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


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


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.

The activities that are permitted at school will be conducted in a way that is safe and appropriate in the current environment. Those that remain on hold will be reviewed during the term and will recommence when appropriate based on health and other relevant advice.

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. Schools will make arrangements for students who present as unwell or have flu like symptoms to be sent home.

NSW Health have 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 will need to provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result before being permitted to return to school.

Schools are not required to conduct widespread temperature screening or mandate the wearing of a mask.

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
  • filling water bottles from bubblers rather than using the bubbler directly.

All students and staff who reside in or have visited Victoria must have a permit to enter NSW and are required to comply with health restrictions relevant to their permit which may include the need complete the 14 day self-isolation period commencing the last day they were in Victoria.

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 have been confirmed cases of 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 the cases were identified can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website.

School activities/school site usage

Additional safety measures for school activities have been put in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools for the remainder of Term 3.

The following principles underpin these measures:

·       Where possible, students will stay within their relevant cohort group (i.e. class, year group, or stage) for all learning activities within their school in order to limit close contacts to the relevant student cohort.

·       Inter school activities must remain within the local community or zone. This applies to all interschool sport and physical activities, curriculum activities, arts activities and extra-curricular activities organised or sponsored by the school. Schools must not travel outside of their local community area. Metropolitan schools cannot travel outside their local area or to regional areas. Regional areas cannot travel into metropolitan areas or other regional areas.

·       Only providers that are essential to the delivery of curriculum can continue to provide services and programs until further notice.

·       Parents/carers and other non-essential visitors are not allowed on the school site.

  • All group singing (choirs) and/or other chanting activities, as well as the use of wind instruments in group settings, are not permitted. Special arrangements are in place for HSC students.
  • Year 11 and 12 students completing HSC subjects may continue to attend classes/activities relating to subjects only available on other campuses. All other students including Year 11 students not completing a HSC subject are not to attend other campuses for the remainder of Term 3. TAFE and other VET programs may continue.
  • School formals, dances, graduation or other social events are not permitted Schools may hold a Year 12 assembly at school without parents to recognise the completion of school. Schools may consider delaying events until later in the year.

Activities/site usage that can take place:

  • Use the school library
  • Engage in sporting activities within restrictions
  • Canteens and uniform shops can open at principal’s discretion
  • All VET work placements can proceed subject to the availability of placement, appropriate risk assessments, and a COVID-19 Safety Plan must be in place. For any that can’t proceed, refer to the NESA website.
  • School based apprenticeships and traineeships can recommence once the relevant workplaces are back in operation and a COVID-19 Safety Plan is in place.
  • Trade Training Centres can operate on school sites with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.
  • School assemblies (limited to 15 minutes and no external visitors)
  • Students may attend other schools for essential curriculum related reasons or placements (e.g. auditions or placement tests)
  • Hydrotherapy pools can be used
  • Incursions/external providers can provide activities that support delivery of curriculum (e.g. music tutors, sport skills development programs, science demonstrations, drama tutors, Healthy Harold).
  • Day field trips to outdoor locations with no physical distancing requirements can take place (e.g. DoE Environmental Education Centres and sport and recreation facilities, trips to local river to collect water samples)
  • Face-to-face TAFE attendance (see TAFE website for further information)
  • School photos
  • Community use agreements involving adult attendance must have a COVID Safe Plan in place.
  • Work experience for students with a COVID Safe Plan in place.
  • P&F meetings and events must be on-line only.
  • Parent/teacher meetings will be online unless involving serious matters that require face to face discussion.

Activities on hold for Term 3

The following events will be reconsidered in Term 3. For now, these events must remain on hold.

  • Kindergarten orientation
  • Year 7 orientation has been delayed until Term 4.
  • School camps
  • Excursions (other than field trips explained above)
  • Interstate excursions
  • International excursions (cancelled until further notice)
  • All students (except year 12 students) attending classes/activities relating to subjects only available on other campuses
  • School or community run playgroups
  • Face to face professional learning for staff. Refer to the Physical distancing guidelines.
  • Parent and carer attendance at assemblies and other school events
  • Parent and carer volunteers – e.g. parent reading helpers (note: canteen and uniform shop volunteers are permitted)
  • School-based activities that involve large gathering of adults. These include parent/community gatherings such as parent functions, working bees, fundraisers, school BBQs, large parent information evenings, and large on-site cultural events.
  • Interschool sport, drama, debating and other events including gala days and regional sporting carnivals.
  • Certain large arts and sports events are cancelled or delayed. Many large-scale arts events and sports tournaments rely upon feeder activities and have long-lead time organisational arrangements. As a consequence, a number of annual activities are planned to be delayed or cancelled.

Activities that are cancelled

  • Certain large arts and sports events are cancelled or delayed because they require feeder activities and have long-lead-time organisational arrangements. Please speak to your schools if you would like to know more.

International excursions are cancelled until further notice.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing of students in schools is not required under the AHPPC guidelines.

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.

The latest NSW-Victoria border restrictions

The temporary closure of the NSW-Victoria border, which was implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19 from Victoria and to protect the health and wellbeing of NSW residents, remains in force.

From 12.01am Friday, 4 September 2020 there will be a single border region and there will no longer be a border zone. A new border region resident permit will be introduced. This will allow a Victorian border region resident, including a border region resident in certain remote communities, to enter NSW:

  • to get necessary goods or services
  • for care or other compassionate reasons
  • to attend work or education (where it is not possible to do from home)
  • to permanently move homes into NSW.

A NSW border region resident can use the permit to enter Victoria for the same reasons and then return home to NSW.

If you have a border zone resident permit or a critical service – border region permit that is current at 12.01am Friday, 4 September it will:

  • be considered a new border region resident permit, with the new conditions
  • continue to be valid until the permit’s date of expiry.

What has changed

Any student or staff member in the new border region will be able to continue crossing the border to attend school or work as long as they stay within the border region and have a valid permit.

The changes under the updated Public Health Order are:

  • Staff and students residing within the Victorian border region and travelling to attend a school within the NSW border region will be able to so with a Border Region Resident Permit.
  • Victorian residents living outside the border region will not be able to cross the border to attend school without an exemption.
  • Year 11 and 12 students and HSC teachers can continue to cross the border with an Authority to travel letter.
  • Students attending a School for Specific Purposes will be eligible for a special permit through the NSW Government website. This permit does not apply to students with support needs attending a mainstream NSW school.
  • All other students and staff who are unable to attend school due to the border restrictions will be supported to learn and work from home.
  • Any student or staff member who has been in a Victorian restricted area or in a COVID-19 area of concern in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter NSW.

Principals will work closely with families to provide appropriate learning support for students being supported through remote learning.

While the border restrictions remain in place, NSW students and staff are discouraged from travelling to Victoria.

For more information, visit the NSW Government’s NSW-Victoria border restrictions website.

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. Catholic Schools NSW, Diocesan Offices and Ri and PJP schools are working closely with NSW Health and will communicate with parents if a situation arises.

Boarding schools

The following requirements will apply to students returning to reside at a NSW boarding school:

  • Students returning to reside in a NSW public school from Victoria must self-isolate for a period of 14 days in suitable accommodation separate from the boarding school/college.
  • They must have a negative naso-pharyngeal swab for COVID at day 10 of isolation.
  • Prior to the school accepting the student back within the boarding facility, parents and carers will need to provide written confirmation to the school that their child has self-isolated for the 14 day period since they were last in Victoria and returned a negative test result prior to leaving self-isolation.

Transport

Bus services to and from schools are scheduled to run as normal. For travel advice to and from school refer to the NSW public transport service.


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