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COVID-19 - Return to School Arrangements

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Tags: Schools, COVID-19


When you made the decision to send unvaccinated, unmasked primary school children back into classrooms during raging community transmission of COVID-19, you assured Tasmanian parents, students and teachers that your Government had a plan to return to school safely and that schools would provide a COVID-safe learning environment.

Within two and a half weeks, eight in 10 Tasmanian schools had reported COVID 19 infections. The Burnie Support School, with some of our most vulnerable students, was forced to close and, as of last Friday, daily case numbers were up by almost 50 per cent since the start of school.

Your plan clearly did not provide COVID-safe learning environments for unvaccinated, unmasked primary school students, where most of the infections and outbreaks have occurred. They have been exposed to a deadly virus with known long-term consequences. Will you now apologise to Tasmanian parents, students and teachers for not ensuring schools are safe?



Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question. I must admit I have been waiting two months to respond to some of the rubbish that she started with over the Christmas period.

Ms O'Connor - I didn't unleash a deadly virus on half a million people.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.

Mr GUTWEIN - Some of the crazy stuff that she started with over the Christmas period.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. This question is asked on behalf of Tasmanian students, teachers and parents -

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, that is not a point of order and you know that, disrupting the Premier in his answer. You had a considerable preamble that went to a lot of places and I will allow the Premier the opportunity to address those issues.

Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Mr Speaker. Some of the crazy stuff that she was talking about - eugenics is where you went. She was out there, day by day trying to frighten people, doing her very best. I have with me some of the stuff she actually went on with, which was just extraordinary.

The member said that this would lead to a mass disabling event and deaths, and would also crush the local health system and hammer the economy. She went on to claim it 'attacks the brain,' and that 'politics and the profit imperative have undermined an ongoing effective public health response'. 'We are caught in a massive health and social experiment that is driven by politics.' You should be ashamed of yourself.

Mr Speaker, the one thing I have done from day one is to follow the Public Health advice, and that advice has been followed to the letter. Today, what we are seeing is our community demonstrate confidence. What we are seeing now is our community transitioning to where they can live with COVID 19. What we are seeing within our schools is simply the fact that our schools are a reflection of our society. We always said that we would see an increase in cases in schools. That is what has occurred in other jurisdictions. The important point that I make here and very firmly is that our system is working. We are providing for Rapid Antigen Tests that enable children to be tested at home before they go to school. When claims of outbreaks in schools occur the children are at home. They have been tested, they are at home, they are not running around the classroom as some would attempt to portray.

I am disappointed in the way that you behaved over that Christmas period. You pivoted from following the health advice to wanting to frighten people. You should be ashamed of yourself.