Advice for families
Updated 8 December 2020
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 during the COVID-19 environment.
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.
The activities that are 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.
Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW
Check the Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW and follow the recommended actions if you have been in a location where there have been confirmed cases of 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 when the cases were identified can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website.
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 will 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 result 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.
Schools are not required to conduct widespread temperature screening or mandate the wearing of a mask.
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.
All students and staff who reside in or have visited Victoria must have a permit to enter NSW and are required to comply with health restrictions relevant to their permit which may include the need to complete the 14 day self-isolation period commencing the last day they were in Victoria.
School activities and school site usage
The following activities have been updated:
- Schools can now turn on water fountains and bubblers for students to use.
- Schools in the border regions can recommence swimming and other activities using venues in other states.
- P&C meetings can have a maximum of 30 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
- Outdoors singing and carols events can proceed.
- Field trips, excursions and overnight camps to ACT, Victoria and Queensland can recommence.
- Orientation programs for department preschools.
Continue reading for further information.
The following activities can recommence from 7 December 2020
- School-based outdoor activities that involve parents and members of the community, such as working bees, can proceed with up to 100 people about to participate.
- NSW Health advised that communal water fountains and/or bubblers in NSW schools can now be turned on. These facilities can remain operational, closing only if there is transmission of COVID-19 in the community. Students are still encouraged to bring water bottles from home.
The following activities can continue in Term 4
- Field trips, excursions and camps to the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
- Department preschool orientations for Term 4. See Preschool orientation 2020-21 for further information.
- Schools in the border regions can recommence swimming and other activities using venues in other states. Schools will need to:
- Have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place in addition to a risk management plan.
- Keep records of students and staff attending the activities.
- Practicums for both teaching and non-teaching students including university supervisors.
- Undergraduate education researchers with a COVID-19 Safety Plan from the university representative.
- Year 7 transition to high school in Term 4.
- School planned end-of-year events can proceed in a COVID-safe way while adhering to relevant COVID-19 Safety Plans.
- P&C meetings may occur on the school sites with executives and invited guests. These meetings must occur outside of school hours and are limited to a maximum of 30 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Physical distancing and hygiene measures must be adhered to at all times. All attendees must sign the visitor acknowledgement form upon arrival. P&C or other community social events or functions, fundraisers, fetes and barbecues are not permitted in Term 4.
- Singing and carols events can proceed. Up to 50 performers can sing indoors. There is no limit on the number of performers singing outdoors. The audience may participate in singing with all those over the age of 12 required to wear a mask. Schools must comply with these restrictions in addition to the department’s end-of-year school and community activities guidelines.
School activities and school site usage without change:
NSW Health has published updated advice for schools as we commence Term 4. Schools will apply the following are guidelines to adhere to NSW Health advice:
- Where possible, students will stay within their relevant cohort group (i.e. class, year group, or stage) for all learning activities within their school in order to limit close contacts to the relevant student cohort.
- Interschool activities can continue to take place.
- Kindergarten orientation can commence in Term 4. See the orientation and transition advice for further information.
- External providers delivering educational services can proceed during Term 4 2020 with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
- Singing and musical activities must adhere to the Department’s guidelines for singing, musical activities and creative arts consistent with NSW Health advice for group singing and musical ensemble.
- All singing, chanting, rapping and group activities must take place in large, well-ventilated settings. Outdoor settings are preferred.
- During solo and group singing, chanting and rapping events, singers must maintain a distance of 5 metres between themselves and any person they are facing, including staff, students and audience members.
- All singers are to be positioned 1.5 metres apart while next to each other. This includes choirs.
- Group singing, chanting and rapping are limited to a maximum of 50 singers/rappers indoors. There is no limit on the number of singers/rappers when performing outdoors.
- Instructors, teachers and adult support persons must maintain a distance of 1.5 metres on the side of the performers and not within 5 metres in front of them during the rehearsals and performance.
- In a primary school and preschool setting, in-class educational activities such as group repetition, chanting, recitation, or singing activities are permitted provided these activities take place outdoors or in large, well-ventilated settings.
- Activities involving musical instruments can proceed. Students playing non-reeded woodwind instruments such as flutes and recorders should be positioned so that they can maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from all persons (including other members of the musical group). They must also maintain a minimum 3 metres space between the direction of airflow from their instruments and other performers.
- Singing and band rehearsals and performances should take place outside or in well ventilated indoor spaces.
Visiting NSW Schools
Parents and carers are not allowed on school sites or at off site school events held during school hours except for the following purposes only:
- essential parent and carer meetings with teachers and/or school executives
- parents and carers who attend a school administration building or another defined location for the purpose of picking up their child if they are unwell or where they have been asked to arrange for a COVID-19 test after their child has displayed flu-like symptoms while at school
- parents and carers who need to be on-site for canteen and uniform shop duties or to collect or purchase uniforms
- parent or carer volunteers required as educational support roles for activities that are essential to the delivery of the curriculum such as reading groups, music, dance and kitchen garden areas. Schools are required to have scheduled programs in place and remind parents and carers that they must not attend school unless it has been previously arranged
- to attend special end-of-year events at the invitation of the school provided that these events can be hosted while maintaining a COVID-safe environment such as:
- Graduations, award ceremonies and other presentation events
- School performances, plays, productions and concerts
- parents or carers of boarding school students who would like to collect students for local activities.
Activities on hold
The following events will continue to be reconsidered in Term 4. For now, these events must remain on hold.
- International excursions (cancelled until further notice)
- School activities that involve large gatherings of parent and community members for indoor events.
- Parent and carer attendance at assemblies and other school activities unless it’s an end-of-year school event as specified above and the venue can cater for the 2 square metre distancing rule.
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.
Formals, graduations and end-of-year activities
School Formals can proceed for all year groups. All events must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for School Formals in place.
Non-school organised formals
Many school formals are organised by students and/or parents and are hosted outside of the school site. Organisers will need to follow NSW Health and department advice which includes:
- School staff are not to attend.
- The organisers will need to comply with the School formal COVID-19 Safety Plan and comply with the requirements within the plan specified for the event.
- The organisers must ensure that the venue has a COVID-19 Safety Plan and that they follow their plan which may include limits to the number of attendees and catering requirements.
- Schools will not promote or sanction social activities organised by others and where a COVID-19 Safety Plan has not been followed.
School organised formals
Schools have guidelines in place for school organised formals which include the requirement of a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
Students and their parents and carers need to be aware of the following for school organised formals:
- Attendance is limited to the student cohort and supervising staff only.
- If the venue has the capacity, the school can decide to allow the attendance of external visitors such as partners, DJs, and photographers. The school will need to consider and follow the current safety guidelines which includes:
- signing in with an external visitors form
- ensuring the venue has the capacity to maintain the 4 square metre rule for each attendee.
- Alcohol is not permitted.
- Maximum of 30 attendees per table.
- Students and/or guests will not be allowed to congregate or crowd in groups including when arriving or leaving the event.
- Dance floors are allowed and should be held outside if possible. If a dance floor is indoors, ensure it is well ventilated. Additional advice includes:
- Dancing with partners from outside the school community is allowed only if partners are from the same local community and have an established relationship and normally socialises with the student cohort.
- There must be sufficient room for 1.5 metres physical distancing.
Graduation and award ceremonies, speech nights and other presentation events
Schools can plan for graduation and award ceremonies, speech nights and other presentation events provided they follow the department’s guidelines and have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
Graduations and award ceremonies within the school
Students and their parents and carers will need to be aware that graduation and award ceremonies will be conducted in accordance with a COVID-19 Safety Plan for graduation ceremonies to ensure a COVID-Safe environment for all attendees. Requirements include:
- Guests will be invited based on the total number of people (this includes staff, students, parents & carer or visitors) who are able to be accommodated under the 2 square metre rule.
- Maintain a record of names and contact details for all attendees including school staff and contractors for at least 28 days after the event. This record will only be used for the purposes of contact tracing for COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.
- All attendees including students, staff and guests attending are well and free of any flu-like symptoms.
- For seating arrangements, the school will need to:
- Ensure there is enough space for distancing of 1.5 metres between non-household members.
- Seated tables will be limited to a maximum of 30 attendees per table.
- Attendees will need to remain seated as much as possible to minimise mingling outside of non-household groups or close friend groups.
- Singing and musical activities at the event must adhere to the Department’s guidelines for singing, musical activities and creative arts consistent with NSW Health advice for group singing and musical ensemble.
- Students will need to bring their own pens if they wish to sign yearbooks or other items.
- External visitors will not be allowed access to areas outside of the designated event venue and should leave promptly at the conclusion of the event.
- For graduations and award ceremonies held outside of the school site, the organisers will need to ensure they follow the venue’s COVID-19 Safety Plan along with NSW Health advice of the day.
- Catering arrangements will comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements where appropriate.
Graduations and award ceremonies outside of the school site
For graduations held outside of the school site, the organisers will need to ensure they follow the venue’s COVID-19 Safety Plan along with NSW Health advice of the day.
End-of-year school performances, productions, plays and concerts
End-of-year school performances, productions, plays and concerts can proceed.
Schools must have in place and comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan for Cinema, theatres, concert halls, drive in cinemas when planning and conducting these events. The following considerations for schools apply:
- Ensure that all attendees, including students, staff and visitors, including parents and carers, are well and free of any flu-like symptoms.
- When holding an event on school sites, schools must comply with the 2 square metre rule for all people participating. Schools will need to invite guests based on the total number of people (this includes staff, students, parents & carer or visitors) who are able to be accommodated under the 2 square metre rule.
- For seating arrangements ensure there is enough space for distancing of 1.5 metres between non-household members.
- Ensure people remain seated as much as possible to minimise mingling outside of household or close friend groups.
- Catering arrangements will comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements where appropriate.
- Special guests such as the Local Member of Parliament, one videographer or photographer may attend events. Special guests must be kept to a minimum and be included in the maximum number of participants for the 2 square metre rule.
- Singing and musical activities at the event must adhere to the department’s guidelines for singing, musical activities and creative arts consistent with NSW Health advice for group singing and musical ensemble.
- Ensure all visitors sign the external visitors form.
- Schools are 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. If possible, create and maintain a record of the seating plan to support contact tracing.
- External visitors should not be allowed access to areas outside of the designated event venue and should leave promptly at the conclusion of the event.
- 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.
Other end of year events
Schools can proceed and plan for end of year performances, productions, plays and concerts provided they comply with the department’s guidelines and NSW Health requirements for COVID-safe events.
Virtual celebrations toolkit
Schools will also have the option to have online gatherings through the Virtual Celebrations Toolkit. This toolkit has been developed to support schools in planning events and celebrations that do not require all participants, including parents and carers to be on the school site. These events can be planned now.
Schools will also have the option and are encouraged to live-stream these events held within the school to selected families and friends as a way of sharing their major milestone.
Opportunity Class test update
Opportunity class testings for 2021 were rescheduled to 18 November 2020. Refer to the OC updates page for the latest information.
Physical distancing of students in schools is not required under the AHPPC guidelines.
All teachers, support staff and parents must maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m).
Parents should ensure school pick up and drop off arrangements enable them to physically distance from one another and from staff.
NSW-Victoria border reopening
The NSW and Victoria reopened at 12.01am 23 November 2020. Visit the NSW Government website for more information.
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.
Your school has received supplies of soap, hand sanitiser, toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant wipes and personal protective equipment. The school is able to order more as needed.
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.
Standard packs of hygiene products continue to be dispatched to schools. The packs include liquid soap, hand sanitiser, paper towels, surface spray, disinfectant wipes. Quantities are calculated on the number of habitable spaces at each school. Schools can continue to request supplies through the School Supplies email address.
Reporting and assessment
You will receive your child’s semester 2 report before the end Term 4 2020 as part of the regular reporting process.
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.
NSW boarding schools have recommenced the following activities:
- Introduce weekly boarders back into schools.
- Allow boarding students to attend local gyms, boxing and water polo and other events in the community after school hours.
- Allow parents to take students out to dinner during the week to restaurants.
- Hold orientation for new boarders which may include an opportunity for them to stay in the boarding house.
Bus services to and from schools are scheduled to run as normal. For travel advice to and from school, refer to Transport for NSW.