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Gladys Berejiklian has remained tight-lipped about whether children will be allowed to return to the classroom as the state’s crisis cabinet prepares to discuss the matter on Wednesday.

The New South Wales Premier has been privately pushing for the return of in-person learning on October 5 when term four commences.

But with school-aged children now making up about 25 per cent of all new Covid cases it remains to be seen whether that will be possible.

Ms Berejiklian refused to say if an alternate date had been discussed but did reveal the state’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant had ‘signed off’ on ‘major new freedom for the fully vaccinated with the details set to be unveiled later this week.

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Nine News speaking to Peter Overton) has remained tight-lipped about whether children will be allowed to return to the classroom as the state's crisis cabinet prepares to discuss the matter on Wednesday

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Nine News speaking to Peter Overton) has remained tight-lipped about whether children will be allowed to return to the classroom as the state's crisis cabinet prepares to discuss the matter on Wednesday

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Nine News speaking to Peter Overton) has remained tight-lipped about whether children will be allowed to return to the classroom as the state’s crisis cabinet prepares to discuss the matter on Wednesday

‘That is what is causing me the greatest stress, making sure we can get kids back to school as safely as possible,’ the Premier told Nine News.

‘We will have something to say about it at the end of the week but getting kids back to school is an absolute priority for us.

‘But we also know the Delta strain is affecting children in a different way than other strains of Covid did and that is why we need to be really careful when we release our plans.’

Delta-ravaged NSW recorded a further 753 infections on Tuesday, with Sydneysiders battling through their ninth consecutive week under stay-at-home orders.

Ms Berejiklian in the past few days has spoken bluntly about how the state’s only chance to get out of lockdown is to achieve a vaccination rate above 70 per cent – as outlined in the Doherty Institute roadmap.

While the target is not expected to be reached until October, the Premier promised double-dosed residents would be given one extra freedoms when NSW completes six million jabs.

Many political insiders have tipped the fully-vaccinated will finally be able to get a hair cut after months in lockdown, others have suggest it may be the reopening of beauty and nail salons (pictured, a Sydney salon before lockdown)

Many political insiders have tipped the fully-vaccinated will finally be able to get a hair cut after months in lockdown, others have suggest it may be the reopening of beauty and nail salons (pictured, a Sydney salon before lockdown)

Many political insiders have tipped the fully-vaccinated will finally be able to get a hair cut after months in lockdown, others have suggest it may be the reopening of beauty and nail salons (pictured, a Sydney salon before lockdown)

Ms Berejiklian said: 'We will have something to say about it at the end of the week but getting kids back to school is an absolute priority for us' (pictured, students in Strathfield)

Ms Berejiklian said: 'We will have something to say about it at the end of the week but getting kids back to school is an absolute priority for us' (pictured, students in Strathfield)

Ms Berejiklian said: ‘We will have something to say about it at the end of the week but getting kids back to school is an absolute priority for us’ (pictured, students in Strathfield)

That target was hit on Tuesday, one week earlier than than scheduled, after a huge vaccination drive, particularly in south-west Sydney where daily Covid cases are in their hundreds.

Many political insiders have tipped the fully-vaccinated will finally be able to get a hair cut after months in lockdown, others have suggest it may be the reopening of beauty and nail salons.     

But the Premier says she’s not yet ready to reveal what the ‘major new freedom’ will be with further details still be ironed out.

‘The positive thing is Dr Chant has agreed to give our citizens that extra bit of freedom,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘Our public health teams have been working really hard to bring that to fruition and we want to make sure as many people as possible have that extra glimmer of hope during September because everybody has worked so hard.

‘As much as I’d like to give details today, we are still finalising them and we will be able to say something on Thursday or Friday.’

Ms Berejiklian in the past few days has spoken bluntly about how the state's only chance to get out of lockdown is to achieve a vaccination rate above 70 per cent - as outlined in the Doherty Institute roadmap. Pictured: A Year 12 HSC students receives the Covid vaccine in Sydney

Ms Berejiklian in the past few days has spoken bluntly about how the state's only chance to get out of lockdown is to achieve a vaccination rate above 70 per cent - as outlined in the Doherty Institute roadmap. Pictured: A Year 12 HSC students receives the Covid vaccine in Sydney

Ms Berejiklian in the past few days has spoken bluntly about how the state’s only chance to get out of lockdown is to achieve a vaccination rate above 70 per cent – as outlined in the Doherty Institute roadmap. Pictured: A Year 12 HSC students receives the Covid vaccine in Sydney

Since the pandemic began only one Australian child has died after catching Covid – and his death was officially caused by viral meningitis. 

The revealing statistic comes as many parents fret about Scott Morrison and Ms Berejiklian’s plan to re-open Australia when 80 per cent of adults are vaccinated.

NSW looks likely to hit the target by about mid-November and the PM has warned lockdowns ‘must’ end when the target is hit. 

But there is growing anxiety over whether the plan could place children at risk, given there isn’t yet a vaccine for kids aged under 12.  

Some 8,581 Australians aged under 20 have tested positive to Covid since the pandemic began, according to the Federal Department of Health. However, there has been only one death associated with Covid in that age group. 

Osama Suduh, 15, died at Westmead Children’s Hospital on August 15.  Osama was suffering both Covid and pneumococcal meningitis, and meningitis was listed as his formal cause of death. 

 

Armies of forensic cleaners have been a more common sight than students at schools in the country's biggest states of late (pictured, deep cleaners at Carlton Public School in Sydney on Monday)

Armies of forensic cleaners have been a more common sight than students at schools in the country's biggest states of late (pictured, deep cleaners at Carlton Public School in Sydney on Monday)

Armies of forensic cleaners have been a more common sight than students at schools in the country’s biggest states of late (pictured, deep cleaners at Carlton Public School in Sydney on Monday)

‘We are not seeing more severe illness with Delta, we are just seeing so much more of it 

There has been an uptick in cases of young people testing positive to Covid in this year’s Delta wave.  At the weekend NSW authorities reported 204 cases of Covid in children aged up to nine, plus 276 aged between 10 and 19.  

Meanwhile, in the US, the number of American children hospitalised from Covid has climbed to 277 a day on average, according to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While more children are getting infected because Delta is more contagious and as they can’t be vaccinated, doctors so far don’t believe the variant is more lethal. 

Dr Ritu Banerjee, from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Tennessee, told the ABC’s 7.30 program his hospital had to open a second Covid ward due to the surge.

Tennessee has a transmission rate about nine times that of NSW, but Dr Banerjee’s hospital has recorded just two Covid-related child deaths during the pandemic.

Doherty Institute Professor Sharon Lewin (above) says Australia doesn't want kids to catch Covid - but has argued very few children end up in hospital suffering severe disease as a result of it

Doherty Institute Professor Sharon Lewin (above) says Australia doesn't want kids to catch Covid - but has argued very few children end up in hospital suffering severe disease as a result of it

Doherty Institute Professor Sharon Lewin (above) says Australia doesn’t want kids to catch Covid – but has argued very few children end up in hospital suffering severe disease as a result of it

‘We are not seeing more severe illness with Delta, we are just seeing so much more of it,’ Dr Banerjee said. 

‘So the overall number of children in the hospital is greater than we were seeing earlier.’  

Infectious diseases expert Professor Sharon Lewin helped produce the Doherty Institute report which Australia’s opening up plan is based upon. 

Prof Lewin said: ‘Covid is a nasty illness and we don’t want children to get it. But very few children end up with severe disease in hospital.’  

As for fears children will contract ‘Long Covid’ – where symptoms linger long after the initial infection, as seen in millions living overseas – Prof. Lewin told The Drum the condition is more common in people with severe disease, ‘so I expect we would see much lower levels of Long Covid in children’.

Australia has delivered more than 15 million jabs and the vaccination program is escalating quickly

Australia has delivered more than 15 million jabs and the vaccination program is escalating quickly

Australia has delivered more than 15 million jabs and the vaccination program is escalating quickly

Meanwhile, the return to school will be staggered for children in NSW, authorities have confirmed, and kids of all ages are likely to be vaccinated eventually, with clinical trials underway.

NSW top doctor Dr Chant told a parliamentary hearing on Monday that she anticipates 12-to-15-year-olds will be vaccinated ‘quite quickly’.

Vaccinations for all 12 to 15-year-olds are expected to get the greenlight from federal authorities as early as Friday.

‘The other children will have access to vaccine in the new year,’ Dr Chant said.  

Ms Berejiklian will announce plans for when students will return to the classroom later this week. 

Nine newspapers have tipped that students from kindergarten to Year 2, in Year 11 and potentially Year 6 will go back to school in October.

When the rest of the cohort goes back will depend on case numbers.  

Source: DailyMail

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