School COVID-19 outbreaks “inevitable” as students return

Students across Queensland will be busy polishing their shoes this morning, with children finally set to return to the classroom.

The resumption of the school year comes two weeks later than usual after the State Government delayed the return due to the Omicron wave across the state.

Masks will be mandatory for those in years 7 and above, and “strongly encouraged” for those in years 3 to 6.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


Unlike in other states, rapid antigen testing will not be compulsory for students.

However, the at-home testing kits will be available for free if students do develop symptoms and become unwell.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles to reporters on Sunday that schools were “well prepared” for students to return.

“We have a very detailed return to school plan that has been implemented across schools, the last element of that plan was making sure we had sufficient rapid antigen tests so that parents could get their children tested if they had symptoms.

“We now have those tests, they’re on their way out to schools and they will have them during the week”.

The State’s top doctor warned it was “inevitable” outbreaks would occur at schools but admitted the greater risk would actually be at home instead of in classrooms.

“Some children will get sick enough to be admitted to hospital,” Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said.

“But hospitalisations associated with the children themselves I would not expect to be in very large numbers.

“The bigger risk in terms of hospitalisations is more the child bringing the virus home to the parents and grandparents, especially grandparents who are not boosted.”

Dr Gerrard said it was “very unlikely” schools would have to be shut down due to outbreaks.

“That’s certainly very much a last resort, this is not like 2021… We want to be able to control this virus at a classroom level,” he said.

“If kids are sick they will need to go home and quarantine.

“But our goal now is not to completely contain this virus, our goal is to minimise hospitalisations, to minimise illness”.