Students who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases will not be able to attend ACT public schools even if they are asymptomatic and test negative to the virus for at least the first two weeks of second term.
This is despite the territory winding back quarantine rules for household contacts from midnight Tuesday.
Students will also be required to wear masks even though ACT Health will end its schools mask mandate.
ACT Health will drop its direction that secondary students and staff must wear masks at schools, but the Education Directorate has confirmed it will retain its policy of mandatory masks for at least the first two weeks of term.
Education Directorate director-general Katy Haire said on Friday public schools would retain the COVID-safety measures that were in place in term 1 while officials consulted with unions and staff on workplace safety requirements.
"This means that public school staff and secondary students will continue to wear masks, Check in CBR app will continue to be required for visitors, and household close contacts will not be able to attend public school sites, even if they are asymptomatic," Ms Haire said.
Chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said it was her view a mandate for mask wearing in school settings was no longer a proportionate response to COVID-19.
"Taking into account our improved understanding of the severity of the Omicron variant, our community vaccination coverage and broader mask wearing requirements across other settings in the ACT - now is an appropriate time for this change to be implemented," Dr Coleman said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
The school mask mandate will end at 11.59pm on Monday, April 25.
Health authorities will continue to "strongly recommend" masks are worn by adults and students when in small indoor settings, other than general classroom environments, where physical distancing is not possible.
"We know that mask-wearing helps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and staff and students are encouraged to continue wearing masks if they choose to do so, particularly if it helps them to feel more protected. Wearing a mask is a simple COVID-smart action that we all can take - a simple way to take personal responsibility for own health and protection," Dr Coleman said.
ACT Health said schools would need to consider the implications of the changes to public health requirements and review their COVID safety plans accordingly.
Ms Haire said public schools would communicate directly with staff, parents and carers as COVID safety measures were adjusted.
Non-government schools will confirm the arrangements covering term 2 with their staff and families, ACT Health and the Education Directorate said in a joint statement.
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Ms Stephen-Smith said given the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, students were already coming to school infectious with the coronavirus.
"I think this is again back to that risk management of if someone's had a negative rapid antigen test, do they pose any more significant risks than someone else in the community who isn't a known household contact?" Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC radio.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday, April 26, close household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the ACT will no longer have to quarantine for seven days if they comply with a series of conditions.
Close contacts must return negative rapid antigen tests before mixing in the community, work from home where it is possible to do so and only attend places of work or study where they agree with their employer it is safe to do so.
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