Dominic Perrottet says he’s confident the return of students and teachers to schools throughout NSW will go well despite the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We brought forward the date for most schooling to return tomorrow. That’s exciting for the kids and for the parents and also for the teachers,” the premier told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“We’ve also said there will be challenges along the way. We know that, we’ve had a number of schools close but the alternative is to keep all schools closed.
“We’re not doing that.”
Asked about reports up to 160 schools throughout NSW had staffing issues as students returned, Mr Perrottet said he was aware there would be some shortages.
However 95 per cent of the state’s teachers had been vaccinated.
“I want to thank them for doing that because vaccination of our teachers has allowed us to open our schools as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We need our kids back learning again, we need our kids socialising and getting back to the school environment.
“I’m very confident that it will go well.”
The premier’s comments came as the state added 296 locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload along with four deaths: two men in their 60s, one in his 70s and one in his 80s.
Three were unvaccinated and one fully vaccinated.
There have been 498 COVID-related deaths in NSW since June 16 and 554 in total since the start of the pandemic.
Some 480 people with the virus remain in NSW hospitals, 119 of them in intensive care and 67 of those in need of ventilation.
Health officials say almost 67,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.
More than 93 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or over have now received at least one vaccine dose, while 84.4 per cent have had both jabs.
Among 12-15-year-olds, 77.6 per cent have had their first dose and 48.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Pressed on the issue of teaching shortages, Mr Perrottet said education officials were working through a range of scenarios.
“There will always be teachers and people across our state who just decide not to get vaccinated,” he said.
“That’s their choice. We believe it’s a bad choice but ultimately, that success rate of 95 per cent has helped us get our kids back in the classroom.”
Meanwhile, Halloween enthusiasts are being warned to keep trick-or-treating COVID-safe next weekend.
“If you and your family are planning to celebrate Halloween this year … aim to keep the celebrations outside, provide closed packaging for treats and instead of communal lolly bowls consider other ways to distribute your treats,” NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty advised on Saturday.