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NSW and Victorian back to school plan in doubt with survey showing a third of parents plan on ignoring government health advice about rapid antigen testing

There are concerns that a certain group of people who are provided with RATs by the government do not intend to use them the way they are supposed to.

A third of parents in Victoria and New South Wales plan to ignore public health advice when they send their children to school next week.

Schools from the two largest states are set to resume for the new year – with most Victorian students starting next Monday and in New South Wales on Tuesday.

But Omicron’s rampant cases mean that a number of measures have been implemented to help limit the spread of infection in the classroom, including mask mandates for all teachers and most students, implementing classes in shaded outdoor areas and improving ventilation systems to improve airflow.

The main reason for the controversy is that children must regularly use a rapid antigen test (RAT) and return a negative result before they are allowed to enter the school gates.

New statistics reveal that 30 per cent of parents in Victoria and New South Wales do not plan to follow the government’s back-to-school Covid testing guidelines.

The survey, conducted by consulting firm Insights Nature based on a sample of 1,000 moms and dads, found some troubling findings about what these fathers intend to do with RATs rather than testing their children.

Four million remote control units were delivered to Victorian schools on Friday and another two million will arrive by the time school time begins.

Similarly, 6 million rapid antigen tests have been delivered to nearly 3,000 schools in New South Wales.

Victoria requires parents to test their children every two days while in NSW they must use RATs twice a week.

Both are voluntary and there is no oversight.

As a result, 15 per cent of parents will only test their children if they develop symptoms of Covid-19.

Another 13 percent plan to use RATS once a week or less.

And 2 percent would not test their children no matter what.

The research also revealed that 39 percent of parents said they would prefer to save any RATs provided by the government for another occasion, rather than testing on their children twice a week.

Only 58 percent of parents think a back to school plan is a good policy.

Chris Crook, managing partner at Nature cautioned: “If a third of people will not follow the policy properly, it raises the question of whether it is worth doing at all.

“By not taking the tests in schools or having parents show proof of the test, it opens the door to all sorts of hoarding and selling a commodity that’s getting very hot right now.”

Retailers have come under fire over the past month for hoarding RATs and raising prices to make a good profit at the expense of customers.

The Australian consumer watchdog, ACCC, has criticized “outrageous” rapid antigen test thefts with retailers charging up to $70 for a single test despite the wholesale cost of RAT ranging from $3.95 to $11.45 per test.

In one case, a consumer who had purchased tests online attempted to whip her up on social media for $500 for two tests.

The ACCC has received more than 1,800 reports from consumers about rapid antigen tests since Christmas and said they are approaching 150 reports per day on average.

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