School students and parents across New South Wales will know more details about the return to school date by the end of this week, which may involve a staggered return strategy.
Health and education officials met today to discuss the strategy to allow different year groups, starting from Kindergarten to Year 2 and Year 11 students, to return to classrooms in Term 4 with the possibility of any return to face-to-face learning in Term 3 being squashed.
“We have provided certainty for parents in terms of September,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the press on Aug. 23. “Unfortunately, we have said that current conditions remain in place. If you’re still homeschooling, that will continue.”
She said health experts were discussing ways the HSC exams could be done safely and also working on what cohorts of children would be safe to return at specific times.
“Towards the end of this week,… we will give clear guidance on what is the likely target for schools going back,” Berejiklian said.
The crisis cabinet is expected to consider the return strategy tomorrow and finalise with other plans to ease restrictions.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told Budget Estimates on Monday that the Delta variant had proven to be much more transmissible with children, making it difficult to decide on when students would return to classrooms.
She told the hearing that the return largely depended on vaccination rates, both for the teenagers and overall community numbers.
However, Chant was confident that children aged 12 to 15 could begin receiving vaccinations later this year.
Children in the age group with specific medical conditions or identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were the first to be given the green light for receiving vaccinations.
The government expects that the remainder of children between 12 and 15 will soon be allowed to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Berejiklian has said the state would reopen once the population reaches 70 to 80 percent vaccination against COVID-19.
“Just as we tend to talk about the number of people that die from flu when we have 80 percent double-dose vaccination, that’s how we’ll treat it,” she said.