Australian states release back-to-school plans

Schools in Australia’s worst-hit states by the Covid-19 pandemic are on track to reopen from Monday amid the surge of infections.

The state of Victoria reported 10,053 new cases and another eight deaths on Monday. There are 873 patients being treated in hospitals, reports Xinhua news agency.

As students in the state set to return for Term 1 this week, all staff and students are encouraged to practice Covid-19 safe measures.

Surveillance testing will be strongly recommended in education settings.

Victoria Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino said more than 6 million rapid antigen tests will be delivered by Monday.

Students in Grade 3 and above are required to wear masks indoors. Teachers will be required to wear masks at all times when not actively teaching or communicating with students.

School staff who have not had a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine also have been warned that they must be jabbed by mid-March.

Meanwhile, Premier of New South Wales (NSW) state Dominic Perrottet said on Monday that parents in the state are set to get a A$500 ($350) voucher for each primary school child to help with school care costs.

“We know that parents, this pandemic has been incredibly tough, balancing homeschooling with work, we want to do whatever we can to the daily job,” said Perrottet.

As the epicentre of Australia’s current wave of pandemic, NSW recorded 13,026 cases and 27 deaths on Monday with 2,779 hospitalisations.

The state of Queensland, where students will return to school from February 7, also revealed its back-to-school plan last week.

Masks will be mandatory for high school students and “strongly encouraged” from Grade 3 upwards.

Queensland will not, as NSW and Victoria, require regular Covid-19 tests of school kids, but rapid antigen test kits will be available to parents if their children show symptoms.

If parents aren’t comfortable administering the test, they can take their kids to a state testing clinic, where they’ll receive priority treatment so they don’t have to queue.

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