Rapid antigen tests may be “key” to return to school
Some states are delaying the school year while others discuss using rapid antigen tests in classrooms.
The 2021/2022 summer school holidays are fast coming to an end while the country wrestles with the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Questions are being raised about what the return to school this year will look like.
Most students over the age of 12 across the country are already required to wear face masks at school, but now it's being suggested rapid antigen tests will also play a role.
Speaking at a press conference today, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said, "My expectation is that you will see rapid antigen tests as a key part of [the return to school plan]."
In regards to who would pay, he said, "The agreement that we have with the federal government in relation to the cost-sharing arrangements with respect of rapid antigen tests, if they're used for a public health purpose, that there will be a 50/50 funding arrangement."
The details around any sort of testing regime for students and teachers, and which age groups would be required were not supplied.
However, this would likely mean that parents and guardians would not bear the brunt of paying for and sourcing rapid antigen tests which are currently hard to find due to supply issues and demand.
The suggestion that rapid antigen tests may be used across NSW schools follows announcements in other states that the return to school will look different again this year.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall stated schools in his state will return under a "hybrid" model with reception students and years 1, 7, 8 and 12 beginning face-to-face classes from 2 February, and all other year levels resuming online learning the same day before returning to the classroom on 14 February.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Sunshine State's school year will be delayed by 2 weeks from 24 January to 7 February. Year 11 and 12 students will begin school earlier, starting with remote learning from 31 January.
We'll update this article when more information becomes available.