Everything you need to know about changes in Australian schools

Back-to-school plans will be very different in Australia as students prepare to return to the classroom in the face of the current wave of Omicron.

Despite an overnight national cabinet meeting of leaders, leaders did not settle for a uniform approach to face-to-face learning, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring state and territory governments would lead the way.

But Morrison said all leaders were committed to safely reopening schools, with custom plans from states expected to be released in the days leading up to the first term.

“Each jurisdiction will be announcing the return to school individually in the coming days,” Morrison said.

“States and territories will make decisions to keep schools open. We need schools to open, we need them to stay open.”

Read on to learn about the new rules for in-person learning, rapid antigen tests, and mask rules.

camera iconPrime Minister Scott Morrison said all leaders were committed to getting students back to school. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia


Detailed state and territory plans are expected to be released in the run-up to school.

After two years of interruption, both New South Wales and Victoria they have committed to returning students to in-person learning on the first day of the first quarter, despite the tens of thousands of cases in both states each day during January.

In south australian, students will return to school in just under a fortnight and only select grade levels will be allowed in classrooms for the first two weeks of the term.

Preschool, Reception, Years One, Seven, Eight and 12 students will return to face-to-face learning at school on February 2.

Other grade levels will begin their school year learning from home, but will return to the classroom on February 14.

In queensland, Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk delayed the start of the school term by two weeks, citing concern over the Omicron outbreak.

Students in Years 11 and 12 will begin remote learning on January 31, while all other students are scheduled to start back in classrooms on February 7.

western australia students will return to classrooms on January 31.

In Tasmanian, students will be sent back to classrooms at the beginning of the first quarter on February 9th.

At Northern Territory and ACT, students will return to school on January 31st.

camera iconBack-to-school plans will be very different for each state. NCA NewsWire / Naomi Jellicoe Credit: News Corp Australia


Following the national cabinet, the government announced that close contact rules would remain the same for children in Australian classrooms, where only those who contract the virus or live in the same household must self-isolate for seven days.

The definition of close contact (at least four hours of contact with a positive household member) will not be extended to cover contact within school grounds or buildings.

Keeping schools open during outbreaks has become a priority so parents can continue to go to work.

“If schools don’t stay open, you could see our workforce furlough go from 10 percent to 15 percent, which would have a devastating effect on our economy,” Morrison said.

camera iconRapid antigen tests will soon be rolled out in some schools. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia


Some states and territories where infections are high may implement testing systems in an attempt to keep schools open.

On Thursday, the government pledged to split funding 50-50 to provide surveillance testing in schools for states that have opted to provide rapid testing for students and teachers.

There is currently no medical advice for surveillance testing, but some states may choose to use the method to detect potential outbreaks in schools.

Victory plans to encourage all students to complete two rapid tests each week once students return to the classroom, and those who contract the virus should stay home.

is also expected New south Wales will take advantage of the testing deal, with Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet confirming that rapid tests will also be used in some form, believed to be around two tests per week.

in south australia, students will not be routinely screened before attending school

The plan for rapid antigen testing in other state schools has not yet been outlined.

camera iconMask rules will be mandatory for students in some states. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia


Children in Victorian schools He will likely be forced to wear masks on school grounds, with the rule expected to become mandatory once students return later this month.

Victorian authorities are expected to announce the mandate soon, along with additional measures to keep students safe.

in New South Wales, students over the age of 12 must wear face masks indoors.

in queensland, teachers and all high school students are required to wear face masks, unless exemptions apply.

in south australia, face masks are required for students in year 7 and above, and are strongly recommended for students in grades three through six.

Face masks have not yet been mandated or advertised in other states or territories.

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camera iconStaff shortages may affect some schools in the current outbreak. Credit: News Corp Australia


With the Omicron wave expected to peak in the coming weeks and staffing shortages affecting all industries, Australian schools, particularly in states with high infections, are expected to take a hit.

Parents could be called on to help supervise children in the classroom under a bold new plan to help schools tackle Covid outbreaks.

Amid concerns about staffing shortages, charter schools have been told they can ask parents to volunteer to supervise students in classrooms.


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