Authorities of Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) announced the Covid-19 plan for schools as the colder season is approaching.
The Covid smart plan came after the state eased the isolation requirement for those close contacts of confirmed cases, reports Xinhua news agency.
Under the new rules that took effect last week, close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case will not have to isolate, as long as they have no symptoms.
But those close contacts still have to notify their employer or educational facility about their status, and comply with guidelines including not visiting aged care and hospitals unless a special exemption applies, undertaking daily rapid antigen tests (RATs) before coming into close contact with people outside their household, avoiding contact with elderly and immunocompromised persons, and wearing a face mask in indoor settings outside the home.
In line with the updated rules, teachers and students who are household contacts, but do not have the disease or any symptoms, can return to school, according to the Covid smart plan for schools.
They must, however, notify the schools that they are household contacts, and do a daily rapid antigen test before school and wear a face mask indoors in the next five school days after their household confirmed positive.
More free RATs are expected to be provided to school staff and students to support compliance with these new rules. The authorities also pledged to provide good ventilation for schools with additional air quality measures.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the removal of isolation requirements for household contacts will support continuity of teaching and learning in schools.
However, the transmission of virus in local schools is still alarming.
According to local media The Sydney Morning Herald, attendance among the state’s 823,000 public sector students dropped to about 86 per cent in mid-March, compared with almost 92 per cent during the same period last year.
The fall equates to more than 45,000 students.
On Sunday, the state recorded 11,107 new cases, and 1,588 people are being treated in hospitals with 64 in intensive care.