Booster mandates, RAHT processes and isolation rules – what NSW ECEC needs to know
The New South Wales Department of Education shared an update over the weekend, providing clarification and updates around rapid antigen home testing (RAHT), booster vaccinations and the rules for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector around isolation and testing for COVID-19.
RAHT distribution process has changed
The process for obtaining RAHT kits has changed following the announcement six days ago that services would be given RAHT kits as part of the Test to Stay program, after the Department took into consideration feedback from ECEC services in line with COVID-19 management changes made by NSW Health.
From this week, ECEC services will receive a small supply of RAHT kits, beginning with distribution to those services who are currently operational.
This change, the Department said, will allow staff to start immediate testing and continue working at the service under test-to-stay provisions, and enable services to maintain continuity of service following a positive case exposure.
- Services should only utilise the supplied RAHT kits if there is a positive case exposure. It is not advisable that they are used pre-emptively or for general surveillance.
- Services who have already ordered or received a supply will not be included in this initial distribution as it is expected that existing supplies would cover these needs.
- Where services are not yet operational for 2022, including preschools, mobile services and OSHC services who do not operate Vacation Care, they will receive kits in the first week of operation.
- Given the prioritisation of equitable distribution to all services, the online form is not currently available for orders.The process for distribution will be reviewed again and the Department will update services on changes later this week
Boosters mandatory under Public Health Order
COVID-19 booster vaccinations will become mandatory as part of the Public Health Order for Education and Care workers.
Isolation and testing
The NSW Premier and Chief Health Officer have made changes in relation to the rules around COVID-19 tests. These changes aim to reduce wait times for PCR testing and results and should help services to respond more quickly to return to normal service operations.
NSW Health has advised that people who are symptomatic or household contacts of a positive case may rely on the results of a RAHT, instead of awaiting the results of the PCR nose and throat swab from a testing clinic. If a person has returned a positive RAHT, this can be treated as a positive case.
Only people who are symptomatic and cannot access a rapid antigen test or have been directed as a high priority group by NSW Health should seek out a PCR nose and throat swab at a testing clinic.
Where a positive case attends the service, services will still need to notify the Department via NQA ITS and alert parents that a positive case has attended with the child’s risk of exposure, in the same way services notify of other infectious diseases.
Services with a positive COVID-19 case can visit the Department’s positive case page for a range of information and resources to support.
For more information
Questions about service operation should be directed to the Information and Enquiries team on 1800 619 113 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
In the event of a positive COVID-19 case or for specific questions about a service’s response to COVID-19, services can also email ECEC.COVIDCASE@det.nsw.edu.au
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