Every student and teacher in the state’s 3,150 government and non-government schools will be eligible to receive RATs before the school year begins on Feb. 1. Over 12 million RATs will be distributed to schools to support four weeks of testing.
Primary and high school students, school staff and early childhood staff will be required to test twice a week for the first four weeks.
All staff and high school students will be required to wear masks, while children in primary schools are encouraged to wear them.
Interaction between year groups will be minimised and visitors to schools will also be limited, including parents.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said safely returning to the classroom was vital for children and their education.
“Students learn best at school, some students have spent a quarter of their schooling at home. We’re committed to bringing students back safely,” he said.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said in the case a child tested positive, schools would not close.
Mitchell said the government was limiting visitors to schools for the first four weeks to minimise any disruptions to the community.
“We'll look to ease that restriction as soon as we can that we know it's important to have mums and dads and carers there and we're looking to do that as soon as we can,” she said.
Professor Robert Booy, an infectious disease paediatrician, said air purifiers were important in keeping the air clean but added that there was yet to be conclusive evidence on how effective they would be in preventing people in a classroom from getting sick with COVID-19.
He reassured parents of four- and five-year-old children that less than 1 percent of this age group end up in the hospital, and those who do stay just two or three days “because they’ve got a cold.”
The NSW government closely worked with the Victorian government to align their plans as closely as possible to each other.