SA releases further information about COVID-19 Forward Plan for Ed ahead of opening
South Australia has released updated information about how COVID-19 will be managed in education and care settings when borders open on November 23.
Under the plan masks will remain optional and visitors, including parents and volunteers, will be allowed on school sites under the South Australian COVID-19 Forward Plan for Education.
The Department for Education will have a centralised contact tracing team to work with SA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Branch in the event of a confirmed case in one of our public schools, preschools or children’s centres.
Additional daily cleans at public schools and preschools will continue for the remainder of Term 4 and excursions and camps within South Australia can continue subject to appropriate contingency planning and assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Early learning settings and schools, Education Minister John Gardner said, will continue to be guided by the expert health advice.
“Our approach to managing risk and responding to a confirmed case in a school or early childhood setting has been thoroughly tested throughout the pandemic,” Minister Gardner said.
Key features of the plan include:
- all eligible students (aged 12+) strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated
- masks recommended for all adult visitors to site
- schools, preschools and early childhood services remain open unless directed to close due to a confirmed case or in the event of a significant outbreak
- If SA Health identifies a significant regional/localised outbreak, the Department will advise when to activate remote learning. All schools, preschools and early childhood services will remain open with skeleton staff for students and children that need to attend.
“Our ventilation audit and the air purifier trial are already providing valuable insights,” Minister Gardner said.
“While the full results are still a few weeks away, we won’t hesitate to take action at a site or system-wide level if interim findings demonstrate a clear and immediate benefit.”
COVID-19 vaccinations will also be mandatory for people who work in an education or early childhood setting to keep South Australians safe from the pandemic.
Under the direction, anyone who works at or volunteers at a South Australian school, preschool or childcare centre/Early Learning Centre must receive at least 1 dose of a Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) approved COVID-19 vaccination and a booking to receive a second dose by 10 December 2021.
This direction includes:
- anyone who attends a South Australian school, preschool or childcare/early learning centre for work of volunteer purposes (including building contractors and parent helpers)
- all Department for Education employees and contractors
- governing council members and employees
- OSHC and vacation care providers
- Department for Education contracted bus drivers and transport providers
- Family Day Care employees.
Only those who have a medical exemption endorsed by the Chief Public Health Officer will be permitted to work or volunteer at a school or early childhood setting without getting vaccinated.
Not included in the direction are students, parents who do not work/volunteer at the school, preschool or childcare centre; playgroups or play centres off site, delivery drivers, people responding to urgent maintenance tasks or an emergency situation.
Department for Education Chief Executive, Rick Persse said the decision to make vaccination mandatory has not been taken lightly.
“We have taken this decision based on the expert health advice of our Chief Public Health Officer which indicates this is the best approach for our students, staff and education system, and I absolutely support this decision. We’re following in the footsteps of other jurisdictions,” said Mr Persse.
“I appreciate that this decision will be difficult for some but it is the right call for our state as our borders reopen.”