Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called out the Andrews Labor Government for failing to fulfil its guarantee that students and staff would have a full suite of COVIDSafe measures in place to help protect them when they arrived back at school this week.
Among these measures was a promise to deliver enough rapid antigen tests (RATs) for primary and secondary school students and teachers across the state for two weeks, with the government recommending that surveillance testing be completed twice weekly to “help stop the spread of coronavirus in schools and early childhood settings before it reaches the classroom”.
However Ms Kealy said a number of schools across the Lowan electorate were yet to receive enough supplies for their students and staff.
“I am aware of one school that has only received enough test kits for two thirds of its cohort, meaning hundreds of students have not had the opportunity to access a test. This is simply unacceptable from a government that has had months to prepare for school returning and even longer to secure a large enough supply of rapid tests for our state,” she said.
“Schools can’t get information from the government about when they can expect more tests to arrive and have been forced to turn away families who want to be able to complete the testing.
“Teachers have also raised concerns that tests were not delivered before they were back on-site, meaning they did not have an opportunity to test before engaging with students. Schools have also struggled to get clear instructions from the government about arrangements if staff have to isolate.
“This flies in the face of what Labor would have us believe. On Monday, the Minister for Education said the government had ‘done the work to make sure schools are as safe as they can be – so we can keep our school communities protected and ensure that 2022 is a much less disrupted year of learning’. But we now know this isn’t the case.”
Ms Kealy said the government had the opportunity to start securing rapid tests in the middle of last year – something the Nationals and Liberals had called for them to do – but waited until Christmas Eve to order supplies.
“Today we’ve seen the government spruik its support for RATs to be manufactured in Victoria, promising one million tests a month from April. But this is too little, too late,” she said.
“Victorians have been battling to get access to rapid tests for months, but the government shunned the need for them when they had the opportunity to procure supplies last year.
“We should have had a secure supply chain in place months ago, but instead the government is playing catch-up, and leaving Victorians to once again pay the price for their mistakes.”