Tasmanian parents will have access to government supplied Rapid Antigen Test kits when their school-aged children return to school in February, but further detail about this plan will not be known until later this week.
Victoria and New South Wales are flagging twice-weekly RAT tests for their student cohorts in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
Premier Peter Gutwein said the supply of RAT tests will form part of the Tasmanian government's back to school COVID-19 Education Plan, which is due to be released after state and territory leaders meet at a National Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
I would expect that in terms of the provision of Rapid Antigen Tests to parents, that is certainly something we will do. What that number will be and how they would be expected to use them will be based on Public Health advice,"- Premier Peter Gutwein
Mr Gutwein said face to face learning was a priority, and the full details of the government's Covid Education Plan will be released to parents, school communities and teaching cohorts later this week.
He said the Tasmanian plan had been under construction for months, adding that it will also be informed by the experiences of other state and territories as they return to school on their earlier start dates.
"I'm not going to be drawn on what measures might or might not be in our education plan. At the end of the week we will provide clarity in terms of the steps that we will take," Mr Gutwein said.
"I would expect that in terms of the provision of Rapid Antigen Tests to parents, that is certainly something we will do. What that number will be and how they would be expected to use them will be based on Public Health advice," he said.
"I note that some other jurisdictions have already announced their plans but we start on February 9, other jurisdictions start earlier than that, which is why they are talking about these plans now."
Mr Gutwein said the plan would apply to state schools, and Catholic and Independent schools would likely adopt the same measures.
"If they require some assistance then we will provide assistance to them," Mr Gutwein said.
"At the end of the week we will provide further detail to parents, school communities, and to our teaching cohort, to ensure people understand very clearly what the arrangements will be," he said.
"Importantly, all responses to outbreaks will be proportionally informed by Public Health advice and the wellbeing of children, and education staff will be supported to ensure and enable the delivery of quality education as we return."
Labor education spokesman Josh Willie said the government was running out of time to inform parents, teachers and students about COVID back to school measures.
He said the plan should be released now.
"If students and staff will be required to undertake rapid antigen testing, has the government purchased enough to ensure testing is undertaken with the frequency required?" Mr Willie said.
"If not, will families and staff be required to source and pay for RATS themselves when there is a critical shortage?"
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