Advice for families

COVID-smart school settings reflect NSW Health's latest COVID-19 guidelines and the department’s management of COVID-19 within educational settings.

For early childhood education and care information, please refer to the  Guidelines for ECEC services.

COVID-smart measures in schools

COVID-19 is still active in the community. While COVID-19 remains an unpredictable virus, NSW Health advise it will continue to present a health risk to the community.

Schools continue to implement baseline COVID-smart measures to help reduce the risk of transmission for students and staff members. These key COVID-smart measures include:

  • staying home until you are well
  • following NSW Health Advice for people exposed to COVID-19
  • strongly encouraging staff, students and families stay up to date with vaccinations (including COVID-19 boosters, when eligible)
  • practicing good hygiene including regular hand washing
  • maintaining natural ventilation
  • recommending staff and visitors wear a mask when working with students at greater risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19, regardless of school type, particularly indoors and when physical distancing is not possible
  • assessing risk and applying appropriate safeguards across activities and events.

In certain circumstances, the Department of Education may recommend your school reintroduce additional COVID-smart measures. Your principal will work with Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing and provide further details of any changes to COVID-smart measures at your school if required. These temporary measures may include:

  • ceasing large indoor gatherings
  • ceasing off-site and inter-school activities
  • cancelling or postponing overnight activities and excursions, including school camps
  • recommending mask wearing for adults and high school students and encouraging for primary aged students
  • limiting visitors to schools
  • separating cohorts of students
  • learning remotely.

Staying home and testing when sick

Students and staff should stay home when sick.

Students, staff and visitors should only attend school when feeling well and symptom-free. Follow NSW Health advice on Testing and what to do if you have COVID-19.

Parents and carers of children with persistent or ongoing COVID-19 symptoms should discuss these with their local health care professional. These symptoms may be related to other illnesses (such as allergies or hay fever) and benefit from treatment and management by a doctor.

From the start of 2024, rapid antigen tests (RAT) are no longer available free of charge to schools. NSW Health recommend Testing for COVID-19 if you have symptoms and are at higher risk of serious illness.

Parents and carers should confirm boarders have no COVID-19 symptoms before returning to school. Boarders may also use rapid antigen tests before their return where available.

All families should have a plan in place with the school to support their child if they are symptomatic and/or test positive.

For positive COVID-19 cases

If there is a positive case in your child’s class, year or other grouping, your child can continue to attend school in line with NSW Health advice.

Schools routinely inform their community of known positive cases and share NSW Health advice, including monitoring for symptoms.


COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection against severe illness and reduces the risk of hospitalisation The department strongly recommend all staff remain up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Students and staff are strongly encouraged to maintain up-to-date vaccinations for their own personal health and to keep their school community safe.

There are no vaccination requirements for NSW Department of Education sites. However, staff working in schools within hospitals and youth justice centres must follow any vaccination requirements of NSW Health and Department of Communities and Justice respectively.

Parents and carers unsure whether their child has missed any vaccinations should speak with their GP.


Masks are an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses and infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

We recommend staff, volunteers and workers supporting our students at greater risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19 wear masks, whether in schools for specific purposes (SSPs), support units or mainstream classrooms.

Explore NSW Health Guidance on wearing face masks.


Fresh air is the most effective form of ventilation to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Schools will use mechanical ventilation to maximise fresh airflow in spaces with limited natural ventilation. Using outdoor spaces is also encouraged.

With the possibility of low air quality due to smoke in the warmer months, the department has advised schools to follow the advice of relevant authorities, depending on their specific environmental circumstances.

Learn more about School Infrastructure NSW’s Asset review and ventilation.

Hygiene and cleaning 

Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands regularly.

Professional cleaning services conduct a daily comprehensive clean at all schools.

Community use of school sites

Community use of school sites, including community languages schools and parents and citizens (P&C) association activities, can occur with a community use agreement. The school should minimise interaction between the community users and school students and staff. Community use of school sites should use outdoor spaces and be held after hours where possible.

Community users are encouraged to follow the department's COVID-smart measures and NSW Health guidelines.

Specific activities

Schools have advice on how to assess activities with a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and apply appropriate safeguards.

This includes applying layered COVID-smart measures when planning activities such as assemblies, presentations and end-of-year celebrations like formals and graduations.

Parents and carers will be made aware of those risks and asked to give permission for participation in extra-curricular, out-of-school hours or off-site activities.

Learning from home

Where face-to-face learning is not possible, learning from home will be supported for short periods.

Wellbeing support

It’s important to look after your and your child’s wellbeing and talk to a trusted adult if you or someone around you needs support. Find support for Mental health.


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