An education minister in Tasmania in Australia has been criticized on Thursday, Feb. 3, by the opposition parties for taking a vacation in France and contracting COVID-19 as the school season that she is responsible for commences without her.

Sarah Courtney, who has been on holiday in France for several weeks, missed the presentation of her back-to-school program in Tasmania after she reportedly contracted COVID-19 during her trip and is in isolation until at least Sunday, ABC News reported.

“I would hope that she would be here before the school year starts on the 9th,” Premier Peter Gutwein said about the minister. “Her seven-day isolation period will end on Sunday morning, I think, European time, then she will fly back.”

In Courtney’s absence, Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff had been doing Courtney’s job as Education Minister, which includes unveiling a plan that gives each child at least two rapid antigen tests to be distributed starting Monday, according to The Islander.

Due to a shortage of teachers and workers, some staff in the Education Department were asked to consider not taking their leaves while Minister Courtney was away on vacation, as well as asking retired teachers if they could help fill in the ranks in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Many are criticizing Courtney and Gutwein for the vacation debacle, especially as 656 new infections were recorded on Thursday, and as it wasn’t known if the school system could take the pressure from the COVID-19 cases.

“We're going to see our school staff under immense pressure next week, particularly when COVID arrives in their schools, and it's vitally important that we have a minister available to deal with the issues as they arise,” Josh Willie, Labour Education spokesperson, said.

“Ms. Courtney will never regain her credibility as minister. It is in tatters and she should resign when she recovers and returns from her overseas jaunt,” Cassy O’Connor said.

The Education Minister to the Australian Island State of Tasmania has been criticized on Thursday for her vacation in France, which might make her miss the opening of schools in her state. This is a representational image. Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash.

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