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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3487 ..


ensure that all Canberra’s children are equipped with the knowledge and skills to prosper in what is an exciting but also uncertain future.

More than ever, we need to focus on preparing our young people so that they have the opportunity to live a full and rewarding life, to foster the creativity and resilience they will need to respond to the challenges ahead and to participate in society as engaged, thoughtful and compassionate citizens.

Education not only underpins our economy; it is the foundation stone of our culture and our society. What happens in schools happens in our community. Equity in schools will flow beyond the school gates into our lives. If we want a fairer, more equal society, where opportunity is available to all, we must deliver the highest standards of education. This is the essential purpose of our 2021-22 education budget.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 11.51 am to 2.00 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR BARR: The Deputy Chief Minister will be absent from question time today. I will endeavour to assist members with any questions in the Deputy Chief Minister’s portfolios.

Questions without notice

Schools—COVID-19

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, in mid-November you stated that the use of rapid antigen testing was being considered for ACT schools to assist children to be back in the classroom after an exposure to COVID faster than the current 14 days. A 14-day stay-at-home is a long time for children who have already had to endure months of lockdown this year. By 20 November you had decided we would not have rapid antigen testing in schools. Since then, more than one school has had numerous students sent home to isolate for 14 days, not leaving the house, with advice being to try and remain separate to others in their household. Minister, why are you not proceeding with rapid antigen testing?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mrs Jones for the question. This was a matter that was very carefully considered by ACT Health, by the Education Directorate and, indeed, by the cabinet. The issue was that when we got to that point, we had four weeks left of the school term in which we could potentially implement a pilot. In order for a pilot to be useful it would have had to be able to be implemented over the whole two-week period. We would have had to have an appropriate school turn out to be an exposure site—an appropriate school with an appropriate class, with parents and


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