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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Current Advice


Advice on the restrictions and stay-at-home orders as announced by the NSW Premier at 11am on Wednesday 7 July for Greater Sydney will mean 2 separate guidelines for schools depending on their location.

The guidelines are separated as those for:

  • Schools in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour)
  • Schools outside of Greater Sydney.

Parents and carers should confirm arrangements with their children/child’s school.

UPDATE: Sunday 11 July 4pm
Staff travelling between Greater Sydney and outside of Greater Sydney

NSW Health is asking that people who travel regularly between Greater Sydney and regional NSW for essential work undergo regular testing, every 7 days for COVID-19 where possible, even if they do not have symptoms. This is particularly important for people from Greater Sydney who work across multiple sites in regional NSW, and for those who live in areas of concern (such as south-west Sydney) and travel to regional NSW for essential work. While this is not a requirement, it is strongly encouraged to support NSW Health to continue its response to COVID-19. Where testing is undertaken without symptoms, you are not required to isolate until you receive your results.

At this time, there are no changes for guidance issued last Friday (9 July 20201) for boarding schools or staff/students travelling to boarding schools from Greater Sydney. There is no new action for schools, although Principals in regional and rural schools should discuss this advice with their workforce, including casual teachers or regular essential visitors.

At all times, please continue to:

  • closely monitor for symptoms for COVID-19 and immediately get tested should you have the mildest of symptoms, regardless of where you live or work. If you get tested for COVID-19 because you have symptoms or if you have been directed by NSW Health to do so, you must isolate at home prior to receiving your test result
  • refer to the NSW Health list of exposure sites/venues of concern and act on the guidance from NSW Health if you have been to any of these venues.

Advice for Schools in Greater Sydney


Learning from home is encouraged; schools are open for families who need it – applies to schools in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour).

Students encouraged to learn from home. No student is to be turned away. Early childhood education services can continue to operate.

All non–core curriculum related activities are to cease on school site.

At this level, schools should not turn away any student from attending the school site in person. Schools will provide a program of learning for students who attend school, and students who are learning from home.

Schools should revert to their remote learning mode, using existing resources and programs.

Vulnerable staff and students

Schools should continue to support vulnerable staff and student cohorts, with vulnerable staff supported to work from home.

In-line with current health advice, the following persons are considered vulnerable:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people aged 65 years or older with chronic medical conditions
  • people aged 70 years or older
  • people with a compromised immune system.

A reminder for all families

Students should not attend school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and should not return to school until they have received a negative 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.


Masks and face coverings 

While at school, masks or face coverings are required in all indoor settings for:

  • all students in Year 7 and above
  • all staff in school settings.

 

Some exemptions apply:

  • Staff are not required to wear a mask or face covering where it may affect the ability of a student or students to hear or engage with them, such as where students are hard of hearing.
  • As per the broader health advice, early childhood staff are exempt from wearing face masks when they are working directly with children. However, staff are recommended to wear masks or face coverings otherwise, whenever indoors.
  • Masks or face coverings are not required to be worn by a staff member or student who has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, that makes wearing a mask unsuitable. For example, if they have a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, they are not required to wear a mask. Refer to Face mask rules on the NSW Government website.

Masks remain mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 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.

Visitors

Non-essential visitors are not permitted on school sites.

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 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 disabilities)
  • adhere to mask-wearing requirements and sign in using the Service NSW QR code when entering the school.
  • Practicum teachers and Professional experience placement
  • Schools who choose to accommodate placements will only support final year pre-service teachers who are due to graduate by the end of this semester.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools this includes TAFE admin placements.
  • 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.

Practicum teachers and professional experience placement (including VET, TAFE, trade schools)

  • Schools who choose to accommodate placements will only support final year pre-service teachers who are due to graduate by the end of this semester.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools.
  • Schools will 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 in schools work placement is deferred until further notice in line with NESA advice.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses will continue to be delivered virtually or deferred.
  • School-based apprenticeships and traineeships training will continue to be delivered virtually or deferred. Work placement for these programs is deferred.
  • Work experience is deferred.

 

QR code sign-in process for all staff and visitors

The NSW Government have introduced mandatory QR codes across a range of additional settings, including schools. All staff and visitors permitted on school sites will be required to check in and check out using the QR codes.

Parents and carers or other visitors to the school who do not have access to electronic devices for the purposes of QR check in can:

  • authorise another person to provide their contact details on their behalf
  • provide their details to the school to be recorded in an appropriate manner for provision to NSW Health should it be required. In these circumstances, please enter any paper records into an electronic format such as a spreadsheet within 12 hours to support NSW Health contact tracing should it be required.

School operations

  • Early childhood services including outside of school hours care (OOSHC) can continue to operate for those who need it.
  • Families to be encouraged to keep their children at home wherever possible but no child will be turned away from school.
  • Implement revised attendance procedures incorporating use of “F” for students participating in learning from home.
  • Minimum staff on-site to oversee one unit of learning for students attending school site, noting that flexible syllabus requirements are in place.
  • Canteens and uniform stores are not to operate.
  • No community use arrangements.
  • No community language schools.
  • Continued enhanced cleaning and hygiene supply arrangements.
  • No P&C activities on school sites.

Outside of school hours care providers

Principals should support outside of school hours care (OOSHC) providers using small spaces within schools to access larger spaces to support reduced mingling wherever possible.

HSC Students

HSC students will be supported to attend schools to do coursework, project work and exam preparations where this cannot be done from home. Students who attend will be required to adhere to strict COVID safe practices, including physical distancing and wearing a mask or face covering.

For information about the HSC, visit educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/covid-19-advice. Teachers, students and parents can also contact the NESA COVID-19 support team on 1300 138 323 or covid19support@nesa.nsw.edu.au.

Further advice will be provided about HSC trial exams.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines, and send all students home where possible.

All specialist settings, including schools for special purpose and support units

Schools will consider additional support for families with students with disability and supporting their specific needs during this time.

The Assisted School Travel Program (ASTP) will remain available for students who access the service and continue to attend school on site. Adhere to COVID safe practices in line with NSW Health advice.

Preschools managed by the Catholic Sector

Preschools can continue to operate as per advice for early childhood services.

As per the broader health advice, early childhood staff are exempt from wearing face masks when they are working directly with children. However, staff must wear masks or face coverings otherwise, whenever indoors.

Families are asked to support alternative arrangements for 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.

Ventilation

Open or well-ventilated spaces reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 because infectious particles are more quickly diffused in the open air than in spaces with less ventilation. Outdoor settings will be used where practicable.

Information for Early Childhood Education and Care services

Early childhood education and care services – including family day care residences and venues and Out of School Hours Care services – in Greater Sydney including the LGAs of Fairfield, Canterbury/Bankstown and Liverpool, may continue to operate. In these 3 local government areas, parents are strongly encouraged to keep their children at home if they are able to do so, in order to limit movement in the community.

Masks are required in Early Childhood Education and Care settings in the Greater Sydney region (including indoor and outdoor environments).

Working with Children Checks extended for three months

Office of the Children’s Guardian announced yesterday that Working with Children Checks due to expire between 19 July 2021 and 26 September 2021 have been extended for three months. People who are granted an extension will be advised by email and the system will be automatically updated. As restrictions are extended due to COVID-19, the primary concern for the Office of the Children’s Guardian is the safety of children.

There are more than 40,000 clearances in NSW that are due to expire in the next two months. This includes teachers and medical staff who require a clearance and may be restricted in their capacity to go to a Service NSW centre to finalise their renewal application.

The Children’s Guardian has extended all clearances that were due to expire from 19 July to 26 September for a further three months. The three-month period applies from the date of the person’s current expiry date.

Employers should update their records to indicate the change in their employee’s expiry date.

People applying for the first time will need to go through the regular application process, which includes attending a Service NSW centre to verify their identity. This is to maintain the integrity of the Working with Children Check and ensure that children are not put at undue risk.

Transport – Greater Sydney Schools

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has reviewed the disruptions to the dedicated school services that occurred yesterday. TfNSW has been able to confirm the following moving forward:

  • For those that have a dedicated school service operated by Transport (STA), all services will be rostered as per normal effective today 20th July, with the exception of services where the school has already advised they do not need those services in the current climate.
  • Regarding services run by private operators, effective today 20th July, they will be operating on a reduced capacity and in some cases are not able to provide services. Operators have been in contact with affected schools to advise of any alterations to services.

Advice for Schools Outside Greater Sydney


Restrictions on certain activities and non-essential visitors apply to schools outside of Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour).

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

Staff and students should reduce traveling to geographical areas with higher levels of COVID-19 restrictions in place.

A reminder for all families

Students should not attend school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and should not return until they have received a negative 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.

Vulnerable staff and students 

Schools should continue to support vulnerable staff and student cohorts, with vulnerable staff supported to work from home.

In line with current health advice, the following persons are considered vulnerable:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people aged 65 years or older with chronic medical conditions
  • people aged 70 years or older
  • people with a compromised immune system.

Masks and face coverings 

While at school, masks or face coverings are recommended in all indoor settings  for:

  • all students  in Year 7 and above
  • all staff in school settings.

Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 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.

Visitors 

Non-essential visitors are not permitted in schools. Some visitors are permitted in schools based on the guidelines that follow.

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding changes to drop off and pick up including staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if safe to do so.

Parents should:

  • maintain physical distancing by avoiding gathering outside of school gates
  • remain outside of school grounds (note some exceptions may apply regarding schools for specific purposes, vulnerable students or students with disability)
  • follow mask-wearing requirements and sign in using the Service NSW QR code when entering the school.

QR code sign-in process for all staff and visitors

The NSW Government have introduced mandatory QR codes across a range of additional settings, including schools.

Parents and carers permitted on school sites for specific purposes are required to check in using the QR codes available and check out once they leave the school site.

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

Schools can operate:

  • Sport within school grounds may continue, provided mingling of students in minimised
  • Work experience
  • Emergency drills.

Community activities

  • Childhood Education Services (OSHC, vacation care, preschools etc.)
  • Community Language Schools
  • Playgroups
  • Share Our Space will proceed in-line with current health advice. All visitors will be required to practice physical distancing and check in using the Service NSW QR code
  • School holiday programs
  • All external providers and specialist programs not directly related to educational outcomes and support

Visitors

  • Allied Health partners and non-school staff that are unable to deliver critical services remotely
  • Contractor and maintenance providers can conduct critical or urgent works on-site.

Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses,and research

  • These activities are permitted with COVID-Safe practices in place.

Practicum teachers and professional experience placement  

  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools. This includes TAFE admin placements.
  • 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.

 

What is permitted with modification 

School based activities

  • Assemblies can be held with COVID-safe practices in place. No visitors permitted.
  • Singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs are permitted if conducted outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Bands and ensembles are permitted in line with current health advice.
  • Dance or drama are permitted in line with COVID-Safe practices within classes. · Library activities are permitted in line with the Infection Control requirements.
  • ·Principal-endorsed activities for students.

Events

  • Community use and events outside school hours
  • Excursions will be limited to outdoor locations within the Local Government Area of the school where the school can demonstrate COVID Safe practices
  • Parents and carers may attend for the purposes of school orientation programs
  • School orientation programs are permitted with COVID-safe practices in place
  • Inter-school, inter-regional and intrastate activities and events, such as gala days and sporting carnivals can continue with COVID-safe practices in place
  • Schools must make alternative arrangements for performances, productions, concerts, speech nights, award presentations, graduations, formals and school dances that support the broader guidance. Personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping practices must be adhered to at these events

Community activities

  • P&Factivities including meetings
  • Community use outside school hours
  • Canteens and uniform stores where appropriate hygiene measures are in place
  • Electoral commission officers conducting polling location inspections permitted they follow COVID-19 requirements for visitors
  • All polling days will require additional planning from the electoral commission based on health advice of the time.

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

Schools must cease the following activities.

School based activities

  • Camps and out of area field trips
  • Voluntary student activities of a religious nature (VSA).
  • Overnight stays
  • International excursions
  • Student visits to aged care facilities
  • Community events within school hours.

Visitors

  • Official visitors and dignitaries
  • Media and production crews.

Exams 

Schools must implement COVID-Safe arrangements for exams to minimise mingling between students.

HSC specific advice will be provided to schools by NESA.

Further advice will be issued on delivery of opportunity class exams.

Boarding schools  

Boarding Schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines. Further advice will be issued for Boarding Schools once finalised with NSW Health later this week.

Preschools managed by the Catholic sector

Families should follow normal sign in/out procedures and COVID safe guidelines when dropping off and picking up. 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 entrance of the preschool, following COVID-safe guidelines.

As per the broader health advice, early childhood staff are exempt from wearing face masks when they are working directly with children. However, staff are recommended to wear masks or face coverings otherwise, whenever indoors.


Term 3 COVID-19 advice for schools


Interstate arrangements

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 they must comply with the self-isolation and testing requirements as directed by the relevant Health Department.

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

Please note that there are no changes for staff and students who are crossing the NSW/VIC border to work and learn.

There may be some disruption for students and staff crossing interstate borders if they have been to a ‘hotspot’ in NSW.

Visit the travel to and from NSW page for detailed advice on border restrictions.

Vaccination advice

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout is currently progressing through its identified phases. Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccination is listed on the Australian Government website. This includes people over 50 years of age.

Everyone aged 40 and over, or match the eligibility criteria because of their job, health issues or if they are caring for a vulnerable person, can now get vaccinated.

Book an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Further information on the phased COVID-19 vaccination rollout is available on the NSW Government website.

A reminder for all schools and families

It is important that schools and families continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines outlined on this page. In particular CSNSW wishes to highlight the following:

  • Students should not attend school if unwell, even with mild symptoms of COVID-19. Any person with any COVID-19 symptoms should be sent home and should not return until they have received a negative 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. Locations of testing clinics are available via the NSW government website.
  • Schools must continue to implement:
    • Personal hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and record keeping practices.
    • Where possible to use outdoor areas weather permitting or large open spaces to enable adequate physical distancing.
    • All visitors to a school site must be well and symptom free, comply with sign-in arrangements, and the 1.5m physical distancing requirements.
  • Visitors to schools should maintain 1.5m distance from other people where practicable. Avoid congestion of groups of visitors in specific areas where possible.
  • All visitors to a school site must comply with sign-in arrangements. This includes acknowledging 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. Parents and carers who are dropping off or picking up students do not need to sign in or use the Service NSW QR code.

Schools are 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 or advised by NSW Health as per Public Health order.

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


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.


Transport


Transport for NSW (TfNSW) intends to operate schools services as normal on the week commencing Monday, 12 July, so as to ensure they provide a service for any children of essential workers or other students that need to attend school.

Masks remain mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 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.


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