Isolation exemption for teachers announced by national cabinet

The national cabinet has announced it will expand the list of workers who will be exempt from COVID-19 isolation rules when they are a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. The decision follows recent announcements that certain workers who are close contacts will be allowed to attend work after a negative rapid antigen test and seeks to ease pressure on workplaces and supply chains. In the case of teachers, it is to keep schools open and students in classrooms so as to minimise workforce disruption with respect to parents and carers.

Yesterday’s national cabinet statement stated that isolation exemptions would extend to all teachers and childcare workers, as well as all non-public facing healthcare and support workers. Essential workers include:

  • Education and schooling services;
  • Early childhood education and care; and
  • Adult and higher education.

It is unclear as yet how the state and territory governments will implement this announcement, and to whom specifically the changing rules will apply to beyond teachers. The requirement for ongoing rapid antigen tests and for what duration testing is required has not been clarified in Victoria. The Victorian Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services have not released information about the change.

The plan to keep schools open

The national cabinet agreed to “key principles” about how schools will operate moving towards a COVID-normal.

The role of rapid antigen tests

Instead of isolating if a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, the broadened group of essential workers will be able to return to work with a negative rapid antigen test. The availability of rapid antigen tests and the responsibility for sourcing the tests is likely to be focus areas for schools and the Victorian government in the coming weeks.

How we can help

More detail on the implementation of the plan for schools, including surveillance testing using rapid antigen tests and mask-wearing policies, is likely be released next week by state and territory governments.

In the meantime, please contact us if we can assist.