NEWS | April 2, 2020 (Originally Published January 28, 2020)

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

There are currently no Catholic schools in NSW closed due to COVID-19. 

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

Over the weekend The Department of Education released updated guidelines for NSW schools. In summary, the previously issued advice has been maintained:

  • There is no Government-mandated closure of schools (including boarding schools).
  • The dates of the upcoming school holidays remain
  • The advice from the Commonwealth and NSW Governments to keep schools open and operational will be revisited on in the coming days.

As the situation continues to evolve, we are aware that access to immediate and up-to-date advice will be critical. As such, CSNSW has established a dedicated hotline for advice on COVID-19 for school and system leaders only.

This number is 1800 427 679

Current advice from the NSW Government for parents and affected staff is:

  • Any student or staff member who has been in, departed from, or transited through the following countries is excluded from child care services, school or work for 14 days from the date they left the country:
    1. – mainland China – since 1 February
    2. – Iran – since 1 March
    3. – the Republic of Korea (South Korea) – since 5 March.
    4. – Italy – since 11 March
  • Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return.
  • Close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
  • Students and staff who have returned to Australia and have shown no symptoms during the 14-day home-isolation period are able to return to school or work.

The NSW Ministry of Health has processes in place to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia. A close contact is a person who has spent significant time either face to face (15 min) or in an enclosed space (two hours or more) as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is advising these close contacts about not attending work, school or early childhood and childcare services.Catholic Schools NSW continues to work closely with NSW Ministry of Health to monitor and respond to developments and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.

Consistent with current guidelines, children, students and staff who are unwell with respiratory illness should remain at home until symptoms resolve. In accordance with our current practice if any student becomes unwell schools should implement their infection control guidelines and follow the advice provided by the NSW Ministry of Health as appropriate.

For more information, visit NSW Health.

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

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
p: 02 9287 1530