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Staff and students back on the COVID frontline with no plan from Rockliff

Teachers, other school staff and students have been left to the mercy of the latest wave of the COVID pandemic with no genuine plan to deal with outbreaks as Term Three starts across Tasmania next week.

With vaccination rates among five-to-11-year-olds stagnating with just over 50 per cent receiving their second dose– due in no small part to poor messaging by the government – and the government foreshadowing unvaccinated teachers will be allowed into classrooms, it is inevitable COVID outbreaks will occur across Tasmanians schools.

But at the same time, Education Minister Roger Jaensch has done only the bare minimum to ensure safety.

The fact is we are experiencing a devastating new wave of the pandemic. The fact is Tasmania is seeing more than 1,500 new diagnosis each day. The fact is we are seeing the number of Tasmanians in hospital at levels not seen since the first COVID wave and we are experiencing, sadly, deaths on a daily basis.

There has been no genuine thought by Mr Jaensch into how students will catch up on learning missed in the first half of the year when absenteeism rates were significant.

There has been no effort for safety provision for vulnerable students or students with a disability.

With the most recent Tasmanian NAPLAN results showing 28.5 per cent of Year Nines cannot read above the level expected to engage in the wider curriculum, 41.5 per cent could not express themselves in written form and 23.4 per cent were not numerate, Mr Jaensch has not planned for the serious implications of new COVID disruptions.

The Rockliff-Ferguson Government’s COVID preparedness plan has been an absolute failure and they need to assure school communities this weekend about what safety measures – if any – have been undertaken.

Josh Willie MLC  
Shadow Minister for Education and Early Years