Remaining pupils will return to NSW classrooms with the premier optimistic about face-to-face education despite some schools already closing for deep cleaning after COVID-19 cases.
Kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students went back to school in NSW last week and remaining students return to classrooms on Monday.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says there will be challenges in school resuming but he is “very confident” it will go well.
“We’ve had a number of schools close but the alternative is to keep all schools closed,” Mr Perrottet told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“We’re not doing that.”
On Sunday night, NSW Education announced a further 16 schools were closed for cleaning and contact tracing after positive COVID-19 tests in their communities.
It follows the closure of two schools on Saturday and seven on Friday, some of which are reopening on Monday.
Asked about reports up to 160 schools throughout NSW had staffing issues as students returned, Mr Perrottet said he was aware there would be some shortages.
“There will always be teachers and people across our state who just decide not to get vaccinated,” he said.
“That’s their choice. We believe it’s a bad choice but ultimately, that success rate of 95 per cent has helped us get our kids back in the classroom.”
Opposition Leader Chris Minns on Sunday said he would push the government to provide extra funding for counselling and tutoring to help kids who might have “skipped a beat” with the recent disruptions to schooling in NSW.
The state added 296 locally acquired infections to its COVID-19 caseload on Sunday along with four deaths: two men in their 60s, one in his 70s and one in his 80s.
Three of the men who were counted in Sunday’s COVID-19 death toll were unvaccinated while one was fully vaccinated.
There have been 498 COVID-related deaths in NSW since June 16 and 554 in total since the start of the pandemic.
Some 480 people with the virus remain in NSW hospitals, 119 of them in intensive care and 67 of those requiring ventilation.
More than 93 per cent of NSW residents aged 16 or over have now received at least one vaccine dose, while 84.4 per cent have had both jabs.
Meanwhile, the NSW government on Sunday launched a $10 million tourism campaign ahead of international travel restrictions easing in November.
“The reality is when people think of Australia, they think of New South Wales, they think of Sydney,” Mr Perrottet said.