News Coronavirus COVID-19 case forces WA school closure

COVID-19 case forces WA school closure

school teachers strike
The strike will go ahead as teachers seek pay rises of five to 7.5 per cent while struggling with their workload. Photo: AAP
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A single case of COVID-19 has forced the temporary closure of an entire Perth primary school as the West Australian government maintains its hardline pandemic management.

Winterfold Primary School in Perth’s southern suburbs kept its doors closed on Wednesday after it was confirmed a teacher had tested positive.

The teacher was believed to have been infectious while attending school on Monday, the first day of the school year.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said families and staff were contacted on Tuesday to notify them of the confirmed case.

The school will remain closed until further notice while cleaning, testing and contact tracing is carried out.

Anyone deemed to have been a close contact faces 14 days in quarantine. Under the McGowan government’s current definitions, this is likely to include anyone who was in the same classroom as the teacher.

Premier Mark McGowan has promised isolation periods will be halved for COVID-infected people and their close contacts but only when the state reaches a yet-to-be defined higher caseload.

Schools will be subject to slightly different requirements.

Teachers and students who come into contact with a positive case but do not develop symptoms will be encouraged to continue attending school, unless they had close one-on-one contact with the infected person.

WA Principals Federation president Bevan Ripp questioned the point of waiting to apply the new definitions.

“We are operating in a period where there are staff shortages. The pools of relief teachers have been absolutely decimated,” he told ABC radio.

The government’s refusal to say when the borders will reopen or when close contact definitions will change has frustrated the business community as the state’s Omicron outbreak grows.

Qantas chair Richard Goyder and Wesfarmers chief executive Rob Scott are among the local heavyweights who have publicly criticised the premier in recent weeks.

Mr McGowan has also had some blowback from the powerful resources sector after the virus spread to mine sites operated by BHP and 29Metals this week.

WA’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy urged the government to immediately reduce quarantine periods for close contacts or risk widespread disruption.