Response protocols for COVID-19 cases

A report by the National Centre for Immunization Research and Surveillance into the transmission of COVID-19 within NSW schools has found the spread of COVID-19 within NSW Schools has been very limited. Access the full COVID-19 in schools report.

Where there is a case of COVID-19 in the school community, the department has established systems and protocols with NSW Health to manage and respond accordingly to keep our staff and students safe.

Response protocols for confirmed cases of COVID-19

The department has protocols in place where it is notified by NSW Health immediately when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 is a school-age student or a member of staff. In addition schools and workplaces are required to notify all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the department’s internal incident reporting hotline.

All confirmed cases are immediately assessed by the department and NSW Health to determine whether the student, staff or school community member has been infectious while at school, and to determine the appropriate course of action required to minimise the risk to the wider community.

Key actions include:

  • Contact tracing to identify all close contacts to a confirmed case. In some instances, this may require closing the school while the contact tracing process is completed
  • Communication with parents advising them whether their child has been in close contact with a confirmed case
  • Thorough cleaning of the school site to ensure the environment is clean and safe prior to the school resuming onsite learning.

Contact tracing

Parents will be notified via a phone call and formally in writing if their child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 while at school. Students will be required to remain in home isolation and not return to school for 14 days from the last possible contact. In this situation, the school will arrange for the student to receive their learning programs at home.

A 'casual contact' is someone who has been at the school or workplace at the time the confirmed case was onsite but has not had close contact with the confirmed case. Where a child is not deemed a close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community, parents will be advised to monitor for symptoms and seek treatment if appropriate. In these situations, students and staff are not required to self-isolate and can continue to attend school and engage in their normal activities within the community.

All families will receive a formal letter from the school to advise what to do if they have been at school on a day when the confirmed case was considered to be infectious.

School operations

Parents and students will be notified when a decision is made to make the school non-operational for onsite attendance to enable the contact tracing process to take place and/or to have the school site thoroughly cleaned. Information about the operational status of the school will be disseminated using the school's information channels, including the Schools Notification App, Facebook page and the department’s website.

During this period, educational material will be made available through the department remote learning hub to enable students to continue learning at home.

Parents and students will be notified by the department when the school is ready to resume onsite learning.

Safety and hygiene

The department is continuing to work closely with NSW Health and other related Australian Government agencies to ensure the best possible precautions are in place to protect students and staff in our public schools.

Schools have comprehensive infection control and first aid arrangements in place and are well practised in implementing practical strategies and standard precautions to prevent the spread of disease in our schools.

Good personal hygiene, including regular hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting and the use of personal protective equipment are vigorously applied across all schools.

Where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, specialist cleaning will be carried out at the school site in accordance with NSW Health protocols before the school resumes operations again.

Further information

Find further information about the department’s response to COVID-19.

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