Health

Australia, schools at stake amid rising infections, prevention and new containment measures

Despite the biological entry of the viral agent in an almost endemic phase, Oceania (including New Zealand and the Polynesian Islands in this nomenclature) still suffers a terribly high number of cases that touches 35 – 40 thousand units per day, despite the severe restrictive measures imposed by health authorities. The virus circulates a lot due to a spirit of absolute adaptation that reduces – at least from a medical point of view – its lethality, guaranteeing its mere biological survival. Local schools, with direct reference to the organizational model, the logic of funding and the institutional subjects that guarantee teaching, adopt increasingly different measures, putting families and students in serious difficulty, forced to observe a multitude of rules, practices, buffers , tests and so on. The case of Canberra (ACT) has caused a sensation and discontent in a population very exhausted by provisions, especially if different from institution to institution, difficult to manage for a family with more than one son or daughter, whose access to the local school is bound to different procedures aimed at reducing the risk of contagion.

The second semester has started at the institutes of the capital: lack of clarity on the measures, many controversies

Public schools ACT have maintained more stringent COVID-19 restrictions than those required by health orders. Students who have been in contact with family members deemed positive for COVID-19 must not attend classes, and high school students must still wear masks indoors. Private Catholic and independent schools have decided against these stricter rules. The second semester for public schools has begun ACT, which maintained the stricter measures in place during the first half of the year. This includes banning close contacts – strictly with people living with someone infected with COVID-19 – from attending classes. Teachers and high school students must also continue to wear face masks when indoors and all adults who need to enter the schoolyard must log in via the app CBR Check In. These rules, which are stricter than those required by ACT’s recently loosened health orders, will remain in effect for at least two weeks from late April onwards. However, Catholic and independent schools, most of which will reopen on Wednesday, will not maintain the tougher measures just mentioned. ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry acknowledged that public school policy would frustrate some families, but she also pointed out that it is more necessary than ever now in soothing epidemiological phases.

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Meanwhile, Catholic system schools will allow students to attend classes from Wednesday, even if they are a family contact, as long as they register a negative result on a quick antigen test. Merici College Vice Dean Renee Taylor said masks will not be mandatory in high school, but would be recommended. “We will still strongly encourage our student population to wear masks indoors, especially when in smaller classrooms and smaller environments, to be able to minimize the risk of transmission” – Taylor pointed out in a note. Heads of independent private schools met on Tuesday and announced that they would also allow family contacts to attend campuses by Wednesday. By the end of the week, schools will also be phasing out the mandatory use of masks. Making a few statements before the confrontation, Carol Matthews, deputy head ofACT / NSW Independent Education Unionsaid it was nearly impossible to maintain adequate social distancing in schools. “We certainly think it should be the exception rather than the rule, in our opinion, in which family contacts would attend school, even if they are negative”, he has declared. This issue is having decisive political implications not only in the local authorities or the respective municipal authorities, but also at the parliamentary level, with critical interventions made by the opposition parties to the executive in office.

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