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COVID-19 - Infection Rates in Educational Settings

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 26 May 2022

Tags: COVID-19, Schools


Health department data reveals almost 40 per cent of primary school-aged children have not had a single COVID-19 vaccination and half have not had a booster. These vaccination rates have remained stagnant for weeks, pointing to your Government's failure to prioritise vaccination uptake for five- to 11 year olds who have been sent into classrooms unmasked. Can you please update the House on how many children in government primary schools have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year? We also ask for the same up-to-date information on infection rates for high school and college students in the public school system you administer.



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I share, we all share, your concerns. As the Premier said earlier in his contribution on COVID-19, we need to boost the vaccination rates of our young people. We are ahead of the national average but we need to do more.

I can confirm that in term 2 our COVID-19 cases in schools have been at around half the level that they were at the end of term 1. Active student cases in our schools are trending fairly consistently at around 1.5 per cent of our student population, under 1000 students in our state government schools of a population of around 60 000 students in total.

In terms of the specific cohorts you ask for, I will see what information I can get for you when I can, if we have it in the form you have asked for, but -

Ms O'Connor - You have answered it before.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr JAENSCH - Ms O'Connor, I do not have that information with me to give you here today. I will definitely seek that information that you have asked for and I will check the Hansard. You asked for a number of pieces of data -

Ms O'Connor - Infection rates for primary, high school and college, this year.

Mr JAENSCH - We have been able to keep our schools open and provide our young people with the opportunity to continue face-to-face learning. We have been very grateful for the support and hard work of our teaching staff and our school leadership groups, our school communities -

Dr Woodruff - You're very secretive about these numbers. They're not available.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr JAENSCH - I am not secretive about numbers, Dr Woodruff. I have offered to bring the information that Ms O'Connor asked for and there were a number of pieces of data that she asked for. We will review the Hansard and ensure that we bring that data.

I am full of praise for our schools, our school communities, our families who have worked with us to ensure that our schools can stay open and can stay safe. As we have COVID-19 in our communities, what we have seen is that the incidence of COVID-19 in our schools is reflective of its existence in our communities more generally. The precautions we have taken to ensure that our schools are safe have prevented there being spikes in COVID-19 cases in our schools and we have been able to maintain face-to-face learning for the vast majority of students. Importantly, where students have not been able to attend school because there have been positive COVID-19 cases or are symptomatic, or in the past have been close contacts, the majority of those students have been able to continue their learning through our virtual learning centre and there has not been an interruption to their ability to keep learning through this period.

It has been a great disruption. We have invested heavily in our schools and we have been grateful for the cooperation of parents and families, our school communities, in ensuring we can keep our schools open. We have a better vaccination rate of five- to 11-year olds than other parts of the country but it is still too low. We need to grow it further and through Public Health and with our Health department we will continue to promote opportunities for families to get their younger children vaccinated.