Australian state government bans COVID-related school closures despite escalating infections

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The Victoria State Labor Party government has called on schools to stop closing during full quarantine periods when positive COVID-19 infections are detected among students or school staff. Under new guidelines, the Ministry of Education “may ask the school to close for an initial period of up to 24 hours to allow identification and notification of key close contacts ”(emphasis added).

The guidelines, released on October 22, are part of the government’s efforts to condition the population to accept widespread COVID infections, including among children and youth.

Before Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced on September 1 that his government was not aiming to eliminate community transmission and that it was necessary to “live with the virus”, affected schools were closed for two weeks. Students and staff in these schools have been advised to self-isolate during this time to avoid spreading infections. This mainly affected a limited number of students, whose parents were first aiders and who were supervised in schools by a small staff.

Instructions from the Department of Education (Victoria) on determining close contacts within schools

Now every effort is being made to block school closures and limit the amount of close contact between students and staff needed to self-isolate, regardless of the risk this creates for a further spread of the disease. infection. According to the policy of the Ministry of Education, when a case is detected in a school, only those who have passed at least two o’clock in the same room as the infected person. This ignores the scientific knowledge of the Delta variant, which can spread by aerosol transmission with only fleeting contact, within seconds.

The state government reopened schools on a phased basis this term, starting with high school students, starting October 4. full-time starting this Monday.

Even before in-person teaching fully resumed, the campaign to reopen schools sparked numerous threats of mass infection.

These were both fully predictable and preventable consequences of opening schools amid record daily infections, still close to 2,000 each day in Victoria. The Committee for Public Education (CFPE) was the only organization to collect and make public the daily counts of schools affected by COVID epidemics. The state government and teachers’ unions have deliberately withheld this information.

Public Education Committee social media update on school closures in Victoria

The CFPE has counted a total of 328 schools closed in Victoria in the past four weeks, since the start of the term. This list is not exhaustive, as it mainly consists of hard-to-access data from the Ministry of Education, as well as information from social media and other sources, including reports from teachers and parents. at CFPE. No official data is available for private schools affected by COVID. Since almost 40 percent of students attend private schools, the total number of affected schools is undoubtedly much higher.

In neighboring New South Wales (NSW), where the Liberal-National state government has adopted a similar ‘let it tear it up’ COVID program, the CFPE has counted at least 154 schools closed, due to outbreaks of coronavirus in Quarter 4. This follows at least 216 school closings in Quarter 3.

The refusal by public authorities to publish full accounts of COVID-related school closings is just one expression of the extraordinary censorship that accompanied the reopening campaign. Basic public health data is kept secret, including the number of teachers and school workers infected, and the source of these infections.

Epidemiological science and the international experience of the pandemic underscore the criminal recklessness of the bipartisan desire to keep schools open, in a context of continued transmission of the virus.

Governments across Australia are acting at the behest of big business and finance capital. Like their international counterparts, the corporate elite are determined to eliminate any health restrictions that hamper profit accumulation. The campaign to send children back to classrooms, regardless of the danger, is needed to get all workers back to their workplaces.

Numerous studies have revealed the lie that children and young adults are not exposed to the virus. In Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has spearheaded the “herd immunity” homicidal strategy to encourage uncontrolled infections, COVID is spreading among children to staggering levels. One in 33 primary-age children and one in 12 secondary school students are currently infected.

The UK recorded its 100th child deaths from the virus this week, including 13 in the seven weeks after schools reopened. Each death represents a terrible tragedy for the families and communities affected. Countless thousands of other families face the largely unknown, potentially lifelong health dangers of a lengthy COVID, with children at risk for debilitating respiratory and neurological problems.

Widespread concern over the situation among parents, students, teachers and school workers in Victoria and New South Wales saw the daily counts of CFPE school closures viewed online this month- ci by tens of thousands of people. The circulation of this material went through a media blackout on the issue, which was part of an ongoing ideological campaign to showcase the dropping out of lockdowns and related health restrictions, including e-learning for students, like a joyous occasion.

Many teachers and parents have contacted the CFPE to express their opposition to the reopening campaign.

One parent wrote: “I have been following your school closing messages which have been extremely helpful, thank you very much for providing me. I am extremely alarmed however that schools are not now closing in many cases in Victoria in response to positive cases of COVID and that we now have no idea which schools are affected. As a parent of unvaccinated children under the age of 12 attending a school in the Vic area, this concerns me a lot as I have no way of trying to judge the prevalence of COVID in our local schools. , which is vital information that I use to help me decide whether or not to allow my children to go to school every day… Our school has no CO2 detectors, no systems filtration, no lessons outside, and my child’s only outside classroom door is currently broken and the windows won’t open, so there is no outside ventilation.

Last week alone, outlets, including the Age, Guardian and Sun Herald, reports the number of school closures, using CFPE figures, although this latest publication alone recognized it.

Supposed mitigation efforts in schools are little more than ineffective fig leaves.

In New South Wales, as one person at CFPE wrote: “Education Minister Sarah Mitchell contemptuously told teachers to take their students outside, sit them under a tree and sit them down. read a book. The teachers responded by saying that their school had no trees, no grass and was often overcrowded. Another posted [that] “My school land was designed for 400 students and now has 1,300 enrolled. “

In Victoria, the government bragging about a safe return to school for COVID has also been exposed. Education Minister James Merlino announced last month that 51,000 air purifiers would be purchased for schools. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported this week that only 3,600 of them, or 7%, are currently operational. Many schools, including those in the popular suburbs most affected by COVID, have reopened without a single purifier.

The air circulation in many public schools is appalling. Some have only a limited number of windows that can be opened, and some of them only through a small crack. Many classrooms also do not have ceiling fans. Others rely on air conditioning systems that recycle the air in the rooms. Teachers have been advised that they cannot be used due to the risk of aerosol spread. This will create intolerable conditions in the classrooms, on the many hot days that will accompany summer.

State governments and the federal government can only continue their reopening campaign with the active collaboration and support they receive from unions.

Teacher unions operating mode is consistent across states: say as little publicly as possible and don’t post on social media, to prevent teachers from discussing their thoughts and experiences. They present COVID security as a matter of schools and individual teachers, and try to silence those opposed to reopening, especially teacher-members of the CFPE. Behind the scenes, the Australian Education Union and the NSW Teachers Federation are actively working with governments to enforce the reopening campaign.

CFPE urges teachers and school staff to form basic safety committees in each school, independent of unions. These committees must develop the broadest public debate on the situation in schools, based on the most accurate scientific research and the full publication of all relevant public health data, including the number of school infections. On this basis, committees can collectively develop the measures necessary to protect the health and safety of teachers, school workers and students, potentially including industrial action and strikes.

CFPE urges all workers to contact and join us – report on the situation in your schools, alert others to the dangers facing students and staff, and participate in the discussion about the collective response needed.

Contact us here:
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: www.facebook.com/commforpubliceducation
Twitter: @CFPE_Australia



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