ANSON Street School has received additional Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and N-95 masks for its students and staff members, due to the presence of higher-risk health conditions amidst the school community.
Principal of the school, Melanie Meers says that while the current guidelines for testing are twice-weekly, a decision to "strongly encourage" daily testing was made with the goals of increasing safety across the wider, high-risk school community, and to prevent further shortages of staff.
"The decision to test daily was made because of the nature of students [at Anson Street School] with a range of disabilities, and our students do have those health concerns that place them in a higher-risk category," Mrs Meers said.
"While it's not mandatory, staff and students are being asked, and strongly encouraged, to take tests daily - not just twice a week."
A decision made in conjunction with the New South Wales Department of Education, additional RAT kits have been distributed to the school to cover the entire community there, with the issue of staff shortage already at play.
"We're already experiencing a teacher shortage and we're trying to prevent a non-operational circumstance, so the reason for every day testing is to avoid short-staffing even further, and to keep our school community open with continuity of learning," Mrs Meers said.
The decision to test daily was made because of the nature of students with a range of disabilities, and our students do have those health concerns that place them in a higher-risk category.Principal of Anson Street School, Melanie Meers on additional COVID-19 health and safety measures
"The Department [of Education] has provided us with thousands of RATs and N-95 masks as a result, which accounts for students, staff and workers who assist with transport for the school to ensure the safety of everyone on site."
With considerations to further health and safety requirements, the additional protective measures aims to decrease transmission of the COVID-19 virus between staff providing close-contact care of higher-needs students.
"We're really conscious of the high rate of compromised immune systems among our students, and we also have staff who are immunocompromised as well," Mrs Meers said.
"With this close proximity with children who are at higher-risk, we needed to make sure those extra health and safety precautions were being taken."
With Anson Street School students under travel-assisted arrangements - between home and school site commuting - regular close contacts of the school community will also be provided additional testing and personal protective equipment.
"Quite lot of children travel to and from school via assisted transport, where students are picked up by mini buses or taxis and brought directly from home to school, so those workers will also be provided with RAT's and N-95 masks," Mrs Meers added.
With specialised learning requirements seeing the structure of one teacher and one group support officer to each classroom, the principal expressed the continuous gratitude for teachers at Anson Street School.
With this close proximity with children who are at higher-risk, we needed to make sure those extra health and safety precautions were being taken.Principal of Anson Street School, Melanie Meers on high-needs student requirements
Special mentions from Mrs Meers to administration staff were also referenced, with school community members volunteering their time on Thursday prepare innumerable COVID-19 kits.
"I'd really like to give a big thank you to our admin staff who have put together our RAT packs today for the school community, as they've taken time out of their holiday to make sure kits are ready for collection from Friday," she said.