COVID-19 rules go into effect at WA schools amid vaccination warning for parent volunteers

As children return to school in Western Australia, the Minister for Education has warned that unvaccinated parents risk not being allowed to volunteer in the classroom when the number of COVID-19 cases rises.

Sue Ellery said in other states no unvaccinated adults were allowed on school sites today, with thousands of cases.

She said that with WA currently experiencing a low caseload, the advice from the Chief Health Officer (CHO) was that the existing settings for education sites were appropriate.

“Right now the framework is that you need to be vaccinated if you go to a school more than once a week,” Ms Ellery said.

“That will change when the CHO gives us advice on what else we should do when the number of cases increases.”

School volunteers working more than one day per week should be fully immunized.(ABC News: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Ms Ellery said it was “very likely” that those who were not vaccinated could expect not to be able to go to school premises for activities such as volunteering.

She said that there were no compulsory vaccinations for children.

Preparing for an increase in cases

The government had announced that 12,000 air purifiers would be deployed in schools to improve ventilation for the new term.

Three elementary school students walk through a yard.
Pupils arrive at South Perth Primary School for the first day of class.(ABC News: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Ms Ellery said all schools had their purifiers, which included high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters.

She said not all purifiers were in classrooms, with plans to “move them around with the seasons.”

As noted in last week’s announcement about changes to schools, Ms Ellery said young children from Year 3 should wear masks when the number of COVID-19 cases rises.

The education minister said pupils below that level would also be encouraged to wear masks where possible.

About 90 teachers, assistants missing

Ms Ellery said the final figure for the number of education staff fully vaccinated was due tomorrow, with today the last day for them to upload evidence.

“I can tell you though that when it comes to teachers and educational assistants who downloaded the first dose, it’s about 0.5% who didn’t, so we would expect the same kind numbers tomorrow,” she said.

A mid shot of WA Education Minister Sue Ellery speaking at a press conference against a yellow background.
WA Education Minister Sue Ellery announced the back-to-school COVID rules a week ago.(ABC News: James Carmody)

“It’s about 90 [teachers and assistants].

“That said, there is a teacher in front of every class today.”

Ms. Ellery said the Education Department and schools have been working hard to fill vacancies across the state, with more than 700 new graduates entering classrooms today.

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