Advice for families

Updated 18 June 2021

We're working closely with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), NSW Health and other agencies to ensure our schools continue to operate in the safest ways possible in the COVID-19 environment.

Updated advice from Health NSW

NSW Health has been advised of venues of concern, associated with the confirmed cases of COVID-19, in regional NSW (1 June to 5 June) and in Greater Sydney (13 June to 17 June).

Families should regularly check the NSW Government COVID-19 news and updates for the venues and locations and adhere to advice where required.

NSW Health has advised that masks will be mandatory on public transport from 4pm today until 12.01am Thursday 24 June, 2021 for people in the Sydney and Blue Mountains (excluding the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra) areas.

This applies to students aged 12 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.

Masks are also strongly encouraged in all public indoor venues, such as retail, theatre, hospitals and aged care facilities.

People in these areas are also asked to avoid non-essential visits to aged care and disability facilities, but if visiting, wear a mask and limit visits to two people per day.

Interstate arrangements

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

Please note that there are no changes for staff and students who are crossing the NSW/VIC border to work and learn.

There may be some disruption for students and staff crossing the NSW/SA and NSW/QLD borders if they have been to a ‘hotspot’ in NSW, as announced on 17 June 2021.

For detailed advice on Queensland border restrictions that come into effect from 1am Saturday 19 June please visit - Travelling to Queensland.

For detailed advice on South Australia border restrictions please visit South Australian – Travel Restrictions.

Vaccination advice

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout is currently progressing through its identified phases. Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination is listed on the Australian Government website. This includes people over 50 years of age. NSW residents aged 40–49 years not listed as part of phase 1a or 1b can now register their interest to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Further information on the phased COVID-19 vaccination rollout is available on the NSW Government website.

A reminder for all schools and families

It is important that schools and families continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines outlined on this page. In particular we wish to highlight the following:

  • Students should not attend school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and should not return until they have received a negative test result and are symptom-free. In circumstances where children have other medical reasons for recurrent symptoms a letter from their GP is sufficient to negate the requirement for a negative test.
  • Anyone who is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms is strongly encouraged to get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received. Locations of testing clinics are available via the NSW government website.
  • Schools must continue to implement:
    • Personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping practices.
    • Where possible to use outdoor areas weather permitting or large open spaces to enable adequate physical distancing.
    • All visitors to a school site must be well and symptom free, comply with sign-in arrangements, and the 1.5m physical distancing requirements.
  • Visitors to schools should maintain 1.5m distance from other people where practicable. Avoid congestion of groups of visitors in specific areas where possible.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes acknowledging that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers each time they visit. Visitors must also check in using the Service NSW QR code. Parents and carers who are dropping off or picking up students do not need to sign in or use the Service NSW QR code.

Schools are operating full time while actively following health advice

Schools continue to be safe, and operations are in line with Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and NSW Health advice. All students should be learning on campus unless they are unwell or have a medical certificate to support their absence.

Activities permitted at school will be conducted in a way that is safe and appropriate in the current environment. Activities that remain on hold will be reviewed at regular intervals and will recommence when appropriate based on health and other relevant advice.

COVID Safe Check-in

From Term 1 2021, all NSW public schools use the Service NSW COVID Safe Check-in.

Look for the COVID Safe QR code posters when you enter your child’s school. Be sure to sign in at the school administration building according to your school’s visitor guidelines.

Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW

Students are reminded to remain vigilant and practise physical distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff are maintained.

Check the latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW and follow the recommended actions if you have been in a location where there may have been exposure to COVID-19. We encourage members of the community to monitor this site. Please follow the relevant health advice if you have been at any of the locations at the specified dates and times.

The locations along with the times and dates of identified cases can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website. There are more than 350 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.

School attendance

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.

In accordance with advice from NSW Health, parents and carers are reminded NOT to send children to school if they are unwell, even if they have the mildest flu-like symptoms.

NSW Health has requested that schools encourage anyone who is unwell or has even mild flu-like symptoms, to arrange to be tested through their local medical practitioner or one of the COVID-19 clinics.

Students and staff with flu-like symptoms need to be tested and provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result and be symptom-free before being permitted to return to school.

Students who do not undertake a COVID-19 test will not be permitted to return to school for a 10-day period. Additionally, they must be symptom-free for at least 3 days prior to returning to school.

Students who have seasonal allergic rhinitis or another condition that presents similarly to flu-like symptoms are still required to get tested for COVID-19 and return a negative test result. Where their symptoms continue beyond 10 days, students should provide documentation from their GP confirming their symptoms are typical for their condition. If the student develops new or changed symptoms, they should get tested for COVID-19. Find more information about COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 testing for students with complex health or disability may be challenging. In these situations, schools will ask the parent or carer to have their child assessed by their medical practitioner. Where a medical practitioner determines that a COVID-19 test is not required, documentation must be provided to the school to confirm that the student does not have symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test. The certificate must also indicate that the student is able to return to school.

All schools will be vigilant when implementing infection control, physical distancing and personal hygiene protocols to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Schools will promote the need to follow good hygiene practices such as:

  • regularly washing hands.
  • avoiding sharing drinks or food.
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or a tissue which should be discarded immediately.

Students will be supported to learn from home in the following circumstances:

  • If they are required to self-isolate due to being a close contact of a positive or suspected COVID-19 case.
  • Where the school is directed under public health advice to only remain operational for children of essential workers if an outbreak of COVID-19 was to arise in the local area.

Wearing face masks and temperature screening

Staff, students and school visitors are not required to wear a face mask while at school. Anyone who wishes to wear their own masks in schools will not be prevented from doing so.

NSW Health has advised that masks will be mandatory on public transport from 4pm today until 12.01am Thursday 24 June, 2021 for people in the Sydney and Blue Mountains (excluding the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra) areas.

This applies to students aged 12 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.

Widespread temperature screening is not required or recommended in schools.

School activities and school site usage

What’s changed

The following activities have been updated:

  • Parents, carers and relatives are welcome in our schools.
  • There are no limits for singing groups or in-class educational activities such as group repetition, chanting or recitation.
  • P&C meetings and events are permitted in a COVID-safe way.
  • Dancing activities, including dance classes, balls and social events, can proceed in a COVID-safe way.
  • School sporting activity requirements, whether indoors or outdoors, are aligned with those in place for other community sporting competitions and training activities in NSW.

Continue reading for further information.

All schools may adopt the following changes:

  • Parents, carers and relatives may enter the school to drop off and pick up students in accordance with local school COVID-safe arrangements.
  • P&C meetings and other gatherings of parents and/or community members for school events (such as working bees) can proceed. All participants must continue to comply with the gathering limits prescribed by the Public Health Orders. Physical distancing and hygiene measures should be applied where practicable.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes the requirement to sign the school sign-in sheet where they acknowledge that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers each time they visit. Visitors must also check in using the Service NSW QR code.
  • Community use operators need to sign the Community use acknowledgement form when operating in NSW schools.
  • Schools can welcome parents, carers and relatives to attend school sporting events and activities, whether indoors or outdoors, in line with the requirements in place for other community sporting competitions and training activities in NSW.
  • Students are able to mix together across year groups or other cohorts for all school related activities.
  • School orientation programs can continue.
  • There are no recommended limits on the number of performers in singing groups, including for in-class educational activities such as group repetition, chanting, recitation, or singing activities.
  • Musical groups including bands and ensembles are permitted. Students and staff must comply with the Safe Health Practices infection control requirements.
  • Interstate field trips, excursions and camps can continue where interstate border requirements permit.
  • Schools in the border regions can continue to engage in swimming and other activities using venues in other states or territories where border requirements permit.

School activities and school site usage without change

Schools will apply the following guidelines to adhere to NSW Health advice:

  • Interschool activities can continue to take place.
  • External providers delivering educational services can proceed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
  • Activities involving musical instruments can proceed.

Activities on hold

The following events will continue to be reconsidered. For now, these events must remain on hold.

  • International excursions (cancelled until further notice).
  • 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.

School events including performances, productions, plays and other social activities

School performances, productions, plays, concerts and other events can continue. These events must comply with the department’s guidelines and NSW Health requirements for COVID safe events.

Schools must have in place and comply with the relevant COVID-19 Safety Plan when planning and conducting these events. The following considerations for schools apply:

  • Ensure that all attendees, including students, staff and visitors, parents and carers, are well and free of any flu-like symptoms.
  • Special guests such as the Local Member of Parliament and videographer or photographer may attend events.
  • Events held on school sites will need to limit guests based on the relevant square metre rules. Schools will need to invite guests based on the total number of people (this includes staff, students, parents & carers or visitors) who are able to be accommodated.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes the requirement to sign the school sign-in sheet where they acknowledge that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers each time they visit. Visitors must also check in using the Service NSW QR code.
  • The school is required to maintain a record of names and contact details for all attendees including school staff and visitors for at least 28 days after the event. This record must only be used for the purposes of contact tracing for COVID-19 infections and be stored confidentially and securely.
  • When holding events at external venues, all external venues and providers must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure health and safety measures are in place.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing of students in schools is not required.

All teachers, support staff and parents should maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m) where practicable.

Parents are encouraged to physically distance from one another and staff during school pick-up and drop-off times where practicable.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools must adhere to the same COVID-19 requirements that all NSW schools follow. In addition:

  • Students residing at a boarding school can mix with other students without restriction while in residential areas of the school
  • Boarding students may continue to attend local gyms, boxing, water polo and other events in the community after school hours.
  • Parents or carers may continue to take students off school grounds for activities to spend time with them.
  • Orientation for boarders may continue as arranged by the school including an opportunity for students to stay in the boarding house.

Border restrictions

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

Please note that there are no changes for staff and students who are crossing the NSW/VIC border to work and learn.

There may be some disruption for students and staff crossing the NSW/SA and NSW/QLD borders if they have been to a ‘hotspot’ in NSW, as announced on 17 June 2021.

For detailed advice on Queensland border restrictions that come into effect from 1am Saturday 19 June please visit - Travelling to Queensland.

For detailed advice on South Australia border restrictions please visit South Australian – Travel Restrictions.

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.

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.

Schools will continue to provide hygiene products including liquid soap, hand sanitiser, paper towels, surface spray and disinfectant wipes.

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. Read more about our Response protocols for COVID-19 cases.

Transport

Bus services to and from schools continue to operate as normal. For travel advice to and from school, refer to Transport for NSW.

NSW Health has advised that masks will be mandatory on public transport from 4pm today until 12.01am Thursday 24 June, 2021 for people in the Sydney and Blue Mountains (excluding the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra) areas.

This applies to students aged 12 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.

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