Teachers at South Australian public and Catholic schools will no longer always tell parents if their child is a COVID-19 classroom contact because the number of cases in schools has made the requirement too “burdensome”.
The state recorded more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases yesterday and on Wednesday, with cases expected to peak this month.
Teachers in particular have been hard hit, with hundreds off every day in South Australia with COVID-19, as close contacts or as carers, despite the quarantine period for close contacts being cut in half to seven days last week.
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that public schools would no longer have to report to parents if their child was a close contact.
Parents will only be notified if five children within a class over a seven-day period has tested positive for coronavirus.
It follows a direction that Catholic schools have already taken.
Professor Spurrier said authorities were looking at other ways to reduce reporting burdens on schools.
“Whether schools are able to report on a year level [instead of classes] so that it’s not as onerous but it’s really become quite burdensome for the teachers and of course they need to be focusing on teaching the students as much as anything else,” she said.
Exemptions for some critical workers
Hospitality venue owners have called for the rule to be relaxed further, but Professor Spurrier said her review would target essential industries that keep society “ticking over”.
She cited railway signal workers as an occupation that had been granted an exemption to close contact rules because of their importance to freight transport and the small number of people doing the job.
“I appreciate that there are many businesses that have been impacted by people being sick or there’s close contact but we really need to look at the criticality of that in terms of our whole society’s functioning,” she said.
Push for SACE merit ceremony to go ahead
Education Minister Blair Boyer said he was working with the Premier to ensure the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) merit ceremony occurs in person this year.
The event at Government House was postponed in February and was recently cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Mr Boyer said the event was a rite of passage for high-achieving year 12 students.
“I’ve spoken to the board after speaking with the Premier and made it really clear that they have our support to make sure we can have the event face-to-face as soon as we can,” he said.
New Labor ministers Katrine Hildyard, Nat Cook, Andrea Michaels and Kyam Maher will be sworn in at Government House today after missing the original swearing-in ceremony due to having COVID-19 or being a close contact.
Mr Boyer said Mr Maher’s appointment was historic for South Australia.
“The fact that today in 2022 we get to see an Aboriginal person in cabinet — but not just in cabinet but the chief lawmaker — is a really special occasion and holds great significance,” he said.