News, media releases

Government remains silent on school COVID safety

Tasmanians parents, students, teachers and other school staff want answers from the Gutwein Liberal Government on the safety and preparedness of schools as the threat of COVID-19 remains.

Shadow Education Minister Josh Willie said the silence from the government and Minister Sarah Courtney since Labor raised the crucial issue of how the risk of COVID and the delta variant being spread in schools could be mitigated had been deafening.

“With the Premier saying that delta will come to Tasmania, safety and preparedness in our state schools will be critical,” Mr Willie said.

“But it appears there has been very limited planning on what exactly will be undertaken to ensure that safety.

“Ventilation and air purifiers are one fundamental way the government can help reduce the risk of COVID spreading in schools.

“Other states have been quick to install purifiers and fix other ventilation issues but aside from a Department of Education audit, we still don’t know what necessary upgrades have been undertaken in Tasmanian schools.

“We know the Victorian Government is investing heavily in measures to reduce the risk of COVID transmission with 51,000 air purification devices to be rolled out to all government and low-fee Catholic schools.

“Nobody will be surprised that many of our school buildings are older and may not be designed for adequate airflow or to be COVID safe.

“Minister Courtney can’t expect teachers to open a few windows in our cold climate and expect everything will be alright. What is the plan? 

“The government has had abundant time to rectify ventilation issues but since Labor raised this as school kids returned from holidays early this month, Ms Courtney has not provided an adequate response.

“Parents are rightly concerned about potential disruptions to education and how our school system will cope living with COVID.

“It’s also crucial school staff are kept safe in the event this virus enters our community.

“Delta doesn’t discriminate based on age and it’s vital our state is prepared if or when the virus enters our borders.”

Josh Willie MLC  
Shadow Minister for Education