A guide to NSW school students returning to face-to-face learning

Last updated at 8:50am, 12 June

In line with health advice, schools are operating full time, and many additional activities are now able to recommence.

All schools have returned to full-time on-campus learning. With updated health advice and changes to state and national restrictions, schools are able to recommence the majority of school-based activities from either 15 June 2020 or the start of Term 3 (20 July 2020). Some activities are continuing to be considered.

The following principles underpin these guidelines:

  • schools continue to be safe and operations are in line with Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and NSW Health guidelines
  • existing infection control protocols at schools, and new health and safety measures put in place will help maintain the health and safety of students and staff
  • all activities permitted at school are safe and appropriate in a living with COVID-19 environment.

School students do not need to follow strict adult physical distancing guidelines, but should follow good hygiene practices like:

  • regularly washing hands
  • avoiding sharing drinks or food
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or a tissue which should be discarded immediately
  • filling water bottles from bubblers rather than using the bubbler directly.

School attendance

All students should be at school unless:

  • they have a medical certificate which states that they are unable to return to school due to an ongoing medical condition and the expected timeframe
  • they are currently unwell.

School activities/school site usage

The majority of school-based activities can recommence, as long as the following measures are observed:

  • all visitors and external to school providers must adhere to relevant hygiene, distancing and safety protocols
  • principals may continue to restrict, limit or prohibit activities if they are seen as contrary to the current health advice
  • external providers and visitors are required to demonstrate compliance with health and safety requirements including adhering to strict guidelines and completing relevant forms
  • non-essential adults are still not permitted on school grounds or at school events – this includes parents/carers unless specifically approved by the principal.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing of children in schools is not required under the Australian HPPC guidelines. Research has shown limited transmission risk associated with school children in the school environment.

All adults must maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m) including teachers and support staff, and parents.

Schools should ensure school pick up and drop off arrangements enable parents to physically distance from one another and from staff.

School cleaning and hygiene supplies

Your school will continue to receive additional cleaning in line with the AHPPC guidelines and advice from NSW Health. Target areas include high-touch areas and other hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and movement areas. There will also be additional cleaning of toilets and bubblers and topping up of supplies like soap.

Your school has received supplies of soap, hand sanitiser, toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant wipes and personal protective equipment. The school is able to order more as needed.

Essential hygiene supplies

To support NSW schools during COVID-19 and help keep them safe, we've secured and dispatched a range of products including soap, hand sanitiser, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and personal protective equipment.

To date we have dispatched 3.13 million items to schools

So far we've dispatched to schools:

  • 149,100 rolls of toilet paper
  • 29,800 rolls paper towel
  • 24,000 bars of soap
  • 8,770 litres of hand wash
  • 226,300 litres of hand sanitiser
  • 154,600 litres of surface spray
  • 295,500 packets of disinfectant wipes

School activities return and timeline

Activities/site usage that can already take place:

  • Use the school library
  • Engage in non-contact sporting activities
  • Canteens and uniform shops can open at principal’s discretion
  • Year 11 and 12 students only may attend classes/activities relating to subjects only available on other campuses is allowed
  • VET work placement for Year 12 students is able to proceed from 1 June 2020. School based apprenticeships and traineeships can recommence once the relevant workplaces are back in operation
  • Trade Training Centres can operate on school sites

Activities/site usage that can take place from Monday 15 June 2020

  • School assemblies (limited to 15 minutes and no external visitors)
  • Choirs and performing arts at school, with safety protocols in place
  • Students may attend other schools for essential curriculum related reasons or placements (e.g. auditions or placement tests)
  • Hydrotherapy pools can be used
  • Incursions/external providers can provide activities that support delivery of curriculum (e.g. music tutors, sport skills development programs, science demonstrations, drama tutors, Healthy Harold).
  • Community use activities used by students such as dance classes, and student sport skills development, outside of school hours with limited adult attendance)
  • Day field trips to outdoor locations with no physical distancing requirements can take place (e.g. DoE Environmental Education Centres and sport and recreation facilities, trips to local river to collect water samples)
  • Face-to-face TAFE attendance (see TAFE website for further information)
  • School photos
  • Department of Community and Justice services and programs
  • Community use activities on weekends involving adult attendance (complying with relevant guidelines) not essential to continuity of education

Activities allowed from Saturday 4 July (Winter school holiday)

    • Community use activities involving general adult attendance (such as community markets).

    Activities/site usage that can take place from beginning of Term 3

    • All school sport and activities including competitions aligned with current health advice (including those activities run by external organisations)
    • Inter-school student events and competitions (choirs, sport , debating, public speaking, performing arts, Selective Sports High School trials etc)
    • SRE/SEE lessons
    • Work experience for students (with appropriate risk assessment)
    • VET work placements can proceed subject to the availability of placement and appropriate risk assessments. For any that can't proceed, please see the NESA website
    • School-based apprenticeships and traineeships can recommence once the relevant workplaces are back in operation
    • P&C meetings – with a strong preference for on-line where possible
    • Parent/teacher meetings – where these need to take place – strong preference for on-line where possible unless involving serious matters that require face to face discussion

    Activities under consideration from Term 3

    The following events will be reconsidered in Term 3. For now these events must remain on hold.

    • School camps
    • Excursions (other than field trips explained above)
    • Parent attendance at assemblies and other school events (e.g. graduation ceremonies or student speech events)
    • Parent volunteers – e.g. parent reading helpers (note: canteen and uniform shop volunteers are permitted)
    • Interstate excursions
    • School-based activities that involve large gathering of adults are not permitted at this time. These include parent/community gatherings such as parent functions, working bees, fundraisers, school BBQs, large parent information evenings, and large on-site cultural events. These large gatherings and the following activities will continue to be reviewed and assessed based on AHPPC and NSW Health advice and may be permitted at a later date.

    Activities that are cancelled, delayed or not permitted

    • Certain large arts and sports events are cancelled or delayed because they require feeder activities and have long-lead time organisational arrangements. Please speak to your schools if you would like to know more.
    • International excursions are cancelled until further notice.

    Reporting and assessment

    You will receive your child’s semester 1 report before the end of August (Week 6, Term 3).

    This will be a simplified version of the report you normally receive. Schools are encouraged to discuss your child’s progress with you before the written report is issued.

    Responding to COVID-19 cases

    There is a clear plan in place for schools to respond to any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We are working closely with NSW Health and will communicate with parents if a situation arises. Find out more at the response protocols page.


    For travel advice to and from school refer to the NSW public transport service.

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