Return of SRE/SEE

Updated 9 March 2021

Advice regarding the return of voluntary student activities of a religious nature in schools (VSA)

VSA volunteers are permitted on school sites and must operate in a COVID-safe way. The advice for SRE/SEE below is applicable to VSA.

Providers of VSA should ensure their volunteers understand the guidelines before they contact schools to negotiate the return of VSA.

VSA occurs under the supervision and auspices of the principal. Principals will make the decision if VSA will recommence at their school.

Advice regarding special religious education (SRE) and special education in ethics (SEE)

SRE/SEE volunteers are permitted on school sites and must continue to operate in a COVID-safe way.

SRE/SEE classes are to be held for no longer than one hour. Classes should take place in a suitably sized room or outdoors. There is currently no limit on class sizes.

There are no limits on the number of SRE/SEE teachers per class and observers/helpers are permitted to return. All teachers, support staff and parents must maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m).

Singing and/or chanting activities can recommence. During solo and group singing, chanting and rapping events, a distance of 5 metres between themselves and any person they are facing, including staff, students and audience members is to be maintained, where practicable.

Approved providers of SRE/SEE are not required to have a COVID-19 safety plan to enter schools. SRE/SEE teachers should deliver SRE/SEE as efficiently and safely as possible.

Responsibilities of approved providers

Providers need to ensure all SRE/SEE teachers:

Providers should:

  • have a plan in place if SRE/SEE teachers are unavailable to attend a school due to cold/flu-like symptom. Any SRE/SEE teacher that develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19, even if mild, must not attend school and should be tested for COVID-19.
  • provide a revised authorisation letter (optional template available) to the school for any new SRE/SEE teacher, including casual/relief teachers, ensuring they have a working with children check clearance and have completed initial training.
  • have arrangements in place within their own organisation to determine if a person can continue to work if they are at risk of developing severe illness in accordance with Health advice.

Responsibilities of schools

Schools must ensure that SRE/SEE teachers sign the school sign-in sheet (PDF 289KB) where they acknowledge that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers (112KB) each time they visit. Schools will expect the provider to have a plan to advise in advance when a teacher will be absent and know who will replace the teacher to minimise disruption to the school. Schools also need to have a plan in place if SRE/SEE teachers are unavailable to attend a school due to cold/flu-like symptoms.

Schools are not required to assess if a person meets the vulnerable category under NSW Health advice for SRE/SEE as this is the responsibility of the approved provider through their own processes.

If any SRE/SEE classes are not able to resume, schools may consider the following options in consultation with approved providers of SRE/SEE:

  • If there are no SRE/SEE teachers from any approved provider for a year/stage, that year/stage can continue normal classwork while the other years/stages participate in SRE/SEE.
  • If an SRE/SEE teacher is not available from a particular approved provider but there are teachers from other approved providers
    • students without an SRE/SEE teacher remain with their classroom teacher and complete alternative meaningful activities
    • the approved providers learning from home lessons are not to be used in the absence of an SRE/SEE teacher
    • schools negotiate the combination of classes from the same approved provider if the content is age-appropriate
    • schools negotiate the temporary change to the timing of SRE/SEE, for example, split SRE/SEE time for different stages.
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