• Secretary's update

Update on operations of NSW public schools

23 March 2020

The Secretary, Mark Scott, has provided advice to all school staff on education arrangements until the school holidays.

The situation with COVID-19 continues to develop and I wanted to confirm with all of you directly what will be happening through this week. I want to thank each and every one of you for our commitment to your students and our critical work through these exceptional times.

This message is intentionally short and hopefully clear on where we are at right now. We will update information on our intranet and provide further information to schools and communities throughout the day.

Schools remain open

The health advice on schools is unchanged.

It is safe for our schools to be open and continue to operate.

We have seen attendance rates fall significantly over the last week and we expect that trend to continue. The decision of an increasing number of families electing to keep their children at home would have made it exceptionally difficult for teachers to run regular classes while meeting needs of learners off-campus.

Parents are being supported in their choice to keep their children at home and we believe an increasing number of parents will choose to do so.

It is vital that our doors remain open for those parents who cannot make that choice. Those parents who work in our health system, education system, emergency services and other essential workers need to be able to access suitable supervision of their child?s learning on school sites. We recognise too that there are some high needs children for whom school is a better and safer option.

There may also be occasions where students will need to attend school, even if they are studying at home: like completing a major work project for the HSC, or possibly collecting and delivering back study materials.

Schools continue to operate but with much fewer students who are receiving supervision as they complete units of work, not traditional classroom experiences.

Supporting continuity of learning for all students

School teams have been working hard to develop learning options for students to undertake from home should that become necessary. At the Department level, we have developed and continue to develop resources to help teachers with this task.

In the event of students or teachers required to be off-campus, teachers will be supported to teach online through a virtual platform, or materials and packages of materials provided to students electronically or in hard copy. Explore our learning from home resources.

School leadership teams can seek support from the department, via their Director Educational Leadership, if schools need further support.

If the current advice from NSW Health continues, schools will reopen for Term 2 after the Easter break. This model of teaching delivery may continue in Term 2 if necessary.

At-risk staff

Any staff who identifies as at additional risk from COVID-19 by NSW Health or who are pregnant are not required to attend work on-site from tomorrow. These staff must be supported to work from home.

Supporting our staff

The department has established virtual staffrooms for each KLA and K-6. These staffrooms will enable you to connect with colleagues, share resources and information.

We are updating the staff information pages on the intranet and will be providing further information to schools and communities throughout the day.

Further advice for our public service staff in corporate offices will be provided today.

Mark Scott

About the Secretary

Mark Scott is Secretary of the Department of Education. He has worked as a teacher, in public administration and as a journalist and media executive. He is committed to public education and learning environments where every child can flourish.

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