Very high caseload settings kick in for WA as COVID-19 continues to spread
Western Australia moved to very high caseload settings late last week to ensure continuity of operations for critical sectors and industries as COVID-19 cases peak in the state.
Under the very high caseload settings, students in school or early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings, who are asymptomatic but have been identified as a close contact under the existing definitions (but not a household close contact), will be able to continue attending school or ECEC and benefit from face-to-face learning.
“By making these measures available now we are striking the right balance between the risks presented by COVID-19 and maintaining critical services,” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson noted.
ECEC staff can also be classified as critical workers if needs be, allowing them to continue attending work even if they are a close contact as long as they are asymptomatic and meet the following criteria:
- record a daily negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) prior to attending or on arrival at the workplace;
- wear a surgical mask to work and outside home, and travel alone, if possible;
- when not at work, they must self-isolate;
- if symptoms ever develop, they must follow symptomatic close contact protocols; and
- if a RAT is positive, they must follow confirmed positive case protocols.
“We know teachers and education staff provide a critical role in our society – that’s why we are classifying them as critical workers, and providing RATs to all schools for use by staff so education can continue to be provided in a safe way,” WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said.
Based on the latest health advice, businesses that have registered their critical workforce, including ECEC, will have the option of implementing new testing and isolation protocols for critical workers, if needed when there is a high impact on services, to safely continue essential operations.
The critical worker definition has been determined as essential by the WA Government in order to maintain critical services and avoid catastrophic losses such as loss of life, ongoing access to care and essential goods, and workplace safety.
The definition of a critical worker in WA is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home and who:
- performs a role that is critical to the COVID-19 response or continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm (e.g. loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare, lack of access to essential goods) to an individual or the community; or
- performs a role that is necessary for the safe continuation of services and/or has specialist skills in specific industries deemed critical.
Workplaces are required to determine the critical roles based on legal requirements and register this information online at www.wa.gov.au
The school-based close contact protocols also allow asymptomatic students in school or childcare to attend school, childcare, after-school care and other school-based sporting, cultural training or after-school events at the students’ school, but to self-isolate at all other times until the seven days has passed. This does not include attending other social, cultural or community sporting activities not based at the asymptomatic students’ school.
To assist with meeting the critical worker requirements, RATs have been distributed to public and non-government schools across WA for use by asymptomatic staff identified as close contacts who agree to return to work.
For the full list of defined critical workers and for more information, visit https://www.wa.gov.au
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