Authorities in several Australian states have remained steadfast that in-person schooling would go ahead without delay at the end of January despite surging Omicron cases
SYDNEY, Jan. 14 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 14th Jan, 2022 ) :Authorities in several Australian states have remained steadfast that in-person schooling would go ahead without delay at the end of January despite surging Omicron cases.
Premier of the state of New South Wales (NSW) Dominic Perrottet has pushed back against calls to delay the start of the school term, saying on Friday, “We are completely committed to getting schools open day one, term one, in a way that is safe for students and for teachers.” And despite predictions that as much as 50 percent of the state could be infected during the Omicron wave, the premier insisted that people would need to learn to “live alongside the virus.” On Friday, NSW reported 63,018 new cases, over half of which were self-reported as Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). Currently, 2,525 people are in hospital with the virus, and 29 deaths were reported in the state.
Part of the state’s bid to safely return students to the classroom has been a rush to vaccinate children before the start of the term. However, vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 have only been approved since the beginning of January, and just 6.
5 percent of this cohort have received their first dose in NSW.
Following suit, the Australian state of Victoria said schools would return as planned.
On Friday, the state reported 34,836 new cases and 18 deaths. The state’s hospitals have nearly 1,000 people admitted with the virus.
Other states, despite having lower case numbers, have taken a more cautious approach. In Queensland, the start of the school term has been delayed by two weeks in a bid to push through the peak of the Omicron wave before the return of students.
Prof. Adrian Esterman, chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, told Xinhua that as schools reopen it would be necessary to implement health measures to avoid outbreaks.
Esterman said schools are required to keep classes apart and keep classrooms well ventilated to prevent school-wide outbreaks. All children and teachers would need to be vaccinated and wear masks.