Wagga parents remain split as to whether school should have a delayed start amid the growing Omicron outbreak.
While some parents want the school year delayed to get their children vaccinated, others have voiced concerns the lack of routine and face-to-face learning will have negative consequences for students.
Wagga mother Gail Alderton said if the beginning of school isn't delayed, she will be forced to keep her four-year-old daughter back a year and not begin Kindergarten until 2023.
"I was going to send her but I realised she's not five until March," Ms Alderton said, wanting to have her daughter vaccinated against COVID-19 when eligible.
"I want to get her protected before she goes back to school."
Ms Alderton also has two teenagers and is feeling anxious about them going back to school as New South Wales continues to record well over 20,000 new cases of COVID each day, including hundreds within the local health district.
"When I've been seeing the numbers going up and up and up, it actually scares me," she said.
Her partner Lincoln Donohoo argues that school should be delayed for up to a full term.
"School should be delayed for term 1 to give parents a chance to get their [children] vaccinated ready for term 2," he said.
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Wagga mother Amanda Loughman also believes school should be delayed, but just by two or three weeks to let the peak of the Omicron outbreak pass.
She agrees that a delay to the start of school would give parents a chance to get their children vaccinated, adding that children went into lockdown for weeks last year when there were little-to-no cases in Wagga.
"It's running rife really at the moment, well over 600 cases a day in the local health district, and so to be sending kids back at the moment is a bit crazy," Ms Loughman said.
Put in as much restrictions as you need for us adults ... but don't take it away from the kids.Wagga mother Stephanie Poll
Meanwhile, Wagga mother Stephanie Poll is praying that school is able to proceed as normal to give her special-needs children the support and routine that they need.
"Schooling is so important for their routine, so for that not to happen is scary," she said.
Ms Poll's youngest is about to begin Kindergarten, and while she would love to be there in-person for her first day, she said she would be "more than happy" to take a step back to allow her daughter to experience that milestone.
"She shouldn't have to be stuck at home," she said.
"I'm already their mum, part of their therapy team ... I can't be their teacher as well."
Ms Poll's eldest is about to enter Year 5. She explained that children with special needs begin preparing for high school from Year 4, and due to disruptions last year, this process hasn't started for her son.
"This year if that's the same thing that happens, then I've really only got Year 6 to prepare him," she said.
"Put in as much restrictions as you need for us adults ... but don't take it away from the kids."
The ongoing back-to-school discussion follows comments from Wagga MP Joe McGirr on Friday, who said the state government should consider delaying the term if adequate COVID safety measures aren't in place from day one.
"There must be an adequate supply of rapid antigen tests and consideration needs to be given to issues such as adequate ventilation and mask wearing," he said.
"I am also concerned that, with vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 only just becoming available, vaccination rates may not be high enough by the time school is due to begin.
"The government may need to consider delaying the start of the school year by a week or two to make sure all of these measures are in place."
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