Level 3 schools

Schools in areas where short-term stay-at-home orders had been in place under a snap lockdown will return all cohorts to on-site learning under Level 3 settings from 11 October subject to ongoing NSW Health advice.

Applies to regional NSW schools in the following LGAs: Albury, Armidale, Ballina, Balranald, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Berrigan, Bland, Blayney, Bogan, Brewarrina, Byron, Cabonne, Carrathool, Clarence Valley, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coolamon, Coonamble, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional, Cowra, Dungog, Edward River, Federation, Forbes Severn, Gilgandra, Glen Innes, Greater Hume Shire, Griffith, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Hay, Hilltops, Inverell, Junee, Kempsey, Kyogle Lachlan, Leeton, Liverpool Plains, Lockhart, Mid-Coast, Mid-Western Regional, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Muswellbrook, Nambucca, Narrabri, Narrandera, Narromine, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Singleton, Snowy-Monaro Regional, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional, Temora, Tenterfield, Tweed, Upper Hunter Shire, Upper Lachlan Shire, Uralla, Wagga Wagga, Walcha, Walgett, Warren, Warrumbungle Shire, Weddin, Wentworth and Yass Valley.

While at school, face masks are required in all indoor and outdoor settings for all staff. Masks are required indoors for students Year 7 and above and recommended outdoors (unless eating or exercising). Masks are recommended indoors and outdoors for primary students (unless eating or exercising).

All staff in schools operating at Level 3 must be fully vaccinated before 8 November in line with Public Health Order

Last updated 5:15 pm 15 October 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.

COVID-19 response protocols

Updated 5:15 pm 15 October 2021

The department is continuing to work closely with NSW Health and other relevant agencies when a positive COVID-19 case is identified to have an impact on schools.

Please refer to the COVID-19 response protocols for more information.

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

Last updated 8:50 am 15 October 2021

NSW Health advice requires that all staff must wear a face mask or covering at all times when indoors – this includes in playgrounds and elsewhere on school grounds. This includes adults in all early childhood education and care settings, including when caring for and educating children.

While on schools sites masks are required indoors for all staff and all students Year 7 and above. Masks are strongly recommended indoors for primary students.

Mask supplies are a back-up for schools. Staff and students should bring their own mask where possible.

Some exemptions apply. Refer to the NSW Government face mask rules.

Masks remain 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.


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

Updated 9 am 13 October 2021

  • 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. Schools can plan for these events to be held on or after 3 December.
  • 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.
  • Emergency drills and evacuations where possible should be conducted in a COVID-safe manner. This means where possible keeping classes, groups or cohorts together.

Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements (including VET, TAFE, trade schools)

Updated 5:30 pm 12 October 2021

  • Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements are required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November. Principals should ensure all placements meet these requirements.
  • Department schools are encouraged to accommodate placements for final year pre-service teachers while under Level 3 plus settings and above restrictions. Schools may consider accommodating penultimate year pre-service teachers when they are on Level 3 settings.
  • 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 in line with Public Health Orders. Some industries where vaccinations are mandated may decline to take a placement student unless that student is fully vaccinated. NESA has 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 approvals.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • School based apprenticeship and traineeship training should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • In areas where lockdown has been lifted, School based apprentices and trainees (SBATs) may undertake employment as long as their employment complies with COVID-Safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • White card training to school students should only be conducted via face-to-face delivery.
  • 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
  • Interschool activities and events including interschool sport, gala days, trials, knock outs and carnivals
  • 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.

Kindergarten and Year 7 transition and orientation programs will be virtual for schools doing a staged return.

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

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).


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

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.

Schools operating under Level 3 settings

Download the list of Schools operating under Level 3 settings as of 11 October 2021 (PDF 231 KB) or use the search function below to confirm if your school is operating under this setting. Please check the Level 3 plus page if your school does not appear on this list.

Please note that the list may contain schools that are made temporarily non-operational due to a positive COVID-19 case impacting school or a local emergency such as floods or sewerage issues. Your school will contact you through their usual communication channels when this occurs.

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The following schools are under Level 3 restrictions:

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