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RAT reluctance as parents return kids to school

NSW Premier Perrottet (2nd from right) and Health Minister Hazzard (right) welcome students back to school

As school students return for the start of the year, a new survey has shown nearly one in three parents won't follow rapid testing requirements.

The survey found nearly one in three parents in NSW and Victoria don't plan to follow state government guidelines requiring twice weekly rapid antigen tests of school students.

While 70 per cent of parents surveyed by consultancy firm Nature said they would follow the guidelines, 15 per cent said they would only use the rapid tests if their child had symptoms.

The survey also revealed 13 per cent of parents said testing would only be done once a week or less while two per cent said they would never test their children.

Nearly 40 per cent of respondents said rapid tests provided by the government for returning to school would be saved for other occasions.

Nature's managing partner Chris Cook said the findings raised questions about the effectiveness of the scheme.

"If a third of people are not going to follow the policy correctly, it raises the question of whether it's worth doing it at all."

The latest vaccination figures have shown more than 40 per cent of five to 11-year-olds have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the cohort was the fastest vaccinated age group in the country, telling reporters on Monday:

"Very significantly, some schools and some school districts are holding school-based vaccination programs and if your child hasn't been vaccinated, please allow them to be vaccinated."

Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said while states and territories would undergo rapid testing of students, case numbers would most likely rise following a recent plateau of Omicron infections:

"With schools returning and many children doing regular rapid antigen tests, we do expect to see a rise in the number of reported cases."
"This is because although infection with the Omicron variant can lead to moderate or severe illness in some people, in most people it causes mild symptoms or no symptoms at all - especially in children."

Acting federal education minister Stuart Robert said modelling indicated there would be an increase in transmission, but didn't reveal what the expected increase would be.


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