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Gutwein Government Has No Apparent Plan for Preventing Covid in Students with Disability

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 14 January 2022

Tags: Education, Schools, COVID-19

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

Tasmanian children remain highly vulnerable to the Gutwein Government’s current let-Covid-rip strategy, children with disabilities likely even more so.

It’s imperative the government release its plan for how it proposes to keep students with disability safe when school returns - if it has one.

Since the Premier announced the lifting of border restrictions in October last year, parents, carers and teachers of students with disability have been ringing the alarm bells with government. They want answers on the steps that will be taken to keep their children safe, remembering no Tasmanian child under 12 will be double-vaccinated before the start of the school year.

With less than a month until school returns, the radio silence from government is not good enough.

COVID-19 is a profound risk to people with disability, particularly those who depend on others to provide support. The Gutwein Government's "let it rip" and ‘personal responsibility’ strategy has only increased that risk to every Tasmanian with a disability.

The Premier should put himself in the shoes of parents, carers and teachers of children with disability. How would he feel knowing a child of his was facing a infection with a deadly virus? How would he feel seeing this risk being met with platitudes and inaction, just three weeks before school is set to go back.

Peter Gutwein is pretending everything is on track for the reopening of schools on 9th February, when the current Covid infection wave will have yet to peak according to Public Health.   Without proper plans to protect students with disability, thousands of Tasmanian students would be entering an environment that would put their health in real peril.

The Gutwein Government needs to engage with parents, carers, teachers and advocates immediately and explain how this public health crisis of government’s making will be mitigated to protect students with disability.