NEWS | January 29 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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Affected Schools


Schools should report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to your Diocesan office (Systemic schools) or Catholic Schools NSW (RI and PJP schools) and contact the local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 to provide details so that the Public Health Unit can follow up as necessary.


Current Advice


Catholic Schools working closely with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), NSW Health and other agencies to ensure our schools continue to operate in the safest ways possible in the COVID-19 environment.

Schools are operating full time while actively following health advice.

Schools continue to be safe, and operations are in line with Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and NSW Health advice. All students should be learning on campus unless they are unwell or have a medical certificate to support their absence.

Activities permitted at school will be conducted in a way that is safe and appropriate in the current environment. Activities that remain on hold will be reviewed at regular intervals and will recommence when appropriate based on health and other relevant advice.

Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW

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 when identified cases were identified can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website.

School attendance

Students should be at school unless:

  • they have a medical certificate which states that they are unable to return to school due to an ongoing medical condition and the expected timeframe
  • they are currently unwell.

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.

Wearing face masks and temperature screening

Staff and students are not required to wear a face mask while at school. Anyone who wishes to wear their own masks in schools will not be prevented from doing so.

Students over the age of 12 and staff must comply with the Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport, or by chartered/private transport services. This applies to staff and students who reside or travel to and from Greater Sydney.

Wearing a face mask is not mandatory for parents and carers visiting schools, provided they are visiting only for the explicit reasons within this advice and maintain physical distancing and hygiene practices while at school.

Widespread temperature screening is not required or recommended in schools.

School activities and school site usage

What’s changed

The following activities have been updated:

  • Schools can welcome parents back to school in a COVID safe way.
  • There are no limits for singing groups or in-class educational activities such as group repetition, chanting or recitation.
  • P&F meetings and events are permitted with a COVID Safety Plan
  • Dancing activities, including dance classes, balls and social events, can proceed in a COVID safe way
  • School sporting activity requirements, whether indoors or outdoors, are aligned with those in place for other community sporting competitions and training activities in NSW.

School may adopt the following changes commencing 8 March 2021 in all schools:

  • Parents and carers may enter the school to drop off and pick up students in accordance with local school arrangements.
  • P&F meetings and other gatherings of parents and/or community members for school events (such as working bees) can proceed.  All participants must continue to comply with the gathering limits prescribed by the Public Health Orders. Physical distancing and hygiene measures must be adhered to at all times.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes the requirement to sign the school sign-in sheet where they acknowledge that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers each time they visit. Visitors must also check in using the Service NSW QR code.
  • School can welcome parents and carers to attend school sporting events and activities, whether indoors or outdoors, in line with the requirements in place for other community sporting competitions and training activities in NSW.
  • Students are able to mix together across year groups or other cohorts for all school related activities.
  • School orientation programs can continue.
  • There are no recommended limits on the number of performers in singing groups, including for in-class educational activities such as group repetition, chanting, recitation, or singing activities.

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.

  • Field trips, excursions and camps to Victoria, Queensland and ACT can continue where interstate border requirements permit.
  • Schools in the border regions can continue to engage in swimming and other activities using venues in other states or territories where border requirements permit.

School activities and school site usage without change

Schools will apply the following guidelines to adhere to NSW Health advice:

  • Interschool activities can continue to take place.
  • External providers delivering educational services can proceed with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
  • Activities involving musical instruments can proceed.

Activities on hold

The following events will continue to be reconsidered. For now, these events must remain on hold.

  • International excursions (cancelled until further notice).

School events including performances, productions, plays and other social activities

School performances, productions, plays, concerts and other events can continue. These events must comply with the COVID-19 guidelines and NSW Health requirements for COVID safe events.

Schools must have in place and comply with the relevant COVID-19 Safety Plan  when planning and conducting these events. The following considerations for schools apply:

  • Ensure that all attendees, including students, staff and visitors, parents and carers, are well and free of any flu-like symptoms.
  • Catering arrangements will comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements where appropriate.
  • Special guests such as the Local Member of Parliament and videographer or photographer may attend events.
  • Events held on school sites will need to limit guests based on the physical distancing requirements as per the relevant square metre rules. Schools will need to invite guests based on the total number of people (this includes staff, students, parents & carers or visitors) who are able to be accommodated.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes the requirement to sign the school sign-in sheet where they acknowledge that they will comply with the COVID-19 requirements for visitors, contractors and service providers each time they visit. Visitors must also check in using the Service NSW QR code.
  • The school is required to maintain a record of names and contact details for all attendees including school staff and visitors for at least 28 days after the event. This record must only be used for the purposes of contact tracing for COVID-19 infections and be stored confidentially and securely.
  • When holding events at external venues, all external venues and providers must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure health and safety measures are in place.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing of students in schools is not required.

All teachers, support staff and parents must maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m).

Parents should ensure school pick up and drop off arrangements enable them to physically distance from one another and from staff.

Boarding schools

An update has been made requesting schools confirm that students, staff and other persons entering the residential areas of the school have not attended any of the locations listed on the NSW Government website as a location of concern.

Other changes taking effect on 8 March 2021 include the following:

  • Students residing at a boarding school can mix with other students without restriction while in residential areas of the school
  • Boarding students may continue to attend local gyms, boxing, water polo and other events in the community after school hours.
  • Parents or carers may continue to take students off school grounds for activities to spend time with them.
  • Orientation for boarders may continue as arranged by the school including an opportunity for students to stay in the boarding house.

Residential area are to remain off limits to those not residing or working at the boarding school unless by appointment with the school.

Border restrictions

All students and staff are able to cross borders to attend school and work. There may be a need to complete a declaration form in some locations to meet border requirements. Be sure to check the relevant border authority to ensure you meet the necessary requirements.

Schools will be advised when there are changes to any border requirements impacting schools.

School cleaning and hygiene supplies

Schools will continue to receive additional cleaning in line with the AHPPC guidelines and advice from NSW Health. Target areas include high-touch areas and other hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and movement areas. There will also be additional cleaning of toilets and bubblers and topping up of supplies like soap.

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.

Transport

Bus services to and from schools continue to operate as normal. For travel advice to and from school, refer to Transport for NSW.

Students over the age of 12 must comply with the Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport, or by chartered/private transport services. This applies to staff and students who reside or travel to and from Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains), Central Coast and Wollongong.

Provide your child with a mask and encourage them to wear it as required when using or waiting for public transport. Refer to the NSW Government website for more information.


Advice on school closures for non-government schools


Some have called for school closures and the matter is the subject of debate in the community. This and other public health responses to COVID-19 are being considered daily at CSNSW, and in meetings between Australia’s chief health officers, drawing on advice from the national leaders in pandemic management and from the experience with this and previous pandemics. CSNSW is in discussion with NSW Health and the NSW Department of Education on a regular basis every day.If or when school closures become the best way to manage the spread of the virus in NSW, then we must be ready to do so. This is not currently a proactive measure that must be taken for NSW schools. However, schools that have a confirmed case of COVID‐19 should immediately contact the Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055. It may then be necessary to immediately, though temporarily, close the school while close contacts of the confirmed case can be ascertained, and necessary precautions taken to ensure those potentially infected can self-isolate.

NSW Health’s current advice is that school closures could just migrate the spread of the virus to the local shopping centres and other areas where elderly and those at risk might likely to be. The advice remains that only those who have been in direct, close contact with a confirmed case need to stay away from school or work for 14 days.

A person will be advised by NSW Health if they are a close or casual contact. Staff should not be making those determinations for themselves.

  • A close contact is someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, as someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 when that person was infectious.
  • A casual contact is someone who has been face to face for less than 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for less than 2 hours, as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 when that person was infectious.

NESA advice


Keeping HSC Exams COVID Safe

This year, schools must operate HSC exams in line with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee ( AHPCC) advice for reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Further information has been sent to schools, including those hosting HSC performance and oral language exams, on how to ensure students, school communities and markers stay safe during the HSC exam period. A copy of the correspondence can be viewed here for your information.

COVID-19 information for students attending HSC exams is available on the NESA website.

Update to K to 10 curriculum requirements for 2020

NESA has given principals and school sectors the authority to decide which syllabus outcomes and content they teach and assess for Kindergarten to Year 10 in 2020.

Along with flexibility already available in the curriculum, this decision supports schools and teachers to develop teaching and learning programs for students as they progressively return to face-to-face learning at school.

Detailed advice on K to 10 curriculum requirements is available.

Learning from home

NSW schools are continuing to support your child’s learning whether at school or at home.

Parents do not need to apply to register for home schooling to keep students at home during the outbreak of coronavirus.

As NSW school students gradually transition back to the classroom during Term 2, parents who are unsure when to send their child should contact their school.

Year 11 & 12

NESA has issued an updated advice for Year 11 & 12 students who may be affected by school disruptions due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Schools need to provide students with the opportunity to engage with school work and assessment and meet course completion criteria.

Read the advice here.


Australian Government advice


The Australian Government has published a daily alert with the latest medical advice and official reports.


Facilitating China-based students to attend Yr 11 and 12


Only students enrolled at NSW schools and granted approval to travel from the Australian Border Force Commissioner will be allowed entry to Australia. This approval will be on a case by case basis and must be granted prior to a student undertaking travel to Australia.Students (and their accompanying guardian) must meet the following criteria:

  • be a current international student visa holder, granted on or before 22 February 2020, and be enrolled in an eligible year 11 or 12 course;
  • not currently be unwell;
  • not travelling from, or via, Hubei province in China;
  • have a stable residential address at their point of entry into Australia to enable self-isolation for 14 days; and
  • be willing and able to meet the quarantine requirements set out by state or territory health authorities.

Students deemed exempt from the travel restriction arriving in Australia will be subject to the same enhanced border measures that apply for Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from China.Every student will undertake a 14 day isolation period upon arrival, which will be assured by NSW Health. Students will also be given information about how to obtain medical attention if they experience symptoms whilst in self-isolation.

More information about this travel exemption is available from the
Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment.


Practising good hygiene


Maintaining good hygiene standards is an important way to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections using infection control guidelines. The Department of Education has made their infection control procedures available and it provides a range of practical strategies for schools to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. Schools are reminded to provide appropriate hand washing soap as hand washing is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease.Social distancing is an effective measure, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce potential for transmission. Social distancing includes:

  • avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
  • avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example family celebrations
  • attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible, for example when they are out and about in public place.
  • avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment

The NSW Ministry of Health has advice and resources about COVID-19 in:


Parent enquiries


Concerns or questions should be directed to the school or the relevant Catholic school agency in the first instance.

CSNSW will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep our schools up to date on this matter.


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: comms@csnsw.catholic.edu.au
p: 02 9287 1530