Queensland ECEC employees will be prioritised for COVID tests in response to concerns
Staff working in Queensland’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector will be prioritised for COVID-19testing at state clinics in a government response to the sector’s plea for help with dire staff shortages, the ABC has reported.
As with much of Australia, ECEC services in Queensland have faced major disruptions during the Omicron wave, as a lack of workers has forced the closure of rooms and, in some cases, entire centres.
A number of ECEC focused advocacy groups, including the Queensland branch of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACAQ) have called on the state government to follow the lead of Victoria and New South Wales and provide services with rapid antigen tests (RATs) after the sector was left out of the rollout to state and private schools earlier this year.
As a result of the advocacy measures Queensland health minister Yvonne D’Ath held discussions with the ECEC sector, and as a result has elected to give ECEC employees priority access for testing at Queensland Health clinics.
“Staff and parents of young children will be prioritised at any of our public testing clinics,” Ms D’Ath said. “I think that’s a reasonable measure and I believe it was welcomed by the stakeholders.”
“As far as the broader provision of rapid antigen tests, they are more readily available now and, like many other industries, we would expect that sector to procure their own.”
Both PCR tests and RAT tests will be available at the clinics, and educators can elect to use either option if they find themselves unwell or require testing for another reason.
The announcement was welcomed by ACAQ president Majella Fitzsimmons welcomed the new measures and said she hoped that ECEC services would be considered in the same vein as schools should future outbreaks occur.
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