Advice for families

Term 1 settings for 2022 were developed in close consultation with NSW Health.

For early childhood education and care information, please refer to the Guidelines for ECEC services.

Last updated 12:30 pm 27 January 2022

From the beginning of Term 1 2022, your child’s school will operate with a number of COVID-smart measures that have been developed with NSW Health to minimise transmission and keep schools open.

These key measures include:

  • use of rapid antigen tests by students and staff

  • ensuring all staff on school sites are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

  • wearing surgical masks indoors

  • using cohort arrangements

  • maximising ventilation

  • encouraging regular hand washing and continuing enhanced cleaning of schools

  • strictly limiting visitors on school sites

  • assessing high risk activities and applying appropriate safeguards

  • learning from home where face-to-face learning is not possible.

Testing

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) will be provided to all students and staff by their schools.

Before the start of Term 1, it is highly recommended all students undertake a RAT and confirm a negative result before attending school.

For the first 4 weeks of Term 1, we recommend students take a RAT twice a week on mornings before attending school.

  • If your child has even mild COVID-19 symptoms, get them tested with a RAT or PCR (nose and throat swab) test.

  • They must isolate until they receive a negative test result, in line with health protocols.

  • If symptoms continue, they should stay at home and take another RAT in 24 hours or have a PCR test. If the second RAT or initial PCR test result is negative, or another diagnosis is confirmed such as hay fever, they can return to school.

It is recommended that staff and students that return to school after recovering from COVID-19 do not participate in rapid antigen test surveillance for 28 days (four weeks after recovery) following release from self-isolation. This is due to NSW Health advice that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have a low risk of contracting it again in the following 28 days. After 28 days (from week five after recovery) staff and students may resume participation in RAT surveillance.

For positive COVID-19 cases

If there is a positive case in your child’s class, year or other grouping, your child can continue to attend school in line with NSW Health advice.

If a student or staff member receives a positive RAT test, they need to:

  • notify the school of the positive RAT or PCR test result as soon as possible

  • follow NSW Health advice to isolate for 7 days.

Negative results do not need to be reported to Service NSW or to the school.

Schools will inform their community when there is a positive case in the school and guide families on NSW Health advice, including monitoring for symptoms. Parents should expect regular communication with details of any impacted year groups or cohorts.

Vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection against severe illness and reduces the risk of spreading it to others. All staff on school sites are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and are expected to access their booster shot when they become eligible.

We strongly recommend all eligible students (and their families) who are 5 years and older get vaccinated. Once eligible all students and their families are encouraged to get booster shots. Booster shots are now available from three months after the second dose. Visit the Find a vaccine clinic website to book an appointment near you.

Masks

All primary and secondary school staff are required to wear surgical masks indoors.

Vented or cloth masks should NOT be worn. If required, surgical masks will be available at schools if required.

Secondary school students will be provided with surgical masks as a backup when needed, which they must wear when indoors.

Masks are also strongly encouraged in outdoor settings where you cannot physically distance.

Primary school students are strongly recommended to wear well-fitted masks indoors and in outdoor settings where you cannot physically distance.

Your child can remove their mask when: 

  • eating 

  • exercising 

  • playing a musical instrument. 

For more information, refer to Face mask rules in NSW.  

Cohorting

Keeping students in cohort groups where practical, will help minimise the potential for widespread transmission across the school.

Schools will continue using cohort arrangements, and may also consider staggered drop-off and pick-ups, break times, playground and canteen access.

Cohorts will be designed in a way that best meet the needs of the students and the school. Depending on the size and nature of the school, your child’s cohort might be their class, their year or their stage.

Ventilation

Fresh air is the most effective form of ventilation to minimise risk of transmission. Where there no natural ventilation, schools will use mechanical ventilation to maximise fresh airflow in learning spaces. Using outdoor spaces will continue to be encouraged.

Hygiene and cleaning 

Students and staff are encouraged to wash or sanitise their hands regularly.

Schools will continue to use enhanced cleaning processes. Target areas include high-touch areas, hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and areas where students and staff move through regularly.

Visitors on school grounds

No parents, carers or visitors will be allowed on school sites until further notice with the following exceptions:

  • Up to two parents or carers are allowed to accompany their child into school on their first day of Kindergarten or Year 7 or students starting at a new school.

  • Fully vaccinated essential non-school-based staff members, volunteers and third-party providers may visit a school to support school operations (such as canteen or uniform shop), curriculum delivery and wellbeing. This includes allied health services, SRE/SEE and VSA providers, music and sports tutors, and curriculum-based incursion facilitators or educators.

Activities

Guidelines will be provided to schools on how to assess activities with a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and apply appropriate safeguards.

Parents will be made aware of those risks and will need to give their permission for participation in extra-curricular, out-of-school hours or off-site activities.

Learning from home

Where face-to-face learning is not possible, learning from home options will be supported for short periods.

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