29/03/2022 - 10:48

School COVID protocols to be relaxed as numbers spike

29/03/2022 - 10:48

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COVID-19 protocols in WA schools will be eased next month as almost 9,000 positive cases of the virus were reported overnight.

School COVID protocols to be relaxed as numbers spike
Education Minister Sue Ellery relaxing COVID rules next school term.

COVID-19 protocols in WA schools will be eased next month despite contrary advice from the chief health officer and as almost 9,000 positive cases of the virus were reported overnight.

One new death and five historical deaths have been recorded, involving people aged in their 70's and 80's.

There are 219 people with the virus in hospital and six in intensive care.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said this school term had been extremely challenging with 992 schools currently impacted by spread of the disease.

More than 5,500 school staff and 90,000 students have already been forced to isolate under existing rules.

She said the chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson had agreed to reduce close contact reporting measures for the beginning of term two, after the Easter break.

But in health advice dated March 24, Dr Robertson warned against reducing public health safety measures before the expected peak of 10,000 cases a day was reached.

"The effect of a premature relaxation of PHSMs, particularly if the peak has yet to be reached, will be difficult to quantify, but will most likely lead to an increase in cases, hospitalisations and ICU admissions," he wrote. "It is my advice, as Chief Health Officer, that level two PHSMs should ideally not be downgraded to level one PHSMs until a minimum of one week and preferably two weeks after the peak of Omicron cases has been reached in WA."

The CHO did go on to list a range of precautions should the government decide to go earlier with an easing of the level two restrictions.

“The adjusted measures strike the right balance between reducing the spread of Omicron, keeping schools operating to provide face-to-face learning and keeping families connected with their child’s school," the minister said.

No longer will schools have to include any external close contacts when filing a report on a positive case.

From next term parents will be allowed on school sites for face-to-face parent-teacher meetings and volunteering in canteens and uniform shops.

Parents are also permitted to watch sporting events and school performances, but mask wearing must continue and that applies to year 3 children and above.

The 8,910 new cases suggest WA's peak isn't far away.

Last week, the premier announced changes to most level two restrictions to allow larger numbers of people in hospitality venues and at outdoor events from this Thursday.

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