Rapid antigen tests in schools will be "an early warning" tool rather than an alternative to PCR tests, Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant says.
NSW Health held a live webinar for Albury schools on Friday afternoon as part of her visit to the border.
Dr Chant, who also met separately with principals, detailed how rapid antigen tests being rolled out to all schools in Albury this week would be used.
"The idea is, it's an early warning system; if someone has got COVID, on Monday morning the tests are done, and that would prevent that child (who tests positive) going to school on Monday morning," she said.
"The test errs on the side of throwing up false positive ... but we would like to trial it ... we think in the end it might be more beneficial in preventing schools being closed.
"Anyone who's got symptoms should have the traditional nose and throat swab - it is really important to make that distinction."
Dr Chant said NSW Health's "learning" from the Albury outbreak was "to better communicate what action parents need to take".
"No service can cope when there's a big influx because parents are concerned or confused with the messages," she said.
"If your child is a close contact, which will largely just be the friendship group of that affected child or their class group ... you as a parent do not need to self isolate with the child.
"In the past we would have almost taken the whole school out of action, but now as we move to this transition phase, in endemic COVID. we need to re-calibrate.
"What we're doing at the moment is trying to maintain control and reasonably low levels of virus circulation in the community, whilst we buy additional time to make sure that we vaccinate all parents who haven't had the chance to get vaccinated or young people over the age of 12."
Professor Kristine Macartney of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance joined Dr Chant in answering pre-submitted questions to the webinar, and predicted an Australian decision in vaccines for children under 12 was "still probably a number of months away".
"The TGA and its advisory groups must give that really close scrutiny," she said.
"When we make decisions about vaccines, we always want to make sure that the benefits for children and adults who are being vaccinated outweigh any potential risks from the vaccine.
"So far the safety data looks really good in this age group, but children generally get milder infection, so those balance of benefits and risks and every single scrap of data gets really, really scrutinised.
"That will take a bit longer.
Professor Macartney said infection control measures in schools made schools safer for kids than general community settings.
"If someone comes to school and they've got the virus, around five out of every 100 people that they're in close contact with might catch a virus," she said.
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"Child-to-child transmission is the lowest of all the types of transmission that we see.
"Children are much less likely to be hospitalised than adults, it can happen, which is why we do all the measures that we do, but it's much less likely.
"If this virus only caused a cold or a mild flu, we wouldn't have had a pandemic."
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