In the first two weeks of the school year, more than 20,000 NSW school children tested positive for COVID-19, and the number of cases among kids is fast increasing, with a nearly 50% rise between week one and week two.
The NSW Department of Education revealed data showing that 8,109 children tested positive during their first week back in class.
Another 12,056 pupils had been diagnosed with Covid-19 by the end of the second week.
The results differ significantly from the “preliminary data” released by NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell on the final day of week one.
“In terms of the number of students we’ve been able to pick up across the systems over the last week, 2,417 students have reported a positive case,” she said.
During the first week back, she claimed, no schools had to close due to COVID-19, and those who were infected had isolated at home.
“I really couldn’t have wished for a better start to the school year,” she said.
COVID-19 has been spreading in the classroom, and some parents are concerned.
Elaine, who did not want her last name published, is the mother of two primary-school-aged children who has opted to keep them at home until they have had all of their vaccinations.
However, she stated that this was not an option for every parent.
She claimed her family was worried since there was no information on how many instances had been found or what type of the virus was spreading.
“When you have a situation lacking transparency, it means you’re not able to assess risk,” she said.
“You’re just not able to make any sort of judgement.”
Elaine said she got reports from her children’s school warning parents about COVID-19 exposures, but that they frequently prompted further worries because they were “written generically” for privacy reasons.
“You know there’s been an exposure, but you don’t know whether it’s one kid or four kids or eight,” she said.
Merilyn, a Sydney teacher who did not want her last name published, claimed her private school had been withholding information and that the situation was “unnerving.”
“We don’t hear much about what’s going on,” she said.
“They send advice out to parents [about cases] but it’s not actually information coming to staff.”
She expressed her skepticism that parents were testing their children numerous times a week.
Parents’ concerns about COVID-19 in schools are reasonable, according to epidemiologist Angela Webster, but children would be susceptible inside or outside the classroom.
“The prevalence of Omicron cases is so high that [school is] not very different from being out and about in the supermarket or other areas,” she said.
“The case burden was with [children] before school went back and after school went back.”
Professor Webster claimed the virus was “tearing through” the unvaccinated population, which he said was disproportionately made up of young children.
Students and teachers are expected to take two quick antigen tests each week for the first four weeks of term one under the NSW return-to-school plan.
Masks are required for instructors and secondary students, and strongly recommended for primary school kids in grades 3 and higher.
Excursions and other events such as music, sports, and assemblies must have COVID-safe planning.
After week four, the government claimed it was still debating whether to continue the twice-weekly quick antigen testing, and it had surveyed parents.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet had earlier stated that the state was “leading the way” in reopening schools and that the state was “leading the way” in a safe return to class.