A phrase used a lot in post national cabinet press conferences has been "we will have more to say about that next week". This was also a recurrent refrain when the Prime Minister spoke on Thursday about safety measures for the return to school.
While Mr Morrison was adamant schools would reopen on time - except of course in those states where they won't - there was a marked lack of detail about the safeguards that would be implemented to protect school staff and students when this occurred.
That was unfortunate given hundreds of thousands of parents, especially those with children aged from five to 11, are understandably nervous about how safe these youngsters will be when they either go to school for the first time or return to the classroom in the middle of a rapidly spreading pandemic.
Their apprehensions are well-founded given that according to the "national framework for managing COVID-19 in schools and early childhood education and care" released on Thursday: "With high levels of community transmission, COVID-19 transmission will occur in education settings and contribute to overall levels of community transmission".
It went on to state that: "For most of Term 1, 2022 the difference between primary and secondary school settings will be more marked as it will take time to build strong vaccination coverage of children aged five to 11 years".
As of Thursday only 6 per cent of five to 11 year olds had received their first dose. While over 75 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds have had their second dose parents are still reporting difficulties in making bookings.
When the Prime Minister was asked whether or not rapid antigen tests would be given out for free in schools, and if they would be used to conduct "surveillance testing" on pupils as well as teachers, his response was: "There are issues we're working through. The ... role of surveillance testing for students, but also what is a more high priority necessity for teachers ... so we'll have more to say about that next week".
Mr Morrison, who made a strong economic argument for reopening the schools on schedule, defended the lack of detail about how this was going to be managed.
"Supporting essential workers in education and childcare will be important," he said. "The Commonwealth and the states are working together to have 50-50 funding arrangements in place ... certainly by the time school comes back, and we'll have a bit more to say about that next week".
Mr Morrison then cited the delay in announcing the mechanism for the roll-out of free RATs to concession card holders: "We were able to detail those plans over the course of this week and bring them into agreement now," he said.
While that is well and good, and people understand making policy takes time, the clock is ticking. ACT schools are scheduled to reopen on January 31. Term 1 in NSW begins on January 28. To leave a substantive announcement about specific measures that will affect the lives of millions until what is essentially the 11th hour is not good enough.
Surely, given Omicron was already spreading like wildfire before the start of the summer break last year, federal, state, and territory leaders should have been making contingency plans for the return to school in 2022 weeks ago. Did they think this problem was going to resolve itself?
While there are compelling economic arguments to bring schools back on schedule - and many parents shudder at the prospect of a third year of home schooling - the public is entitled to know what is being done to promote a safe learning environment.
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