Over 45,000 students at state secondary school are set to return to school on Tuesday under strict measures to combat Covid-19, most notably the requirement of a SafePass for those aged 12 and above.
The return to school follows a summer of positive infections, hospitalisations, and deaths far higher than the start to the previous academic year, but with a continuing rollout of the vaccination campaign.
The strict measures in place at school are likely to be familiar to most of us by now: All those aged 12 and above, including students, teachers and other staff, must present a SafePass – obtained through proof of vaccination, infection, or a negative test taken within the past 72-hours.
Students who refuse or fail to present a SafePass will be marked as absent without justification.
The same age group is also subject to mandatory mask wearing.
Coronavirus test and vaccination sites will also be set up in and around schools while the education ministry will carry out information campaigns centred on the benefits of vaccination.
The ministry emphasised however that only those aged 12-17 will be eligible for free rapid tests from the units, visiting schools, as unvaccinated teachers and staff must test privately.
It also stated on Monday that the test units will visit schools every three days. Units will visit schools every day, but each school individually will only be serviced every three days – meaning students who miss out will be required to go to the usual test sites over the weekend.
As of September 1, the vaccination coverage for teenagers aged 16 to 17 stands at 36.4 per cent, with 29 per cent of them having received both doses.
Meanwhile, 18.2 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 have also received at least one jab, while 5.8 per cent completed their vaccination against Covid-19.
For young adults aged 18 to 19, vaccination stands at 48.6 per cent, while 60.4 per cent of those aged 20 to 29 have also received at least one jab.
It was also announced that on Monday, September 13 there will be 12,000 pre-school children taking their first steps into formal education along with 49,819 primary school children either beginning or continuing where they left off.