October 14, 2021
Firbank Grammar – The first school to on-site Rapid COVID test
Schools have a duty to keep students and staff safe, says Firbank Grammar, the first school in Victoria to introduce COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing for everyone on campus.
With students set to return to on-site learning in schools, and COVID-19 cases rising, Firbank Grammar School will be the first school to provide rapid Covid-19 testing and will shortly be offering on-site booster vaccination doses.
Starting on Thursday, October 14, 2021, all people who enter the Senior School site will be tested twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays). Testing will be administered by qualified medical personnel from TLC Healthcare and supervised by the school's medical staff. All tests will be provided free of charge and with the consent of parents and guardians.
The rapid antigen test for COVID-19 is an accurate and reliable means of diagnosing COVID-19. With VCE students already on-site and preparing for exams, the school considers it is their duty to protect their students and community to achieve the best outcome for all, given the disruption to students' learning over the past 18 months.
With remaining students scheduled to return to on-site learning on a phased basis set by the Victorian government and increasing cases of community transmission, Principal Jenny Williams says it has never been a more critical time to protect the school community.
"If there were to be an outbreak in a school, we would need to close and clean the school immediately. It makes sense to reduce as many risks as we can, to prevent harm to our community and the long-term futures of students. We do not want our students to miss their final examinations when they have worked so hard over the past two years," she said.
"At Firbank Grammar School, student achievement, wellbeing, and a strong community are at the core of what we do and everything we do as educators. Part of this is providing the safest possible environment. While we cannot eliminate all risks, we can follow our principles to do the best we can to flourish, especially in the most challenging times. If we all step up, get vaccinated, follow the rules, and do our best to keep safe, we can get to a 'new' normal way of life sooner," said Williams.
VCE student Mackenzy Muller, who, as a student boarder, relies on the school to be safe to complete her studies, says that it's a relief to know that the school is doing all that it can to protect her during this critical time in her education. "It's a worrying time, exams, future choices and COVID-19; anything that can be done to keep us safe is a relief in possibly some of the most stressful times I can think of," she said.
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The school says It has a duty to keep everyone in their care as safe as possible from COVID-19, and that means they should have a comprehensive health and safety strategy in place. Principal Jenny Williams says that it is logical to follow the best medical advice available and get ahead of the game. She says that the school's protection plan has three main elements:
Firstly, vaccination is critical. The school has previously organised appointments for the entire student and staff body to be vaccinated and was the first to make vaccinations mandatory for staff. Additionally, the school will be offering on-site booster vaccinations in the coming months, when available via a dedicated health team from TLC Healthcare. This company provided the first and second doses of vaccinations for our community.
Secondly, we all need to understand the importance of not coming to work or school feeling unwell. This is one of the most crucial factors in preventing transmission in the school. Once at school, we have made sure that all COVID-safe measures that could be taken have been taken. This includes airflow testing for all the classrooms and the use of purification devices where needed.
Screening is the final element of our current plan. This means requiring all staff and visitors to be fully vaccinated and administering rapid antigen testing. The current list of permitted visitors will be updated following future changes to restrictions.
The school says that rapid antigen testing will give parents the confidence to know that Firbank is doing all it can, to be responsible community members. "We all need to work together with the ever-changing rules and guidelines. We have learned more than ever how to be agile in our school, and we were ahead of the game when it came to online learning; we are leading the way now with on-site safety," Principal Jenny Williams said.