18 February 2022

Next lot of RATs to be handed out to school students directly

| Lottie Twyford
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rats being packed into the back of a car

The school RAT rollout gets underway. Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT Government says the next round of rapid antigen test (RAT) kits will be distributed directly to school students who can then bring them home.

So far, all ACT schools and early childhood centres – including independent and Catholic schools – have received adequate RAT supplies for every student and staff member to have two tests per week for the first two weeks.

Over 100,000 RATs have been distributed by the ACT Government.

However, some parents have expressed frustration with the logistics of the operation. Some said they had been forced to take an hour or more off work in the middle of the day to pick up supplies for their children, while others had to queue for hours to get them.

A spokesperson for the ACT Government said it has listened to this feedback and will implement a new, more streamlined process for the next lot of deliveries.

“Two tests will be sent home with students to be used for the coming week,” the spokesperson said.

“Tests will be provided prior to the end of the school day and students will be encouraged to keep these in a safe place, such as their school bag. Each student will receive two tests for the week’s supply.”

Many Catholic schools had been distributing RATs in this way already, with the eldest child in each family collecting their own and their siblings’ test kits.

However, some parents thought public schools had been told by the Education Directorate that as the RATs are medical devices, they couldn’t be given to students directly.

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The Opposition welcomed what they described as a policy’ backflip’.

Canberra Liberals spokesperson for education Jeremy Hanson yesterday called for the government to allow school students to simply collect RATs at schools and bring them home.

“Making parents pick up the tests during the day from schools with little notice and using teachers, already understaffed to hand out the tests, was stressful and confusing,” Mr Hanson said.

“This is a common-sense approach and it is good to see the ACT Government take on board feedback.”

Parents and carers will receive communication from their school regarding the change to RAT distribution and when to expect their next RAT kits.

Public schools will make arrangements for families who do not want their child to receive their RATs themselves.

The ACT Government says the use of RATs is essential for anyone displaying symptoms. Twice-weekly surveillance testing is voluntary but “strongly recommended” for students and staff, plus early childhood education and care staff.

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What should have been a simple logistics exercise was poorly thought out, badly managed and inefficient. The incompetence of the Education Directorate was amply demonstrated in the complex arrangements devised for the collection of tests, involving checkpoints, QR codes, queues by day, time and surname, staff checking of QR codes, all set out in a 2 page letter to parents, which no doubt deterred many from collection.

RATs only indicate a positive result when you have a high viral load. When you have a low viral load you will most likely be asymptomatic and have a negative result. When your child has an illness you can use a RAT to tell if it’s Covid or something else. Either way the child should stay home.
A PCR test can detect Covid before you have symptoms, with a RAT this is very unlikely.

Please excuse my cynicism, I reckon there’ll be more than a couple of mum’s and dad’s who’ll look at the kid and say “you look healthy” and just put the RATs in their first aid kit.

Quean B. Ann8:05 pm 04 Feb 22

Oh kenbehrens your’re so funny! Since taking on that boorish and common moniker you think you’ve become an authority on everything Canberran! Can’t you come up with something original for goodness sake!!

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