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McGowan’s bizarre back to school plan

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Students in Western Australia will have access to air purifiers and carbon dioxide monitors where required in a bid to ensure schools can function as normally as possible during the Omicron wave of the pandemic.

Premier Mark McGowan said the state’s 900 public school facilities had had their ventilation checked, which resulted in more than 12,000 air purifiers being provided where needed, as well as 1500 CO2 monitors.

“There will be enhanced cleaning services across the state (and) contingency plans for remote learning for students that are required to isolate,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Not to mention mask-wearing in line with the current measures in Perth, Peel and the South West, and proof of vaccination requirements for staff and regular visitors to schools.

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“We know how important it is for our schools to remain open, so our children receive the quality education they deserve, and society continues to function smoothly.

“We’ve taken every practical steps to ensure schools are as safe as possible in the current environment for both staff and students, but we retain the capacity to boost measures in the event of a large scale outbreak.”

Masks are currently required for students in Year 7 and above in Perth, Peel and the South West regions.

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Based on advice from the chief health officer, once a “high caseload environment” was reached, masks would become mandatory for students in Year 3 and above.

Staff must also be double-dose vaccinated by January 31 and have had a third jab within a month of becoming eligible.

So far, 97.5 per cent of staff had uploaded their vaccination status.

Camera IconPeople are urged to get vaccinated. Tony McDonough/NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Education Minister Sue Ellery said keeping schools open and providing face-to-face learning to students was important.

“We are returning to school in a very different set of circumstances to the rest of Australia, who have high numbers of community cases,” she said.

Ms Ellery said WA had access to a pool of more than 5000 fully-vaccinated casual teachers, could outreach to retired teachers and also had vaccinated support staff on standby if required.

Almost 477,000 students will go to school next week, as planned, for the start of term one.

Interstate families will also be allowed to return to WA this week so children can quarantine and avoid missing too much school.

It comes as WA recorded 15 new local cases, plus three travel-related infections in quarantine.

Mr McGowan said two of the cases were not linked to known clusters.

Two people are now in hospital, with one of them in intensive care.

“Testing and vaccination is the only way to limit the spread of the Omicron variant,” Mr McGowan said.

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