Level 3 schools

From 12:01 am 11 September, the following regional LGAs will move out of the stay-at-home rules: Armidale Regional, Ballina, Balranald, Bellingen, Berrigan, Bland, Byron, Carrathool, Clarence Valley, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coolamon, Coonamble, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional, Cowra, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume Shire, Griffith, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Hay, Inverell, Junee, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lachlan, Leeton, Liverpool Plains, Lockhart, MidCoast, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Nambucca, Narrandera, Oberon, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional, Temora, Tenterfield, Tweed, Upper Lachlan Shire, Uralla, Wagga Wagga, Walcha, Warren, Warrumbungle Shire, Weddin, Wentworth.

From 1 pm Thursday 16 September, the following regional LGAs moved out of stay-at-home rules: Bega Valley, Blayney, Bogan, Cabonne, Dungog, Forbes, Muswellbrook, Narrabri, Parkes, Singleton, Snowy Monaro Regional and Upper Hunter Shire.

Schools in these areas are now operating under Level 3. Other regional schools remain under Level 4.

Last updated 6 pm 17 September 2021

All students are expected to be at school unless they have even the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms.

Under the current health orders, there is nothing to restrict students and staff who must attend school from moving between two areas with different levels of restrictions. Students and staff should reduce traveling to geographical areas with higher levels of COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Students and staff can continue to travel to and from school as per the public health advice.

A reminder for all families

Students must not attend work or school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms must be sent home and not return to school unless:

  • they have isolated for 10 days, when no medical certificate is available
  • they have a negative COVID-19 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. Find your local testing clinics.

Vulnerable staff and students 

Schools should continue to support vulnerable staff and student cohorts, with vulnerable staff supported to work from home. 

In line with current health advice, the following persons are considered vulnerable: 

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 with one or more chronic medical conditions

  • people aged 65 years or older with chronic medical conditions  

  • people aged 70 years or older 

  • people with a compromised immune system. 

Cyber safe families

Refer families to the following resources to support their children in being responsible online users:

  • Digital citizenship – a collection of articles and resources to maximise students’ use of technology.

Masks/face coverings

Updated 4 pm 10 September 2021

While at school, masks or face coverings are required for:

  • all students in Year 7 and above in indoors and outdoors settings
  • all staff in indoor and outdoor settings.

It is also mandatory for all staff and students to carry a mask with them at all times – in playgrounds and on school grounds. This includes adults in all Early Childhood Education and Care settings, including when caring for and educating children.

Some exemptions apply:

  • Staff are not required to wear a mask or face covering where it may affect the ability of a student or students to hear or engage with them, such as where students are hard of hearing.  
  • Staff and students are not required to wear a mask where they are alone in an office or classroom.
  • Masks or face coverings are not required to be worn by a staff member or student who has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable. For example, if they have a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, they are not required to wear a mask. Refer to Face mask rules on the NSW Government website.

Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 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. 

Visitors

Non-essential visitors are not permitted in schools. Some visitors are permitted in schools based on the guidelines that follow.

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding changes to drop off and pick up including staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if safe to do so.

Parents should:  

  • maintain physical distancing by avoiding gathering outside of school gates
  • remain outside of school grounds (note some exceptions may apply regarding schools for specific purposes, vulnerable students or students with disability)
  • follow mask-wearing requirements and sign in using the Service NSW QR code when entering the school.

QR code sign-in process for all staff and visitors

The NSW Government have introduced mandatory QR codes across a range of additional settings, including schools. All staff and visitors permitted on school sites will be required to check in and check out using the QR codes.

Parents and carers or other visitors to the school who do not have access to electronic devices for the purposes of QR check in can:

  • authorise another person to provide their contact details on their behalf
  • provide their details to the school to be recorded in an appropriate manner for provision to NSW Health should it be required. In these circumstances, please enter any paper records into an electronic format such as a spreadsheet within 12 hours to support NSW Health contact tracing should it be required
  • use their QR code check-in card which can be created at Create a COVID-19 check-in card.

What is permitted during school hours or within schools under these restrictions

Schools can continue to operate:

  • Canteens where appropriate hygiene measures are in place
  • Early childhood services (OSHC, vacation care, preschools etc.)
  • Secondary College of Languages (formerly known as Saturday School of Languages).

Workers supporting the infrastructure development and maintenance of schools can continue on site. This includes contractors, general assistants, farm hands and other grounds support staff.

Allied Health partners and non-school staff that are unable to deliver critical services remotely.

What is permitted with modification

School based activities

  • Dance and/or drama are permitted in-line with COVID-Safe practices within classes in outdoor spaces. Mixing of classes is not permitted (except for HSC assessment purposes with COVID Safe practices in place)
  • Schools must make alternative arrangements for graduations, formals and school dances that support the broader guidance. This includes:
    • No mingling of student cohorts
    • No visitors (including parents and carers)
    • Events to align with current health order restricting size of gatherings
    • COVID Safe planning.
  • Personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping practices must be adhered to at these events.
  • Library activities are permitted in-line with the Infection Control requirement for Libraries.
  • Uniform Stores can only operate if they:
    • are online
    • have pre-ordering arrangements in place, with one dedicated staff member attending outside of school hours to arrange distribution.

Practicum teachers and professional experience placement (including VET, TAFE, trade schools)

Updated 5:55 pm 15 September 2021

  • Department schools who choose to accommodate professional experience placements will only support final year and penultimate year pre-service teachers.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools.
  • Schools should provide face-to-face learning opportunities for pre-service teachers where possible and mixed delivery learning opportunities where face-to-face is not possible.
  • VET work placements could resume wherever possible inline with Public Health Orders. Some industries where vaccinations are mandated my decline to take a placement student unless that student is fully vaccinated. NESA have advised that students who cannot complete their VET work placement due to COVID-related impacts will still be eligible for the HSC. Any placements must be subject to appropriate risk assessments and confirmed with Executive Director, Skills and Higher Education.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virutually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as their training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • Some school-based apprenticeships and traineeships training can recommence with conditions. Refer to the Training Services website for more information.
  • White card training is permitted. Delivery can be online; however, providers must conduct courses in real-time.
  • Work experience should be deferred.

Activities that are not permitted or on hold during school hours or within school grounds

Schools must cease the following activities:

  • Singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs (except for HSC preparation and assessment purposes as outlined above)
  • Sport (except for sport within existing PDHPE classes, provided this limits student mingling)
  • Bands and ensembles
  • Emergency drills. Drills should be put on hold until further notice
  • Interschool activities and events including interschool sport, gala days, trials, knock outs and carnivals
  • SRE/SEE/VSA
  • Community Language Schools
  • Assemblies
  • School performances, productions, concerts, speech nights and award presentations
  • Excursions, camps, field trips and principal-endorsed activities for students
  • International excursions
  • Student visits to aged care facilities.

School orientation programs are to be postponed until further notice.

Compliance training (e.g. First aid/CPR) is to be conducted online until further notice.

Trade Schools, VET and TAFE courses

  • VET work placements should be deferred wherever possible. NESA have advised that students who cannot complete their VET work placement due to COVID-related impacts will still be eligible for the HSC. Any placements must be subject to appropriate risk assessments and confirmed with Executive Director, Skills and Higher Education.
  • White card training is permitted. Delivery can be online; however, providers must conduct course in real-time.

Community activities

  • Community events (fetes, grandparents’ days etc.)
  • Playgroups
  • P&C activities, including meetings (unless held online only)
  • All external providers and specialist programs not directly related to educational outcomes and support, including Community Use of School Facilities (such as markets and all after school activities) unless delivered online only
  • Community Language Schools
  • School holiday programs (noting that vacation care programs on school sites may continue).

Exams 

Updated 10am 9 August 2021

Schools must implement COVID-Safe arrangements for exams to minimise mingling between students.  

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

For more information, refer to HSC exam advice.

Teachers, students and parents can also contact the NESA COVID-19 support team on 1300 138 323 or covid19support@nesa.nsw.edu.au or visit educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/covid-19-advice

The Opportunity Class Placement Test has been rescheduled to Wednesday 6 October 2021. This is due to the increased health and safety risks which prevent large groups of external students mixing and mingling with local school students. In mid-September 2021 you will receive your child’s ‘Test authority’ advice which will confirm where your child will sit the test.

Boarding schools  

Boarding Schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines. Further advice, developed with NSW Health, has been issued to boarding schools.

Preschools managed by the department

Families should follow normal sign in/out procedures and COVID safe guidelines when dropping off and picking up. Preschools should consider procedures to support pick up and drop off from the school gates. Where this is not possible or unsafe, families should pick up from the entrance of the preschool, following COVID-safe guidelines.

Masks are required for all staff working in Early Childhood Education and Care settings operating under level 3 restrictions (including indoor and outdoor environments).

For more information, refer to Early childhood education and care.

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