Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3488 ..
a school community who were willing to participate. And it would have had to become an exposure site within a two-week period.
We were also really conscious of the fact that it has been a very long year. While I recognise that some parents would certainly appreciate being able to participate in a rapid antigen test pilot, for others some of the feedback we had was, “Oh my goodness, not one more thing that I would have to think about and do!” That was certainly some of the feedback that we had from staff, as well. So, on balance—weighing up the pros and cons of a rapid antigen test pilot at this time of the year, and what we would learn from a pilot—we determined not to go ahead with it.
We will have the opportunity to look at the experience in New South Wales and Victoria, with the various things that they are doing. I note that even in the couple of days between cabinet consideration and announcement and within a couple of days after that Victoria changed its own arrangements around schools, as well. Their situation was evolving very rapidly. Really, it was about the fact that we only had four weeks left of the school term. Everyone is very tired at the end of a very long year, and there was a whole range of criteria that may or may not be met to make a pilot helpful.
MRS JONES: Minister, will a pilot or general availability of this testing be made available next year?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: It is certainly our intent to go ahead with a pilot for rapid antigen testing in schools in term 1 of 2022. We will be able to learn from what has been done in New South Wales and Victoria and from the experience overseas, as well, where broad-based rapid antigen testing for screening has been trialled and then abandoned but rapid antigen testing on a test-to-stay basis, where it is applied to those students and teachers who would otherwise have to quarantine, has been rolled-out. We do have things to learn from that, and that is the type of pilot we were thinking about doing here in the ACT. So we are certainly undertaking the planning work to establish a pilot program for schools in term 1 of 2022, and we will have the advantage of learning from what is happening in other jurisdictions. I also note that in New South Wales the current pilot, including in Queanbeyan West school, has not completely eliminating the need for students to quarantine, but is reducing the quarantine period from 14 days to seven days. There are various different models, and this will enable us to look at what is happening across different jurisdictions and to determine what kind of model we would like to pilot next year.
MR HANSON: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why, when over 95 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated and only have to quarantine for seven days, do we still require children who are close contacts to quarantine for 14 days?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Unvaccinated children are subject to the same quarantine requirements as unvaccinated adults.
MR HANSON: My question is to the minister for planning. Minister, the EPSDD commissioned a report from AT Adams Consulting to outline how to proceed with the