Preparing classrooms for students return

In a mammoth undertaking, department staff are ensuring schools are well ventilated and safe for the return to face-to-face learning.

13 September 2021
A row of desks with the waratah symbol on top.

As students and staff are preparing for a return to face-to-face learning in NSW public schools next month, the NSW Government is ensuring that all schools are safe, clean and secure.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said the Department of Education was carrying out a systematic review of all learning spaces, including libraries and halls, to ensure all schools continued to operate in the safest ways possible.

“We are working with our schools to develop their specific return-to-school plans and implement the relevant on-site restrictions; while this occurs we are also making sure each room is suitable for students’ return,” Ms Mitchell said.

The review will focus on ventilation in classrooms and also provide support to schools to adapt lessons to make full use of school facilities including outdoor learning areas.

“Most NSW public schools have openable windows. The review will ensure that all windows operate efficiently allowing natural ventilation, and that ceiling fans and air conditioning systems are operating effectively and serviced regularly,” Ms Mitchell said.

Schools with air conditioning systems are also being checked to ensure they are fully operational, and the frequency of filter servicing and cleaning will be increased.

“This is a mammoth task, as we have 2,200 schools in the public system with more than 50,000 learning spaces,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The health of students and staff has always been our priority and parents should feel confident their child’s school is well equipped to keep them as safe as possible.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have made significant increases in the cleaning of schools and distributed large quantities of additional hygiene and safety supplies, including face masks, hand sanitiser and surface wipes.

“Advice and supplies will continue to be provided to principals to support ventilation, personal hygiene, school activities, mask wearing and cleaning to ensure they can operate their school in a COVID-safe way.”

The review is informed by the expertise of NSW Health and latest research including the NCIRS report: COVID-19 Delta variant in schools and early childhood education.

Find out more about the return to school on our advice page.

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