Back to school rules: RATs go out before students return

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell.
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell.

Students are being asked to do Rapid Antigen Tests before school starts on February 1.

Forbes public schools will receive RATS to distribute to school communities, a post shared to local school Facebook pages says.

"We kindly asked that our school communities use these RAT kits to ensure negative results prior to starting school," the post says.

The kits will be delivered to the Forbes community of schools on January 28; and available to families via contactless distribution from Forbes North Public School, Forbes Public School and Forbes High School from 10am on Monday, January 31.

The distribution of RATS is part of the NSW Government's plans for returning to school, announced Sunday by Premier Dominic Perrottet.

Each student will have access to two RATs per week as term one commences on schedule, as will teachers.

This twice-a-week testing will be undertaken for the first four weeks for term, with two weeks supply of RATs to be distributed before term starts.

Masks will be compulsory in high school classrooms for both teachers and students, while they will be highly recommended for students in Year 3 and above in primary schools.

For parents who have a child starting school for the first year, they will able to come onto school grounds for that first day of Kindergarten.

Otherwise, visitors to schools will be limited to those providing "essential curriculum and wellbeing support".

Local schools have posted to social media that Forbes Bus Lines will commence their school bus run on Tuesday the 1st February and therefore we are unable to distribute tests to rural families via the bus service until this time.

Parents and carers must register positive RAT results from students on the Service NSW App and notify the school as soon as possible.

Additionally they ask that families continue to report positive PCR test results from students to the school as soon as possible also.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said more than four million RATs had been distributed to schools already with more than six million to be distributed before Tuesday evening in preparation for the return to school.

"So for parents, your school will be in contact with you as to how you can pick up those kits before school returns," Ms Mitchell said.

"We are asking all of our students and staff to test before they come back to school for that first day, and then of course to do those twice-weekly surveillance tests for the first four weeks of term."

If children were to test positive, parents should inform the school principal and NSW Health know via the Service NSW app or website.

"We will no longer be closing schools when there is a positive COVID case in that community and we will not be conducting contact tracing anymore. We are really moving schools in line with what we see in community settings," Ms Mitchell said.

"But parents and carers and family members will be notified if there is COVID in your school community, so, again, you can monitor for symptoms and your children and make sure you are using those rapid antigen tests that we have provided twice a week.

"This is really about minimising the disruption to our school communities."