Vaccinated parents of school children deemed close contacts of a COVID case no longer have to isolate alongside their child, under new rules yet to be effectively communicated in the mainstream.
While parents had been told they needed to isolate for the full two week period alongside their children, assuming they share the same household, fully vaccinated parents now no longer need to self isolate but must avoid high risk settings such as health care, aged care, early childhood centres, primary schools and correctional facilities during their child’s isolation period. We understand this advice was updated on Monday but are not aware of any public announcement over the change.
We began to investigate the issue after parents of students at Curl Curl North Public School reported significant confusion and conflicting health advice after a child in one of their kindy classes was found to be COVID positive.
We spoke to three different families who were all in the same situation – their child had shared a kindy class with a COVID-positive kid at the school– one had been told they had to isolate with their child the full two weeks, another was told vaccinated parents only had to isolate for a week, and another was sent to an updated FAQ on Health’s website that said vaccinated people sharing a household with a close contact simply had to avoid high risk settings but did not need to isolate.
It took five days of back and forth between (what we appreciate is a busy) Health media office to get a clear yes or no on what is the current advice, but we have it.
The context of the conversation was about the rules for parents of children who had been deemed close contacts.
MO: “Can you confirm yes or no that this is correct advice: “If you are fully vaccinated, you will not need to self-isolate but you must not attend high-risk settings (health care, disability care, early childhood centres, primary schools and correctional facilities) during the close contact’s isolation period.”
Department of Health spokesperson: “Yes.”
“Information in the FAQ is correct advice; [we] would strongly advise recommending parents or carer to review that FAQ and associated close contact sheet (which is linked to in the FAQ) for advice.”
The news will come as a welcome relief to Curl Curl parents such as Dani Jordan, whose husband has been in exile since one of her kids became a close contact. It was the only way of ensuring he could keep their café business going. Of course, having to supervise her six year old and avoid childcare settings with her four year old, her options remain limited. But it may allow for a grocery shop and for dad to return home, if he chooses.
Messaging from the school and from the formal statement we received from the Department of Education all still points to parents needing to isolate with their child for the full two week period , so it may take some time – or an announcement or more media attention – before we are all on the same page. You can view that page (the FAQ) yourself, here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/isolation-advice-for-parents-and-carers.aspx