The Opposition has expressed disappointment in the lack of detail and definitions in today’s announcement of the Safe Return to School Plan, which has left parents waiting for answers.
Shadow Education Minister Peter Rundle said the Labor Government continued to withhold vital information around close contacts and isolation requirements, which will be necessary for education providers.
“While there has been some clarity around what precautions will be in place for schools next week, there will still be anxiety felt by families as they prepare for the first day of Term One,” Mr Rundle said.
“Definitions for close contacts, detail around isolation requirements for teachers and students, and what is considered a “high case load” remain unknown, along with how Rapid Antigen Tests will be used in a school environment.
“Parents and schools won’t know the answers to these important questions until after the State Disaster Council meeting on Friday, leaving them in limbo until mere days before the school year begins.
“It is very frustrating that these details have again been left to the last minute and even then, we still don’t have clarity when they will be shared with the community.”
Mr Rundle said the Minister for Education needed to come clean on the exact number of teachers and education staff who are unvaccinated and will need to leave the system.
“We have asked the Premier time and time again since last year if there will be a teacher in front of every classroom when school returns – we are now only days away and that question has not been adequately answered.
“The plan to replace missing teachers involves the Flying Squad, but there was no reassurance from the Minister that those teachers will be dedicated to remote areas if there are multiple outbreaks in regional and metropolitan areas.
“More importantly, we know there are major gaps in Government Regional Officer Housing (GROH) properties and little availability for teacher accommodation – the Minister has not addressed how this will be fixed.”
Mr Rundle also said there was no certainty around how boarding schools and residential colleges will operate, should there be a case of COVID-19.
“Parents need to prepare their children for the start of the school year so health advice needs to be clear, concise and should have been provided at the earliest opportunity.
“Families, students and teachers deserve to have confidence in the education system and reassurance that WA’s children will be safe when they attend school.
“The Labor Government had squandered the gift of time and failed to prepare our health system to handle COVID-19 – it appears they have also failed to appropriately prepare WA’s schools.”