SA school reopens in limbo as COVID cases rise

UPDATED | Prime Minister Steven Marshall says it is “too early to say” whether South Australian schools will reopen on January 31 or move to distance learning as COVID cases rise, but the state government has “emergency” in place if it required.

With more than 6,000 active COVID-19 cases in the state and a record 1,472 infections recorded yesterday, Marshall marked this morning that Education Minister John Gardner and Education Minister Rick Persse would meet to “look at plans for the resumption of School in the first semester ”.

“It’s still too early to say exactly what it’s going to look like,” Marshall told ABC Radio Adelaide.

Pressed on whether schools would reopen for on-site tuition on Jan. 31 as planned, Marshall said, “I do not want to speculate on that.”

“We will have more information on that today in the National Cabinet,” he said.

“We will do everything we can to protect our students and our teachers.

“The good news is that last year we have put a lot of effort into being ready to have that opportunity for home schooling.

“We’re ready, we’ve got all the emergency services in place if we need to adopt them, but it’s just too early to say at this stage.”

The cloud over whether schools open for the first semester comes as the state government continues to encourage public and private sector employees to work from home.

It also comes with the rollout of the vaccine to children aged five to 11, which should not begin until January 10th.

Children within that age group will not be fully vaccinated when school returns, as the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization has recommended that they between the ages of five and 11 receive their vaccine doses at eight-week intervals.

Australian Education Union SA department president Lara Golding said teachers are now “concerned about what the situation may be when school starts in a month”.

She also said primary school children were of “particular concern” as they “are not yet eligible for vaccinations and are less likely to be able to observe social distancing and mask use”.

“If the health advice is that homeschooling should take place until the vaccination rates for all school-age children reach an acceptable level, then those health advice should be followed,” Golding said.

“If the schools are open, the government must ensure that all possible measures are taken to ensure health and safety. This includes mask use, air purifiers and ventilation systems, and measures to enable social distancing. “

She highlighted that other states had introduced reduced class sizes and staggered participation to ensure that social distancing could take place.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Grantskalns, CEO of the Association of Independent Schools SA, said the state’s independent schools would follow the advice of SA Health.

“It seems to me that this is a pretty quick situation,” she said.

“We would expect that SA Health, much closer to the time when schools should return, would issue some guidelines for schools.

“If the health councils are that schools should stay home and learn at home, then independent schools will follow that advice.”

Grantskalns, whose association represents 105 independent schools across SA, said that while the sector’s preference was to learn to be personal, intergovernmental schools had shown that successful distance learning is possible despite its challenges.

“On the whole, learning from home has still been successful learning,” she said.

“While it is challenging for families for a wide variety of obvious reasons, it is not something to be feared in terms of the progress that students can make.

“No one would prefer to go there, but if that’s what we have to do to keep everyone safe, then that’s what it will do.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said they would “provide more information to society as soon as possible ”.

“With several cases of Omicron in South Australia, we have worked through a series of scenarios for the start of the 2022 school year,” the spokesman said.

“Our plan and response continue to evolve with the Omicron situation here in South Australia. But our focus remains the safety of our children, students and staff.

“Our clear preference is face-to-face schooling, but we are prepared for periods of online learning if necessary, as we demonstrated last year.”

Golding said the ministry had completed a ventilation audit of state public schools, though the union had not been consulted on the results.

In term 4 this year, South Australian schools still closed for cleaning after registering a positive case.

Numerous school graduation events and an entire school gathering in Willunga were identified as hotspots for close contact this month, sending hundreds into quarantine over the Christmas holidays.

There are currently at least 6,316 active COVID-19 cases in southern Australia, according to SA Health.

As of Tuesday, 65.6 per cent of South Australian children between the ages of 12 and 16 are fully vaccinated, while 74.4 per cent have received at least one dose, according to federal government health data.

A study by the Commissioner for Children and Adolescents in October showed that about 20 percent of children over the age of 12 are unlikely to be vaccinated due to fear of needles, potential side effects, and their parents’ views that promote resentment.

The state government completes support package for hospitality, gyms

The state government is preparing to announce the details of a support package for hospitality resorts and gyms after the sectors were hit by a number of new restrictions this week.

Marshall said the state government was “on track” to complete a hospitality support package before the end of the week and would meet with Treasurer Rob Lucas today to work out the details.

“We should be able to complete that package to support the companies, especially the companies in the hospitality and fitness sector, that have been hardest hit,” he said.

“Interestingly, general retail sales in South Australia and around the country seem to be holding up very well.

“But there are pockets that are very affected and we want to support them, just as we have supported companies throughout the pandemic.”

The state government on Christmas Eve abolished plans to lift restrictions on hospitality venues and nightclubs on December 28 due to the increase in Omicron cases throughout the state.

On Christmas Day 2, the premiere announced that hospitality venues would return to a density limit of one person per day. four square meters, and gyms would be limited to a limit of one person per square meter. seven square meters.

Marshall would not be drawn into whether the incoming aid package involved tax breaks or cash subsidies, saying he did not want to anticipate the announcement.

In August, the state government announced a $ 3,000 cash grant scheme for companies in eligible industrial sectors that had experienced a drop in revenue of 30 percent or more as a result of ongoing tightness restrictions.

An additional $ 1,000 CBD-specific grant was available in the August package, which recognizes the “increased impact” on the city’s businesses as a result of people working from home.

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