Students return to face-to-face learning

The Premier and Education Minister welcomed the start of the school year today, meeting with students at Ultimo Public School.

Four students and three adults standing together.
Image: Ultimo Public School Year 6 leaders with principal Olivia Parry, Premier Dominic Perrottet and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell.

Teachers will welcome students back into classrooms across the State today with vaccinations, rapid antigen testing and mask wearing to play a key role in limiting the spread of the virus and keeping school communities safe.

Premier Dominic Perottet said this was an exciting day for students, and parents and carers could be assured that a wealth of COVID-safe measures were in place to ensure minimal disruption to the 2022 school year.

“The best place for students to learn is at school and getting our young people back to face-to-face learning is an important part of the plan to live with the virus,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We have worked hard to ensure that every school is a safe environment for students, teachers and school staff. We have distributed 8.6 million rapid antigen test (RAT) kits to all schools to ensure that students and staff are able to test for the virus twice a week for the first two weeks of term.

“RAT kits have also been distributed to all early childhood education centres so that educators are able to undertake surveillance testing for COVID-19 twice a week.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said she was thrilled to see students walk through school gates and welcomed back to the classroom by their teachers.

“Teachers and students put in an enormous effort last year while they were learning from home, however we know that being at school has so many social and developmental benefits for children, beyond what they learn in the classroom,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The Department of Education had worked closely with NSW Health to deliver supplies to all schools ahead of students’ return today to make schools as safe as possible.

“Vaccinations remain one of our strongest defences against COVID-19 in our schools and with all staff having received at least two doses of the vaccination, it’s encouraging to see that our students are also increasingly getting vaccinated.”

More than 80 per cent of children in the 12- to 15-year-old age group have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 78 per cent are double-dosed. In the 5- to 11-year-old age group, more than 39 per cent of children have had their first dose.

Other COVID safe measures including physical distancing, ventilation, mask wearing and cohorting will continue to work to limit the spread of the virus, while school year groups will be separated as much as possible with staggered start, break and finishing times and designated playground areas, tuckshop lines, toilets and classrooms.

“With all these measures in place, we’re confident that students will be able to return to the activities they love while staying COVID safe,” Ms Mitchell said.

More information on COVID safe measures in schools is available at https://education.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/advice-for-families

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