Two Australian health experts have clashed over when children should return to school as the Omicron strain of COVID-19 continues to rise.
Former president of the Australian Medical Association, Kerryn Phelps, and former deputy chief physician Nick Coatsworth are at odds with the issue, which has created anxiety among parents across the country.
Professor Phelps posted a video on social media in which he criticized the NSW government for wanting to send children back to school for the first day of the school year, praising Queensland’s more “sensible” approach to enduring below the top of the Omicron wave.
“Sending kids back to the classroom on top of a pandemic makes absolutely no sense,” she said.
But Dr. Coatsworth had a direct response to her video.
“Ignore this person,” he wrote.
Professor Phelps said the classrooms were overcrowded and most were poorly ventilated.
“Primary school children are still mostly unvaccinated and there are supply problems with the vaccine,” she said.
The former member of Wentworth and deputy mayor of Sydney said it meant most children would not be vaccinated before the start of the school term.
“The long-term consequences of even mild COVID infection for a child, including long-term COVID, are still largely unknown,” she said.
“If children become ill, their caregivers must stay home from work during their isolation period. If caregivers get sick, who cares for the sick children? ”
Prof Phelps also noted that with the high number of COVID-19s in NSW, many teachers may have the virus or become close contacts, which would result in fewer teachers available in the classrooms.
“There will be logistical problems in getting all teachers to get a third dose before the start of the semester,” she said.
In a subsequent post, Dr. elaborated Coatsworth’s position.
“The starting point is to keep children in school and start the semester as planned. All subsequent actions stem from it, “he said.
“Hybrid learning or distance learning must be resisted by Australian parents. There is no justification for it.”
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