Albion Park Rail's Natalie Buddle expected she would worry about how her daughter with special needs would fit into kindergarten this year, not having to do rapid antigen tests on her.
Ms Buddle's daughter has Triple X syndrome and a rare genetic condition, causing behavioural and sensory issues.
Amari will start in a mainstream class and will have a support teacher with her.
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But now Ms Buddle is nervous and concerned about doing RATs on Amari as she hates to have her face touched. Her mother struggles to get her to blow her nose let alone stick a swab up it.
"It is going to be hard and a challenge to get the tests done, especially two times per week," Ms Buddle said. "It will be quite traumatic for Amari and other children."
Ms Buddle said she was surprised the announcement was made so close to students returning to school and had been disappointed in the amount of information available, especially for children with additional needs.
She said she would still try to perform the tests because she believed in parents doing their part to keep students safe as they return to school.
"I am a bit uncomfortable because as a parent you want your child and other kids to be safe and you expect that back from other parents," Ms Buddle said. "The only way it will work is if everyone does it otherwise there isn't much point."
Ms Buddle hopes there is an option for oral swabs for children who have special needs.
"I still have a lot of questions and need more information," she said.
While Kristen Brushwood said she was initially worried the RATs would be mandated and was worried that her son Darcy, who has sensory processing disorder, wouldn't be able to do the test without "extreme trauma".
"If I couldn't do the test then he wouldn't be able to go back to school, which after two very difficult years thanks to COVID, would have had a negative impact on his future development," she said.
But when speaking with a member of Darcy's additional needs school, it was acknowledged how difficult the task of testing would be for students like Darcy. It was recommended Ms Brushwood should try to test him but understood if it was not possible.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said rapid antigen home tests were one of many measures the department was using to help reduce disruption and return students and staff to the classroom sooner.
"For the first four weeks of term, students will be asked to conduct surveillance tests at home twice a week. Testing is not mandatory, however is highly recommended," she said.
"Parents and carers should always monitor for symptoms, and are best placed to determine if their child is able to have the rapid antigen test administered in the home.
"The Department of Education is sending staff and students in Schools for Specific Purposes and support classes additional RATs, both nasal and oral swab types, to support daily testing for the school week."
This week NSW Department of Education secretary Georgina Harrison here were some "great materials online" that would be made available to parents through schools when asked about children with special needs being tested.
While Health Minister Brad Hazzard said children would "learn very quickly to accommodate having the rapid antigen tests" and parents would need to "quietly and calmly" talk to their children about the "simple process".
Wollongong's Simon Tinker has three children with special needs and was worried about testing his second child, aged 11, in particular who has ADHD, sensory issues and autism.
"When we had to get him tested previously, it would lead to a massive meltdown and it was very traumatising for him. He told us he didn't want to go to school when it was first announced," Mr Tinker said.
But after his wife contacted the principal of the school and told the tests were recommended not mandatory, the parents felt better as the staff were understanding.
"We will only test him if he is symptomatic."
Several parents took to Facebook to raise their worries.
Debby Pearce said she was "stressed about how the kids with disabilities are going to cope".
"I can be an hour early and then end up an hour late over a meltdown about socks. Living with kids with disabilities is challenging at the best of times. I know my grandson won't be happy doing the test, he is seven with autism, ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder."
While Kelsie Lord said she had "Buckleys chance" of getting the test done on her middle boy.
"I can tell you now, I'm not risking getting kicked in the shins and punches to the face twice a week," she said.
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