NEWS | 8 July 2021

COVID-19 Information & Updates

Get up-to-date information and updates about Novel Coronavirus on the NSW Health website.

Diocesan Directors, RI & PJP Principals

If you are a Diocesan Director or RI & PJP Principal there are resources for School & System Leaders available through our COVID-19 Response Portal.
For instructions on how to log in please see this article.

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Level 3 schools


From 11 October stay-at-home orders are lifted across NSW. Schools in areas where short-term stay-at-home orders had been in place under a snap lockdown will return to face-to-face learning and teaching under Level 3 settings subject to health advice. All staff and students are expected to be at school with visitors and activities limited.

The following regional LGAs are operating at Level 3 from 11 October: Albury, Armidale, Ballina, Balranald, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Berrigan, Bland, Blayney, Bogan, Brewarrina, Byron, Cabonne, Carrathool, Central Darling, Clarence Valley, Cobar, Coffs Harbour, Coolamon, Coonamble, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional, Cowra, Dungog, Edward River, Federation, Forbes, Gilgandra, Glen Innes Severn, Greater Hume Shire, Griffith, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Hay, Hilltops, Inverell, Junee, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lachlan, Lismore, Leeton, Liverpool Plains, Lockhart, Mid-Coast, Mid-Western Regional, Moree Plains, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Muswellbrook, Nambucca, Narrabri, Narrandera, Narromine, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Richmond Valley, Singleton, Snowy-Monaro Regional, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional, Temora, Tenterfield, Tweed, Upper Hunter Shire, Upper Lachlan Shire, Uralla, Wagga Wagga, Walcha, Walgett, Warren, Warrumbungle Shire, Weddin, Wentworth, Yass Valley, and Unincorporated NSW areas.

All staff at Level 3 schools must be fully vaccinated by 8 November.

Updated 19 October 2021

Schools should restrict activities to established student groupings. This may be in class, grade or stage groupings dependent on the size and organisation of the school. Consideration is to be given, where practical, to physical distancing and limiting interactions between groups at entry and exit points, transitioning between classes and during recess and lunch breaks to reduce contact between student cohorts.

Students and staff can continue to travel to and from school as per the public health advice.

Students attending school

All students are expected to be at school unless they have even the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms.

Staff vaccinations

From 8 November, staff will be required to present evidence of 2 doses of vaccine. Vaccination will be mandatory for all school staff, and priority will be afforded to them in the rollout of vaccinations.

Student vaccinations

In the event that a vaccination program is implemented for primary-school-aged children in NSW schools, informed consent will be sought from the child’s parents or carers before any vaccine is administered.

Parents and carers may wish to discuss options for vaccination with their GP in the event their child becomes eligible for vaccination in NSW.

Vulnerable staff

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that staff are adequately supported to ensure continuity of student learning and school operations.

Masks and face coverings

Under Level 3, Level 3 plus and Level 4 settings masks are required indoors for staff and students in Year 7 and above. Masks are strongly recommended indoors for primary students.

It is also mandatory for all staff and students (over the age of 12) to carry a mask with them at all times.

Mask wearing requirements do not apply to the following staff and students:

  • children in early childhood services, pre-schools and early intervention classes
  • a student or staff member with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable including, for example, a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma. They must carry evidence of this and produce it to the police on request.

Staff and students required to wear masks may remove them when:

  • they are eating or drinking
  • engaging in strenuous physical exercise
  • they are communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • the nature of their work or learning:
    • makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to their own, or another person’s health and safety, or
    • means clear enunciation or visibility of the person’s mouth is essential,
  • because of an emergency.
  • when they are alone in an office or classroom.

Visitors

Non-essential visitors are not permitted on school sites including:

  • Official visitors and dignitaries
  • Media and production crews
  • Visits by local members.

Allied Health partners and other providers are permitted and should continue to operate in a COVID-safe way.

Union officers may visit.

Essential visitors supporting curriculum delivery, and student and staff wellbeing are allowed on school sites. All essential visitors are required to sign in using the school’s Service NSW QR code. School staff should consult with their principal in the first instance to establish if a visitor is essential or not.

Diocesan staff (unless as outlined in this document) must not attend school sites unless services cannot be provided remotely. Mask wearing, vaccination and COVID-safe check-in is required for all visitors.

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding changes to student drop off and pick up. This includes staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if it is safe to do so. This does not apply to drop off and pick up from outside of school hours care (OOSHC) as sign in and out procedures are required.

Parents should:

  • follow the physical distancing advice for their local area and avoid gathering outside of school gates
  • remain outside of school grounds (some exceptions may exist re SSP, vulnerable students or students with disability)
  • adhere to mask-wearing requirements and sign-in using the Service NSW QR code when entering the school.

Diocesan staff supporting schools

  • Services should be delivered online where possible, including any professional learning
  • Staff providing essential support for curriculum delivery, and student and staff wellbeing are permitted on site, including counsellors, Transition Support Teacher (Early Intervention) Assistant Principals Learning and Support, OOSHC teachers, Support Teachers Transition, Hearing and Vision sensory teams.
  • Diocesan staff supporting students and schools are able to visit multiple school sites under Level 3 in a day for example, Itinerant Support Teachers.
  • Executive Directors, Educational Leadership are permitted to conduct visits in person

Essential hygiene and PPE

Appropriate use of PPE (dependent on the task) is important and incorrect use can increase the risk of infection.

Cleaning

Current cleaning regimes will continue on school sites. Target areas include high-touch areas and other hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and movement areas. Enhanced cleaning is delivered as part of the daily cleaning of schools.

Ventilation

Open or well-ventilated spaces reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

What is permitted during school hours or within schools under these restrictions

Schools can continue to operate:

  • Canteens where appropriate hygiene measures are in place
    • Essential staff to support canteen operations are able to be on site under L3 and L3 plus – this includes those employed by commercial companies, schools or volunteering when under operation by a P&F.
  • Early childhood services (OSHC, vacation care, preschools etc.)

Workers supporting the infrastructure development and maintenance of schools can continue on site. This includes contractors, general assistants, farm hands and other grounds support staff.

Allied Health partners and non-school staff that are unable to deliver critical services remotely.

What is permitted with modification

School based activities

  • Dance and/or drama are permitted in-line with COVID-Safe practices within classes in outdoor spaces. Mixing of classes is not permitted (except for HSC assessment purposes with COVID Safe practices in place).
  • Schools must make alternative arrangements for graduations, formals and school dances that support the broader guidance. Schools can plan for these events to be held on or after 3 December. Additional guidelines for these events will be provided in the coming weeks.
  • Personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping practices must be adhered to at these events.
  • Library activities are permitted in-line with the Infection Control requirement for Libraries
  • Uniform Stores can only operate if they:
    • are online
    • have pre-ordering arrangements in place, with one dedicated staff member attending outside of school hours to arrange distribution.
  • Orientation and transition programs. Refer to local schools for more information.
  • Emergency drills and evacuations where possible should be conducted in a COVID-safe manner. This means where possible keeping classes, groups or cohorts together.

Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements (including VET, TAFE, trade schools)

  • Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements are required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November. Principals should ensure all placements meet these requirements.
  • Catholic schools are encouraged to accommodate placements for final year pre-service teachers while under Level 3 plus settings and above restrictions. Schools may consider accommodating penultimate year pre-service teachers when they are on Level 3 settings.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools.
  • Schools should provide face-to-face learning opportunities for pre-service teachers where possible and mixed delivery learning opportunities where face to face is not possible.
  • VET work placements could resume wherever possible in line with Public Health Orders. Some industries where vaccinations are mandated may decline to take a placement student unless that student is fully vaccinated. NESA has advised that students who cannot complete their VET work placement due to COVID-related impacts will still be eligible for the HSC. Any placements must be subject to appropriate risk assessments and approvals.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • School based apprenticeship and traineeship training should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • In areas where lockdown has been lifted, School based apprentices and trainees (SBATs) may undertake employment as long as their employment complies with COVID-Safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • The white card training to school students should only be conducted via face to face delivery.
  • Work experience should be deferred.

Activities that are not permitted or on hold during school hours or within school grounds

Schools must cease the following activities:

  • Singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs (except for HSC preparation and assessment purposes as outlined above)
  • Sport (except for sport within existing PDHPE classes, provided this limits student mingling)
  • Bands and ensembles
  • Interschool activities and events including interschool sport, gala days, trials, knock outs and carnivals
  • Assemblies
  • School performances, productions, concerts, speech nights and award presentations
  • Excursions, camps, field trips and principal-endorsed activities for students
  • International excursions
  • Student visits to aged care facilities.
  • Compliance training (e.g. First aid/CPR) is to be conducted online until further notice.

Community activities

  • Community events (fetes, grandparents’ days etc.)
  • Playgroups
  • P&F activities, including meetings (unless held online only)
  • All external providers and specialist programs not directly related to educational outcomes and support, including Community Use of School Facilities (such as markets and all after school activities) unless delivered online only
  • School holiday programs (noting that vacation care programs on school sites may continue).

Excursions

Last updated 4:00pm 29 July 2021

Schools in operating under Levels 3, 3 plus, 4 and 4 plus settings are not permitted to hold excursions, field trips or camps.

If planning ahead for these activities, schools should consider costs and cancelation policies. Often deposits are non-refundable if events need to be cancelled closer to the date. Discuss these options with the providers at the time of booking.

Students, parents and carers should be made aware of any potential changes to plans including costs that may be incurred if an event is not able to proceed.

Exams

Schools must implement COVID-safe arrangements for exams to minimise mixing between students, ensure that students are appropriately spaced and that exams are conducted in well-ventilated rooms and spaces.

NESA has announced a number of changes to the 2021 HSC timetables. For more information, refer to the HSC advice.

Formals, graduations, end of year celebrations, orientations and transition

Further advice will be provided in Term 4 working closely with the mass gatherings team in NSW Health.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines, and also refer to the Guidance to support boarding schools.

Border communities

Last updated 9 am 29 August 2021

Where state-specific border restrictions allow students and staff to cross the border, students and staff should refer to the level settings for the local government area in which their school is located.

All students and staff who cannot attend school or work due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.

Travel and public transport

  • Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 12 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.
  • All staff operating vehicles are required to wear a mask or face covering.
  • All students aged 12 years and over are required to wear a mask or face covering in a vehicle being used to provide a public transport service in line with the public health order.
    • Children aged 11 years and under should be encouraged to wear a face mask whilst using public transport in line with school operational levels. For schools within areas under stay-at-home restrictions, face masks are recommended for children aged 11 years and under whilst using public transport.
    • School children/adolescents should be encouraged to not eat or drink whilst using public transport as this might lead to groups of children seated together removing their facemasks at the same time, increasing the risk of transmission. Students should also be reminded to not share drinks, snacks or other food.
  • Staff and students should be reminded about how to correctly wear a face mask.
  • Wherever possible students should be transported to schools by private vehicle to minimise mixing enroute to school. Restrictions on carpooling apply.
  • All transport staff should be encouraged to be vaccinated ahead of schools returning and community restrictions being eased.
  • Students should be encouraged to sanitise their hands prior to entering and after exiting transport vehicles.
  • Adequate spacing between passengers and bus drivers should be maintained with seats cordoned off.
  • Air flow and ventilation within vehicles should be optimised as fresh air reduces the risk of transmission.
    • Windows should be opened where this is possible and safe to do so.
    • Recirculation of air flow should be minimised by switching to non-recirculate.
    • Ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are well maintained and operating properly. Transport for NSW should consider consulting a relevant expert to provide more detailed advice if this has not already been done.
  • Transport vehicles should operate to the lowest level of density they can, noting there are existing restrictions around capacity. Wherever possible, physical distancing should be maintained.

Meetings, staff development days, professional learning

Staff must:

  • use virtual platforms where applicable
  • follow health advice in regards to gatherings.

Non-school based staff may only attend by online meeting platforms.

Specialist centres and support units

Refer to the advice for specialist centres on wearing masks for or face coverings as well as information on how to support students while working from home and more.

Preschools managed by the Catholic sector

Preschools are to be managed consistent with the rest of the schools in accordance with these guidelines.

Preschools should consider procedures to support pick up and drop off from the school gates. Where this is not possible or unsafe, families should pick up from the door of the service, following COVID-safe guidelines.


Level 3 plus schools


Schools in areas where stay-at-home orders had been in place for an extended period of time (continuously from August 2021 or earlier) will follow a staged return to on-site learning under Level 3 plus settings from 18 October. Your school principal will advise you of your planned date of return and the COVID-safe plans on site to support this. All staff must be fully vaccinated before coming on site under the staged return.

Applies to all schools in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) and the following LGAs: Bathurst, Bourke, Broken Hill, Central Coast, Cessnock, Dubbo, Eurobodalla, Goulburn Mulwarre, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Lithgow, Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.

Students will return to face-to-face learning with NSW Health-approved COVID-safe settings on school sites in the following order:

  • from 18 October –Catholic preschools, Kindergarten, Year 1
  • from 25 October – all remaining year groups.

Students completing their HSC are already able to return in a limited way and this will continue for the remainder of Term 3. From 18 October, these students will have full-time access to school campuses and their teachers. Schools may make changes to the cohorts based on local needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the delivery of education in NSW and around the world. Our students, educational leaders, teachers, staff and families have shown remarkable resilience and flexibility throughout this period.

While the pandemic has affected everybody differently, there are some clear learnings and common themes emerging from NSW and around the world including the need for students to return to school as soon as it is safe for them to do so, because nothing can replace face-to-face learning with an expert teacher. Being at school with their teachers and peers is also vital for student wellbeing as well as social and emotional development.

About the staged return to school

In Greater Sydney and other areas currently operating under Level 4 restrictions, the NSW Health advice is that it is safest for students to return in stages rather than all at once. Students in Kindergarten and Year 1 will return first given the importance of developing their foundational learning in the early years and their disrupted experience to date. Year 12 and HSC students will also be prioritised as they prepare to complete their final year of schooling and transition to further education, training and work.

Schools are restricting activities to established student cohorts. This may be in class, grade or stage groupings dependent on the size and organisation of the school. Schools will consider, where practical, physical distancing and limiting interactions between groups at entry and exit points, transitioning between classes, and during recess and lunch breaks to reduce contact between student cohorts and staff.

Students and staff travelling to and from school by public transport must follow NSW Health advice, including mask wearing.

Order of return

Students will return to face-to-face learning with NSW Health-approved COVID safe settings on school sites in the following order as announced by the Premier on Thursday 7 October:

  • 18 October: Catholic preschools, Kindergarten and Year 1
  • 25 October: all remaining year groups.

Students in Year 12 and those completing their HSC are already able to return in a limited way and this will continue for the remainder of Term 3. From 18 October, these students will have full-time access to school campuses and their teachers. Schools may make changes to the cohorts based on local needs.

Conditions for a staged return to school

The NSW return to face-to-face learning plan for schools that were under an extended period of learning from home has been informed by the Doherty Institute Modelling Report for National Cabinet and ongoing advice from NSW Health.

For a staged return to face-to-face learning (Level 3 plus), the following conditions will need to have been met:

  • Students will only be able to return if the adult community vaccination rates are over 70%. This is on track for early to mid-October.
  • Where requirements are reached, students return to school in cohort groups – with students in Catholic Preschools, Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 as well as those completing their HSC prioritised, and other cohorts to follow.
  • If cases in certain LGAs increase significantly, learning from home will resume for that LGA until case numbers drop. This will be advised by NSW Health.
  • Start and finish times will be staggered, with no mixing among student cohorts.
  • Any staff member returning to school sites will be required to present evidence of 2 doses of vaccine.
  • Eligible high school students will be strongly encouraged to have received 2 doses of vaccine before their return to face-to-face learning.

Learning delivery

To provide a safe learning environment for students, minimise opportunities for transmission and enable the most effective contact tracing and containment measures in the event of a COVID-19 case, schools will be required to adopt a cohort model.

The principles of student cohorting are to:

  • minimise unnecessary physical interaction between students on school grounds
  • ensure that students learn and play only with those in their cohort, wherever possible
  • minimise opportunities for transmission and enhance contact tracing
  • minimise the potential for widespread infection across the school and wider school community
  • enable learning to be delivered effectively via face-to-face and home-based learning
  • facilitate opportunities for ongoing collaboration for staff, while delivering face-to-face and home-based learning.

Primary settings

In the early stages of returning to school (Catholic Preschools, Kindergarten and Year 1), students will be placed into class-based cohorts. Ideally this will be their normal class.

During this period:

  • Masks are strongly recommended to be worn by all students when indoors.
  • Classroom teachers will ideally be the allocated teacher for their cohort.
  • Each cohort will be allocated a learning space, completing all lessons and break times with their allocated cohort.
  • Break times, playground and canteen access will be staggered by cohort.
  • Within each cohort, students should maintain strict personal hygiene and physical distancing wherever possible.
  • Students who are unable to return to school will continue to receive one unit of work in line with current guidelines, delivered via online learning or learning from home packs. Teachers may facilitate this by:
    • working collaboratively with another staff member
    • structuring classroom delivery to enable time to support students learning from home
    • structuring classroom delivery to involve both face-to-face and home-based students in the learning.
  • In some schools (such as smaller schools, or those with a stage-based class structure), school leaders may choose to amalgamate smaller classes to form one cohort, while adhering to class size policy. Students must then remain in this cohort.

As additional year groups return to school, the class-based cohort model will be replaced by a year-based cohort model.

Schools will manage the year-based cohort model in a way that best meets the needs of their students, as long as they maintain the core principles of cohorting (outlined above).

Students in support classes should return in line with their year group and according to the needs of each student.

Secondary settings

  • Schools with secondary students will adopt a year-based cohorting model from the outset, which will determine their arrival, break and leave times. Schools will create smaller cohorts within year groups where subject choices and flexible timetabling allow.
  • Within each cohort, students should maintain strict personal hygiene and physical distancing.
  • Masks are required to be worn by all students in Year 7 and above when indoors.
  • These measures will enable secondary school students and teachers to return to their normal timetable.
  • Students who are unable to return to school will continue to be supported to learn from home in line with current guidelines.
  • Students in support classes should return in line with their year group and according to the needs of each student.

Specialist centres

  • It is recommended that students in specialist centres return at the same time as students in mainstream settings to maximise the re-establishment of a consistent routine.
  • Specialist centre, Life Skills HSC Pathway students should have the option to attend school as per the HSC guidelines provisioned for mainstream settings and where appropriate.
  • Given the complex and diverse nature of specialist centres, principals may choose to delay students’ return to face-to-face learning until Level 3 settings are in place. This should be considered in consultation with families to support the individual learning needs of the students.

A reminder for all families

Students are expected to attend school from their designation return to school date unless they are unwell or have even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms must be sent home and not return to school unless:

  • they have isolated for 10 days, when no medical certificate is available
  • they have a negative COVID-19 test result and are symptom free.

In circumstances where children have other medical reasons for recurrent symptoms, a letter from their GP is sufficient to negate the requirement for a negative test.

Anyone who is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms is strongly encouraged to get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received. Find your local testing clinics.

Break times

  • The class or year-based cohort system must be maintained at break times, and break times should be staggered by cohort wherever possible.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5m should be maintained, wherever possible.

Drop-offs and pick-ups

Drop-offs and pick-ups will be staggered by cohorts and schools are to use all possible entrances and exits to support the beginning and end of school days.

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding changes to student drop-off and pick-up. This includes staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if it is safe to do so. This does not apply to drop off and pick up from outside of school hours care (OOSHC) as sign-in and sign-out procedures are required.

Parents and carers should:

  • follow the physical distancing advice for their local area and avoid gathering outside school gates
  • remain outside school grounds (some exceptions may exist for specialist centres, vulnerable students or students with disability)
  • adhere to mask-wearing requirements in accordance with the Public Health Order
  • sign in using the Service NSW QR code if entering the school.

Check-in protocols when attending a school site

All staff and visitors attending a school site must comply with school protocols and check in using the applicable Service NSW QR code.

Masks and face coverings

Under Level 3, Level 3 plus and Level 4 settings masks are required indoors for staff and students in Year 7 and above. Masks are strongly recommended indoors for primary students.

It is also mandatory for all staff and students (over the age of 12) to carry a mask with them at all times.

Mask wearing requirements do not apply to the following staff and students:

  • children in early childhood services, pre-schools and early intervention classes
  • a student or staff member with a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable including, for example, a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma. They must carry evidence of this and produce it to the police on request.

Staff and students required to wear masks may remove them when:

  • they are eating or drinking
  • engaging in strenuous physical exercise
  • they are communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • the nature of their work or learning:
    • makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to their own, or another person’s health and safety, or
    • means clear enunciation or visibility of the person’s mouth is essential,
  • because of an emergency.
  • when they are alone in an office or classroom.

Student vaccinations

In the event that a vaccination program is implemented for primary-school-aged children in NSW public schools, informed consent will be sought from the child’s parents or carers before any vaccine is administered.

Parents and carers may wish to discuss options for vaccination with their GP in the event their child becomes eligible for a vaccination in NSW.

Visitors

Non-essential visitors are not permitted on school sites including:

  • official visitors and dignitaries
  • media and production crews
  • visits by local members.

Workers, including contractors supporting the infrastructure development and maintenance of schools, can continue on site.

Allied Health partners and other providers that are unable to deliver critical services remotely are permitted and should continue to operate in a COVID-safe way.

All essential visitors are required to sign in using the school’s Service NSW QR code.

All visitors are required to wear a face mask or covering in accordance with the Public Health Order.

Staff supporting schools

  • Staff providing essential support for student wellbeing are permitted on site, such as counsellors.
  • Non-school-based educational leaders are permitted to conduct visits in person, if essential.
  • Diocesan staff (unless as outlined in these guidelines) must not attend school sites unless services cannot be provided remotely.
  • Mask wearing and COVID check-in is required for all visitors.

What is permitted during school hours or within schools

Schools can continue to operate:

  • canteens where appropriate hygiene measures are in place, as long as:
    • they can ensure that they are accessed by one cohort at a time
    • physical distancing is in place
    • canteen staff follow normal COVID-safe protocols around vaccinations and testing
  • early childhood services (OSHC, vacation care, preschools etc.)

What is permitted with modification

Shared spaces

Shared spaces, such as changing rooms, libraries, school halls and other communal areas, may only be used by one cohort at a time, with adherence to strict personal hygiene protocols and physical distancing requirements.

Assisted student travel

Assisted student travel should be minimised wherever possible, in order to maintain the integrity of the cohort model. Assisted student travel will remain available for students who access the service and continue to attend school on site, in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Parents and carers are encouraged to use their personal vehicles to transport their children to and from school, whenever possible, in order to minimise risk of transmission.
  • As per current advice, carpooling with people outside of your household is not permitted for anyone residing in Greater Sydney. This includes both students and staff.
  • Students from different schools should be transported separately.

School-based activities

  • Dance and/or drama are permitted in line with COVID-safe practices within classes in outdoor spaces. Mixing of classes is not permitted (except for HSC assessment purposes with COVID-safe practices in place).
  • Library activities are permitted in line with infection control requirements.
  • Uniform stores can only operate if they are online or have pre-ordering arrangements in place, with one dedicated staff member attending outside of school hours to arrange distribution.
  • Emergency drills and evacuations where possible should be conducted in a COVID-safe manner. This means where possible keeping classes, groups or cohorts together.

Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements (including VET, TAFE, trade schools)

  • Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements are required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November. Those back on-site under Level 3 plus settings are required to be fully vaccinated from 18 October 2021. Principals should ensure all placements meet these requirements.
  • Catholic schools are encouraged to accommodate placements for final year pre-service teachers while under Level 3 plus settings and above restrictions. Schools may consider accommodating penultimate year pre-service teachers when they are on Level 3 settings.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools.
  • Schools should provide face-to-face learning opportunities for pre-service teachers where possible and mixed delivery learning opportunities where face to face is not possible.
  • VET work placements could resume wherever possible in line with Public Health Orders. Some industries where vaccinations are mandated may decline to take a placement student unless that student is fully vaccinated. NESA has advised that students who cannot complete their VET work placement due to COVID-related impacts will still be eligible for the HSC. Any placements must be subject to appropriate risk assessments and approvals.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • School based apprenticeship and traineeship training should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or on line can be delivered face to face as long as the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • In areas where lockdown has been lifted, School based apprentices and trainees (SBATs) may undertake employment as long as their employment complies with COVID-Safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • The white card training to school students should only be conducted via face to face delivery.
  • Work experience should be deferred.

Activities that are not permitted or on hold

Schools will stop the following activities during school hours or within school grounds:

  • singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs (except for HSC preparation and assessment purposes as outlined above)
  • sport (except for sport within existing PDHPE classes, provided this limits student mixing)
  • bands and ensembles
  • interschool activities and events including interschool sport, gala days, trials, knock outs and carnivals
  • special religious education/special education in ethics/voluntary student activities
  • community language schools
  • assemblies
  • school performances, productions, concerts, speech nights and award presentations
  • excursions, camps, field trips and principal-endorsed activities for students
  • international excursions
  • student visits to aged care facilities
  • community events (fetes, grandparents’ days etc.)
  • playgroups
  • P&F activities, including meetings (unless held online only)
  • all external providers and specialist programs not directly related to educational outcomes and support, including community use of school facilities (such as markets and all after school activities) unless delivered online only
  • school holiday programs (noting that vacation care programs on school sites may continue under current guidelines).

Exams

Schools must implement COVID-safe arrangements for exams to minimise mixing between students, ensure that students are appropriately spaced and that exams are conducted in well-ventilated rooms and spaces.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has announced a number of changes to the 2021 HSC timetables. For more information, refer to NESA.

Formals, graduations, end of year celebrations, orientations and transition

Further advice will be provided in Term 4 working closely with the mass gatherings team in NSW Health.

Online orientation and transition programs can be conducted in Term 4. Schools will contact parents and carers with more information.

Cleaning

Current cleaning regimes will continue on school sites. Target areas include high-touch areas and other hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and movement areas. Enhanced cleaning is delivered as part of the daily cleaning of schools.

Ventilation

Open or well-ventilated spaces reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. For more information, refer to the NSW Government’s COVID-19 guidance on ventilation.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines as well as Level 3 guidelines.

Preschools managed by the Catholic sector

Preschools will be managed consistent with the rest of the schools in accordance with these guidelines.

Preschools should consider procedures to support pick-up and drop-off from the school gates. Where this is not possible or unsafe, families should pick up from the door of the service, following COVID-safe guidelines.

Border communities

Students and staff in border communities can continue to attend NSW schools at this time, except for the following reasons:

  • They must remain at home if they are unwell, even with the mildest of symptoms. If they are unwell they must receive a negative COVID test and be symptom-free before returning to school.
  • If they have been to a venue of concern, or if they or someone in their household has been identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, they must comply with the self-isolation and testing requirements as directed by the relevant Health department.

All students and staff who cannot attend school or work due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.


Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW


Students are reminded to remain vigilant and practise physical distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff are maintained.

Check the latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW and follow the recommended actions if you have been in a location where there may have been exposure to COVID-19. We encourage members of the community to monitor this site. Please follow the relevant health advice if you have been at any of the locations at the specified dates and times.

The locations along with the times and dates of identified cases can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website. There are more than 350 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.


School Attendance


In accordance with advice from NSW Health, parents and carers are reminded NOT to send children to school if they are unwell, even if they have the mildest flu-like symptoms.

NSW Health has requested that schools encourage anyone who is unwell or has even mild flu-like symptoms, to arrange to be tested through their local medical practitioner or one of the COVID-19 clinics.

Students and staff with flu-like symptoms need to be tested and provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result and be symptom-free before being permitted to return to school.

Students who do not undertake a COVID-19 test will not be permitted to return to school for a 10-day period. Additionally, they must be symptom-free for at least 3 days prior to returning to school.

Students who have seasonal allergic rhinitis or another condition that presents similarly to flu-like symptoms are still required to get tested for COVID-19 and return a negative test result. Where their symptoms continue beyond 10 days, students should provide documentation from their GP confirming their symptoms are typical for their condition. If the student develops new or changed symptoms, they should get tested for COVID-19. Find more information about COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 testing for students with complex health or disability may be challenging. In these situations, schools will ask the parent or carer to have their child assessed by their medical practitioner. Where a medical practitioner determines that a COVID-19 test is not required, documentation must be provided to the school to confirm that the student does not have symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test. The certificate must also indicate that the student is able to return to school.

All schools will be vigilant when implementing infection control, physical distancing and personal hygiene protocols to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Schools will promote the need to follow good hygiene practices such as:

  • regularly washing hands.
  • avoiding sharing drinks or food.
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or a tissue which should be discarded immediately.

Students will be supported to learn from home in the following circumstances:

  • If they are required to self-isolate due to being a close contact of a positive or suspected COVID-19 case.
  • Where the school is directed under public health advice to only remain operational for children of essential workers if an outbreak of COVID-19 was to arise in the local area.

Responding to COVID-19 cases


There is a clear plan in place for schools to respond to any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We are working closely with NSW Health and will communicate with parents if a situation arises.


Mental Health Support


Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak is important. Please see below a suite of contacts & resources to assist you.

Beyond Blue: Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Headspace: How to cope with stress related to COVID-19

Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Mensline – 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800


Other Catholic School Agencies


Catholic schools in NSW operate under the auspices of one of the 11 diocesan Catholic schools offices or one of the 20 religious institutes or ministerial public juridic persons (PJPs). The contact details for these Catholic school agencies can be found below (or by key word search). The day to day operational responsibility, including the employment of staff, for Catholic systemic schools lies with the 11 diocesan offices and the individual school for ‘independent’ Catholic schools run by the religious institutes and PJPs. Concerns or questions should be directed to the relevant Catholic school agency or school in the first instance.Contact your diocese for more information:

Diocese of Armidale
Diocese of Bathurst
Diocese of Broken Bay
Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn
Diocese of Lismore
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Diocese of Parramatta
Sydney Catholic Schools
Diocese of Wagga Wagga
Diocese of Wilcannia Forbes
Diocese of Wollongong

More information

For media enquiries please contact the CSNSW Public Affairs Unit
e: [email protected]
p: 02 9287 1530