A long-running health saga at a high school in north-west NSW has re-emerged, prompting an urgent return to remote learning.

Key points:

  • More students and staff at Wee Waa High School have developed health issues
  • The school’s demountable buildings will be cleaned
  • An investigation into the source of issues continues

More than 50 students and staff at Wee Waa High School fell ill last year with symptoms consistent with exposure to mould.

The school was closed in term four and classes were relocated to a primary school, but in a joint letter to parents last week, the principals of both schools confirmed similar symptoms had returned in a number of students and staff.

“Some concerns remain in relation to potential exposure to mould spores … and any remnants at the new high school site,” they said.

A forensic clean of the demountable buildings begun on Friday.

a woman in glasses at a press conference

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the government is going above and beyond health advice by ordering a forensic clean.(

AAP: Joel Carrett

)

High school students were due to return to the campus today, but have been asked to stay away unless they have no suitable alternative.

The primary school buildings are unaffected.

Do it once, do it right

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said there had not been any health advice to suggest a forensic clean was necessary.

She said the clean had been ordered by the Department of Education in an attempt to prevent more people becoming sick, and an investigation into the problem had begun.

She apologised for the inconvenience and said the clean provided the best chance for the school community to return to normal.

“It’s important that we get this deep cleaning done and done well,” Ms Mitchell said.

Labor has previously criticised the minister for what it described as a delayed response when the issues emerged last year, a claim Ms Mitchell rejected.

Parents have told the ABC they were frustrated to find out about the school’s closure through a Facebook post, but the minister defended the use of social media as a communication tool.

“A lot of parents and families do look on Facebook and social media, it is a commonplace where messages can go out quickly to parents,” she said.

The NSW government is still considering whether to build a new high school for the town.

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A green sign at the front of Wee Waa High School in north west NSW, with trees and an awning in the background.

A green sign at the front of Wee Waa High School in north west NSW, with trees and an awning in the background.

Forensic clean at Wee Waa High School after more students, staff fall ill
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