Advice for families

Restrictions on certain activities apply to schools throughout NSW.

Last updated at 8:30 am 24 September 2021

We have worked closely with NSW Health to develop a framework for COVID-safe school operations.

Roadmap to return to face-to-face learning

Updated 1 pm 20 September 2021

Schools will return to face-to-face learning either through a ‘staged return’ or ‘full return’, depending on NSW Health conditions in their area.

Full return (Level 3)

Areas across NSW that are removed from stay-at-home rules will return to school under Level 3 settings. This is a full return for all cohorts to schools, with reduced mingling and on-site activities.

Schools returning through the full return model should refer to the Level 3 guidance for schools.

Staged return (Level 3 plus)

When stay-at-home rules are still in place but other community vaccination and transmission conditions are met, students will return to school in a staged way. This is a staggered return for prioritised cohorts, with no mingling or on-site activities.

Students will return to face-to-face learning with NSW Health-approved COVID-safe settings on school sites in the following order:

  • from 25 October – Kindergarten and Year 1
  • from 1 November – Years 2, 6 and 11
  • from 8 November – Years 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Students in Year 12 and those completing their HSC are already able to return in a limited way and this will continue for the remainder of Term 3. From 25 October, these students will have full-time access to school campuses and their teachers.

Conditions and guidelines to support schools with a staged return are detailed below.

Areas of concern

Local government areas (LGAs) and suburbs of concern operating under Level 4 plus restrictions will continue learning from home until they are removed from the areas of concern.

Levels of restrictions

Depending on local conditions, schools will operate under one of the following levels of restrictions:

  • Level 4 plus: Minimal students and staff on-site; learning from home, parents must keep children at home, schools are open for families who need it
    • While on school sites, masks or face coverings are required for all staff, and all students in Year 7 and above.
    • Applies to schools in the following local government areas (LGAs) of concern: Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, select suburbs within the Penrith LGA, Strathfield.
  • Level 4: Learning from home; parents must keep children at home, schools are open for families who need it
    • While in indoor settings in schools, masks or face coverings are required for all staff, and all students in Year 7 and above.
    • Applies to all schools in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) until 12:01 am 30 September.
    • Applies to regional NSW schools in the following LGAs: Bathurst, Bourke, Broken Hill, Byron, Central Coast, Central Darling, Cessnock, Cowra, Dubbo, Eurobodalla, Goulburn, Hilltops, Mulwarre, Kempsey, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Maitland, Mid-Western, Narromine, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Tweed, Walgett, Wingecarribee and Yass Valley.
  • Level 3 plus: Staggered return of students to face-to-face learning for areas under a stay-at-home rule.
    • Priority to return to face-to-face learning will be for students in Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 as well as those completing their HSC.
    • While at school, face masks are required in all indoor and outdoor settings for all staff, and all students in Year 7 and above. Masks are strongly recommended for primary students.
  • Level 3: COVID-safe; further restrictions on activities and non-essential visitors
    • While at school, face masks are required in all indoor and outdoor settings for all staff, and all students in Year 7 and above.
    • Applies to regional NSW schools in the following LGAs: Albury, Armidale Regional, Ballina, Balranald, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Berrigan, Bland, Blayney, Bogan, Brewarrina, Cabonne, Carrathool, Clarence Valley, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coolamon, Coonamble, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional, Dungog, Edward River, Federation, Forbes, Gilgandra, Glen Innes, Greater Hume Shire, Griffith, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Hay, Inverell, Junee, Kyogle, Lachlan, Leeton, Lismore, Liverpool Plains, Lockhart, MidCoast, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Muswellbrook, Nambucca, Narrabri, Narrandera, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Singleton, Snowy Monaro Regional, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional, Temora, Tenterfield, Upper Hunter, Upper Lachlan Shire, Uralla, Wagga Wagga, Walcha, Warren, Warrumbungle Shire, Weddin, Wentworth, Yass Valley.
  • Level 2: COVID-safe; restrictions on activities and non-essential visitors
    • While in indoor settings in schools, masks or face coverings are recommended for all staff, and all students in Year 7 and above.
    • No NSW public schools are currently operating at this level.
  • Level 1: School operating in a COVID-safe way
    • Staff and students are supported to wear a mask or face covering should they choose to do so.
    • No NSW public schools are currently operating at this level.

Updated advice for families

Last updated at 8:30 am 24 September 2021

The NSW Premier announced that stay-at-home rules have ended for the following regional NSW LGAs: Albury, Armidale Regional, Ballina, Balranald, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Berrigan, Bland, Blayney, Bogan, Brewarrina, Cabonne, Carrathool, Clarence Valley, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coolamon, Coonamble, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional, Dungog, Edward River, Federation, Forbes, Gilgandra, Glen Innes Severn, Greater Hume Shire, Griffith, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Hay, Inverell, Junee, Kyogle, Lachlan, Leeton, Lismore, Liverpool Plains, Lockhart, MidCoast, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Muswellbrook, Nambucca, Narrabri, Narrandera, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Singleton, Snowy Monaro Regional, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional, Temora, Tenterfield, Upper Lachlan Shire, Upper Hunter Shire, Uralla, Wagga Wagga, Walcha, Warren, Warrumbungle Shire, Weddin, Wentworth, Yass Valley.

Stay-at-home rules will remain in place for the following regional NSW LGAs: Bathurst, Bourke, Broken Hill, Byron, Central Coast, Central Darling, Cessnock, Cowra, Dubbo, Eurobodalla, Goulburn, Hilltops, Mulwarre, Kempsey, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Maitland, Mid-Western, Narromine, Newcastle, Orange, Port Stephens, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Tweed, Walgett and Wingecarribee.

In addition stay-at-home rules apply to all schools in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) until at least 12:01 am 30 September.

Following updated health advice from the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant about the growing risk to the community, stay-at-home rules will apply to all people who live in these areas.

Parents and carers in these LGAs must keep children – across primary and secondary school – at home unless they need to be at school. Schools (including outside of school hours care) are open for any child that needs it.

Early childhood education and care services – including family day care residences and venues – may continue to operate.

For specific advice on early childhood education, refer to COVID-19 and early childhood education and care.

All families are encouraged to discuss the changes with their schools if needed.

All families are encouraged to monitor the NSW Government’s latest COVID-19 news and updates for locations where there may have been exposure to COVID-19 and adhere to the advice as appropriate.

NSW Health regularly updates its advice.

We will provide additional updates as the current situation evolves.

Student vaccinations

Updated 8:30 am 24 September 2021

Students are eligible for a prioritised vaccine if they are 16 or above and either:

  • have a permanent home address in one of the LGAs of concern.

  • enrolled to sit one or more Higher School Certificate subjects (or otherwise completing Year 12 in 2021, including Year 12 TAFE) at a school located in one of the LGAs of concern.

For more information about vaccinations for HSC students in LGAs of concern, refer to HSC student vaccinations within identified LGAs.

Students with underlying medical conditions are currently eligible to receive a Pfizer vaccine at NSW clinics across the state. Bookings can be made via the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

Students aged 12 and above are now also eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. Parents and carers can book in a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine now.

Vaccination appointments are available at more than 3,000 locations across NSW, including GPs and pharmacies. More appointments will become available as supply increases, so keep checking for new appointments in coming weeks.

Bookings can be made through Vaccines Clinic Finder (healthdirect.gov.au).

For information about vaccine consent for parents and guardians, visit NSW Health Factsheet Template Plain.

In the event that a vaccination program is implemented for primary-school-aged children in NSW public schools, informed consent will be sought from the child’s parents or carers before any vaccine is administered.

Parents and carers may wish to discuss options for vaccination with their GP in the event their child becomes eligible for a vaccination in NSW.

For students and families who have questions or concerns related to getting vaccinated, refer to NSW Health's Know the facts COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet (PDF 307KB).

Exams

HSC exam advice

NESA has announced a number of changes to the 2021 HSC timetables.

For more information, refer to HSC exam advice.

Opportunity Class Placement Test delayed

As a result of the most recent advice from NSW Health regarding the duration of COVID-19 restrictions and the return to school plan, the Opportunity Class Placement Test scheduled for 6 October 2021 has been delayed.

New testing arrangements for students will be announced as soon as possible.

2022 selective high school placement assessment scores

Due to COVID 19 restrictions in 2021, primary schools will not be required to provide school assessment scores for the 2022 selective high school placement process for Year 7 entry in 2023.

Primary school principals will continue the usual process of confirming information entered by parents in their applications and by adding relevant information on student background, disability and reasonable adjustments.

A more detailed update will be provided in Term 4, 2021.

Information for applicants is also available through our High Performing Students website.

Wellbeing for students and families

Refer to our Wellbeing for students and families page for a range of mental health and wellbeing resources.

Travelling between areas with a stay-at-home order

Updated 8:50 am 13 September 2021

Some regional NSW local government areas will operate under Level 3 settings from Monday 13 September 2021. This means that schools in these LGAs are open for all students to return to face-to-face learning. Please note:

  • Students who live in a Level 4 regional NSW area should continue to learn from home if possible. Travelling to school for education is considered a reasonable excuse therefore students can travel to school into a Level 3 area.

  • Students living in regional NSW without a stay-at-home order (Level 3) can travel to schools in areas that are under a stay-at-home rule (Level 4) if it is necessary and they are not able to learn from home.

  • Students who live in a Level 3 area can travel across Level 4 LGAs to their school in a Level 3 area if this is required. They should avoid stopping over in the Level 4 area if possible. If stopping is absolutely required such as refuelling, they should wear a mask or face covering.

  • Any student from a Level 3 area who travels into a Level 4 area will need to follow NSW Health advice. Refer to NSW Government for more information.

From Monday 19 July, all public transport services within Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) will run to a reduced timetable. School services may be impacted. For further information to help you plan transportation refer to Transport NSW COVID-19 safer travel guidance.

Facilitating attendance at school (where the student cannot learn from home) or to attend early childhood education is a reasonable excuse to enter an LGA with a stay-at-home rule under the Public Health Order.

Facilitating arrangements for access to, and contact between parents and children or siblings is also a reasonable excuse to enter Greater Sydney or a regional LGA with a stay-at-home rule in place under the Public Health Order.

At all times, please continue to:

  • closely monitor for symptoms for COVID-19 and immediately get tested should you have the mildest of symptoms, regardless of where you live or attend school. If you get tested for COVID-19 because you have symptoms or if you have been directed by NSW Health to do so, you must isolate at home until receiving your test result

  • refer to the NSW Government list of case locations and act on the guidance from NSW Health if you have been to any of these venues.

Travel between state and territory borders

Updated 12:20 pm 2 September 2021

Students and staff in border communities can continue to attend NSW schools at this time, except for the following reasons:

  • They must remain at home if they are unwell, even with the mildest of symptoms. If they are unwell they must receive a negative COVID test and be symptom-free before returning to school.
  • If they have been to a venue of concern they must comply with the self-isolation and testing requirements as directed by the relevant Health Department.

All students and staff that cannot attend school or work due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.

There may be some disruption for students and staff crossing interstate borders if they have been to a ‘hotspot’ in NSW.

Students and staff from ACT

The ACT has entered into a seven-day lockdown from 5.00pm today, 12 August 2021. There are arrangements in place for NSW/ACT border residents. Staff who live in the NSW/ACT border in one of the approved postcodes are able to attend work for an approved essential reason under the lockdown restrictions, which includes school-based staff. NSW/ACT border residents are required to carry identification at all times to provide proof of residency.

Students who are residents of the ACT can only attend school if they are children of essential workers, vulnerable or need to perform essential activities that must be undertaken under supervision (eg. Year 12 critical examinations).

If an ACT resident is required to travel outside of the border region, they will be required to quarantine and follow the advice available on the COVID-19 website.

Any staff and students who have visited a NSW COVID-19 affected area seeking to enter the ACT are required to compete the online exemption form within 72 hours prior to arriving in the ACT and are required to enter quarantine immediately for 14 days or until advised by ACT Health. Exemptions may be granted to ACT residents, further advice should be sought through ACT Government.

All students and staff that cannot attend NSW schools for work and education due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home. Further information is available on the ACT website.

Students and staff who have visited ACT

If anyone in NSW has been to the ACT on or after 12.01am Thursday 5 August 2021, you must follow the stay at home rules for 14 days since you were last there and can only leave home with a reasonable excuse.

Staff and students who have visited the ACT since this time can continue to attend NSW schools for work and education as a reasonable excuse.

If you enter NSW on or after 5pm on Thursday 12 August 2021 and you have been in the ACT in the previous 14 days, you must complete the NSW entry declaration form within the 24 Hour period before you enter NSW or on entry. You are required to complete a declaration form once every 72 hours. For more information, please visit the NSW interstate travellers page.

Students and staff from Victoria

The border bubble remains in effect between NSW and Victoria.

Staff and students living and working in the border bubble can continue to attend NSW schools for work and education, with education being a permitted reason.

Staff and students who live in the cross border community aged 18 years and over must obtain a Cross border community – Extreme Risk Permit to enter Victoria for permitted reasons. Border community residents applying for a Cross border community – Extreme Risk Permit are reminded to check the application conditions and need to re-apply for a permit every 14 days. Children and teenagers under 18 years of age are exempt from this requirement , but they can only travel across the border for permitted reasons.

From 11.59pm Thursday 2 September 2021, six Victorian local government areas (LGAs) including Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, City of Benalla, Buloke, Loddon, Yarriambiack and two NSW LGAs - Broken Hill and Edward River - will no longer be included in the NSW/VIC cross border community. This means residents in those LGAs will no longer be eligible for a Cross-border Extreme Risk Zone permit to enter Victoria or return from NSW.

The City of Wagga Wagga, Hay Shire Council, Lockhart Shire Council and Murrumbidgee Council continue to no longer be included in the cross border bubble.

All students and staff that cannot attend NSW schools for work and education due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.

Students and staff who live in or around the NSW/Victoria border should seek further advice through the NSW Government and Victorian Government COVID-19 websites.

Students and staff from Queensland

Updated 5:15 pm 10 September 2021

From 1 am Monday 13 September 2021, travel for essential work and essential purposes, between Queensland and most Local Government Areas (Tweed, Ballina, Byron, Moree Plains, Gwydir, Clarence Valley, Inverell, Glen Innes Severn Shire, Tenterfield, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Lismore) in the New South Wales border zone, will be allowed*.

Students and staff who are Queensland residents will be able to attend work and school in NSW Schools.

Staff crossing the border for essential work will need to have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as per Queensland requirements.

Anyone entering Queensland from these areas must not have been in another locked down NSW LGA or have been in contact with someone who has been there in the past 14 days.

Residents in the LGAs of Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, and the Unincorporated Far West and all other areas of NSW will remain subject to the current restrictions.

It is important to note that Queensland residents who go outside of the NSW border zone in NSW (or any other COVID-19 hotspot, will not be able to re-enter Queensland via road and will have to quarantine for 14 days in government arranged accommodation at your own expense when you come home by air.

All students and staff that cannot attend NSW schools for work and education due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.

Students and staff who live in or around the NSW–Queensland border should seek further advice through the NSW interstate travellers and Queensland Government COVID-19 website

Please note, this initial advice may change subject to the release of the Queensland Public Health Order.

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