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Premier of Tasmania – More than 60,000 students welcomed back to school

9 February 2022

Peter Gutwein, Premier

I would like to warmly welcome students, teachers and staff who are commencing Term 1 2022 today, and reassure the community that a number of measures are in place to ensure our schools are COVID safe.

There is no doubt that this year will be a year like no other as we transition to living with COVID-19, but the strong Public Health advice is that our schools are the best place for our students to be.

Our thoughts today are also with all of the families affected by the Hillcrest Primary School tragedy, and indeed the entire school community who are returning to the classroom today after the heartbreaking events of last year.

I know the Hillcrest Primary School is a strong and resilient community, and I speak on behalf of all Tasmanians when I wish them well as they restart their school journey this year.

The health and safety of Tasmanians has been our number one priority since the start of the pandemic, and it remains our focus as we welcome more than 60,000 Government school students back to the classroom today.

The Department of Education has worked closely with Public Health to develop our COVID Safety in School Plan, which ensures our schools are prepared.

I also want to specifically thank our school principals, teachers and other school staff for helping us ensure we are ready to welcome our students back to school.

COVID Care Packs have been made available including RATs, face masks and useful information on COVID-19.

In addition, we have delivered 4,500 air purifiers across the state, 1,560,000 surgical asks, 600,000 junior surgical masks, and 200,000 RAT tests for teachers and students, with more than 1.5 million RAT’s available to supply our schools in coming weeks.

Improving ventilation through the repair of windows in classrooms, enhancing outdoor learning options, and providing CO2 monitors to schools are other measures to ensure our schools are COVID safe.

The Department of Education has a number of strategies in place to secure our school staffing, with a pool of more than 1,700 relief teachers registered for us to draw upon if needed.

Importantly, we must keep up our COVID-safe behaviours, including hand washing and sanitising, mask wearing for adults and secondary students, regular cleaning, and social distancing for adults.

2022 holds so many exciting possibilities for our learners, and I hope every single child and young person grasps the opportunities presented to them and achieves their full potential.

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