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Educators want plan to keep schools open, including ventilation and testing

She said the plan should address the need to prioritise teachers and other education staff “as a matter of urgency”, provide guidance on safe reopening of schools in lockdown areas and prepare schools in other states and territories for outbreaks.

The plan should also “identify and fund the infrastructure needs to allow schools to accommodate for social distancing, hygiene, ventilation and any other public health measures”.

Australian Primary Principals Association president Malcolm Elliott also backed the concept of a national plan.

“Even if we can’t make a super detailed national plan, some agreed principles would be useful so that we’ve got some certainty about what the national strategy is,” Mr Elliott said.

He said a critical shortage of relief teachers across Australia underpinned the need for teachers to be given priority vaccination status. But he said the issue of mandatory jabs for teachers was a matter for government, and was “not something we would call for at this stage.”

“If five or 10 teachers were to be away [with COVID] from every school, then we’d be faced with the prospect of school closures because you can’t replace them. So they need to be vaccinated,” he said.

Dr Khorshid said measures including opening windows or installing HEPA filters could be one measure to reduce the spread of coronavirus in school communities.

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“Some of those public health measures may be adequate to protect children given that they have a vastly lower risk of being seriously affected by COVID in the first place,” he said.

NSW is the only state so far to mandate vaccinations for teachers and childcare workers. Under the state’s schools reopening plan, all education staff are required to be vaccinated by November 8, with priority bookings at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena to begin from September 6.

Queensland added teachers and childcare workers to the state’s vaccine priority list in August. Victoria will prioritise Pfizer jabs for year 12 students, and their teachers and examiners at state vaccination hubs in a 10-day blitz from Monday.

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