Removing disruptions for schools and families

School closures due to positive COVID cases will be minimised under new settings announced by the NSW Government.

A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image. A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image.

Close contacts of COVID cases at schools and outside school hours care services will be able to return to school instead of needing to isolate as a result of changes in school COVID settings announced yesterday by the NSW Government.

An ‘education close contact’ means that students who are exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 within the school/care service can return to school following a negative PCR and through the use of rapid antigen home testing for 7 days.

These changes are about getting students back into the classroom and to face-to-face learning for the remainder of the year.

Close contacts from household and community exposures to a positive case of COVID-19 will still be required to isolate in line with NSW Health requirements.

The changes were made following recent Doherty Institute and NSW Health advice, and will take effect from Monday, 29 November.

In line with community settings, schools will no longer need to close while contact tracing occurs due to successful cohorting of year groups on school sites. The only exception may be if there are multiple cases at a school or complex settings in place.

NSW Health has also advised that schools do not need to close for deep environmental cleans as the enhanced cleaning in place at schools is sufficient.

Mask settings remain the same, meaning they are required for all staff and high school students, and are recommended for primary school students.

Further restrictions on music have also been lifted, with instruments that rely on breath and singing and chanting allowed to go ahead outdoors, within cohorts, and in line with other COVID-safe school settings from Monday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the changes gave parents the confidence that schools would no longer be closing and their children would not be required to isolate at home.

“The people of NSW have worked hard to get to this point, and the government made a commitment that whenever possible we would reduce the disruption to schools,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Schools have managed the pandemic extremely well, I want to thank all staff for the way they have conducted themselves and the efforts they have made to reduce the impacts of COVID on their students.”

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said parents and students were keen to see less disruption in schools.

“I’m delighted we can reduce the disruption for students and families, while still maintaining the safety measures for students and staff on school sites,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Students already in isolation can return to school from Monday under this new approach.”

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