Top marks for return to school

The rapid antigen testing surveillance program in schools has increased “confidence” for school staff returning to work at NSW schools.

Rapid Antigen Tests being opened Rapid Antigen Tests being opened
Image: Rapid antigen kits at the frontline of COVIDsmart school measures

A new survey of more than 100,000 parents and carers and staff has revealed high levels of confidence and satisfaction in the way students returned to school.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the survey, which was conducted towards the end of the first week of school for most students, attracted huge responses with 29,238 public school staff and 84,025 parents participating in the survey.

“Schools are enjoying high levels of attendance and this is reflected in the sentiment from the survey,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Our COVID Smart measures have helped reduce the impact of COVID in schools, allowing students to learn safely in the classroom, which is so important.”

COVID Smart settings to start the term have included free rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for students and school staff, mask wearing indoors, vaccination for school staff and restricting access to schools for visitors and non-essential personnel.

Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell, said that COVID Smart measures in schools have not only kept schools safe and free from major disruption, they have increased confidence in being back on site.

“I am particularly pleased that our comprehensive RAT program has helped school staff and students feel more confident about being back on school grounds, according to the survey,” Ms Mitchell said.

According to NSW Health and Service NSW, parents reported more than 12,000 positive RAT tests among school-aged children during the week commencing 7 February.

Research conducted by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) showed that in Term 4 2021, two to four per cent of people exposed to a positive case in school settings contracted COVID-19, compared to around 70 per cent in residential settings.

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