The Minister for Covid-19 Response said a week ago that Covid was in 1 in 10 schools, it is now in 1 in 5.
Gathering limits will no longer apply to school activities such as sports when there are unvaccinated students.
Forty million face masks are distributed. Teachers must wear medical masks, but children can use cloth masks. There will be relief supplies for children in schools, including smaller medical supplies, he said.
Portable air filters and CO2 monitors are also sent to check ventilation.
More than 700,000 rapid antigen tests can be distributed by the Department of Education if schools need them to maintain enrollment, Hipkins said.
It would only be in extreme circumstances that teachers would go to school under the critical worker scheme, using rapid antigen tests (RATs) instead of isolation. As if the school could not continue to function without them.
Hipkins said retailers may also be selling RATs very soon.
“Rapid antigen testing is not a guarantee, so we would only put someone in the school environment with this level of risk if we really had to.”
He said studies abroad have shown RATs may be missing in one in five cases.
It was too risky for schools, so schools would first have to try to find relief staff or take other steps to replace staff who had domestic cases of Covid-19.
When it comes to sports, Hipkins said he never wanted kids to be banned from playing sports if they weren’t vaccinated.
However, some schools interpreted practices such as kapa haka and other school activities to require a vaccination pass.
He said not all school activities would require a student vax pass. “We’re just clarifying those rules to be crystal clear.”
Regarding club sport for children, Hipkins said club sport is treated differently.
It was up to the clubs to provide an unvaccinated option for unvaccinated children.
“There is some hesitation to involve unvaccinated people in these activities, they are concerned that other people will not participate if there are unvaccinated people involved.”
However, he said, when it comes to school-organized activities, children should be able to participate fully in school activities whether they have been vaccinated or not.
He said the Prime Minister had signaled that restrictions would be eased after Omicron’s peak, so the problem with club sport could be resolved at this stage.
He said they wanted as many children and teachers on site as possible, but there would be situations where that was not possible.
Parents would be subject to the same rules, meaning unvaccinated parents could participate in activities organized by the school, but if he was not at school, the vaccination pass requirements would apply. would apply to them.
He said there may be more reminder advice for children in the future.
When tech experts advised giving kids reminders, they were ready to do it.
He said recall rates were high in the most vulnerable population – the elderly, but evidence regarding the impact of recalls on infection and severity of Omicron in children was still emerging. .
Blended learning, where some children were at home and others at school, was difficult and support would be provided in those situations, Hipkins said.
He said teachers were interested in having access to RATs, but not necessarily being able to go to school if they had a domestic case of Covid.
There were at least 5,000 air purifiers available for the winter period, when ventilation was more difficult.
There would be schools and rooms where ventilation was more difficult – and rooms where there were more risks, such as school staff rooms where teachers removed masks to eat and drink, and risked infections. .