In a boost for students, families, and staff, the NSW State Government has expedited and extended COVID testing for school students in a bid to minimize disruption to education heading into 2022.
The NSW Government is expanding the use of Rapid Antigen Home Testing (RAHT) to reduce the time students and staff spend away from school if they are a close contact of a positive case. This is a big win going into the 2022 school year especially with new students enrolled into new schools and the numerous disruptions caused by COVID from 2020 and 2021 causing many new students to miss more school than they’ve attended.
Under NSW Health advice, close contacts of COVID positive cases can return to school after seven days, provided they receive a negative PCR test result on Day 7 of their exposure date and consistent negative rapid antigen test results from Day 8 until Day 14.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said the tests would be an important way to help students and staff return to the classroom earlier in schools with positive cases moving forward.
The targeted rollout will include more than 500,000 RAHT kits ready for rapid deployment to any primary school that records a positive case. It will focus on government and non-government primary schools because those students remain unvaccinated. A process for unvaccinated high school students is currently being explored with details soon to follow once enquiries are completed.
The measures to protect against COVID in schools include mandatory vaccinations for school staff and visitors, mask wearing, cohorting, increased natural ventilation, physical distancing rules, and other hygiene measures.