With COVID-19 cases rising, the NSW Government has ruled out reopening of schools for the rest of the term. Government sources, however, have revealed plans of a staggered return to face-to-face classes once the state achieves 70% vaccination rate.
Under the plan, students in kindergarten to Year 2 and Year 11 will be the first to return to school in term four, followed by those in Year 6, sources told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the plans for schools should be known by the end of the week.
“Towards the end of this week, people will know if they’re fully vaccinated what they can do in September and October, but also we will give clear guidance on what is the likely target for schools going back,” she said. “Please know that our health experts in particular are working on how the HSC can be done safely, working on what cohorts of children are safe to go back at particular times.”
COVID-19 cases in NSW remain high, with 818 new infections in the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Sunday. Of these, 121 were among children aged nine and under and 160 were among the 10 to 19 age group.
Kerry Chant, the state’s Chief Health Officer, said that several factors must be considered before allowing children to return to school, including teenage vaccination rates, and overall community vaccination and case numbers.
She was also hopeful that children aged 12- to 15-years old would be vaccinated before the year ends.
Infectious diseases paediatrician Robert Booy, meanwhile, expressed optimism that there would be enough immunity in the community to send children back to school in October.
He told SMH that focusing vaccination efforts on the main transmitters of the virus, particularly the 16 to 39 age group, was key as this would help create “a chain of protection for younger children through their parents and older siblings.”