News | April 22, 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.

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.

Affected schools

There are currently no schools temporarily closed today due to novel coronavirus (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

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 is that the following persons are to be excluded from schools

  • have been in or transited through China within the last 14 days
  • have been in or transited though Iran within the last 14 days commencing 1 March 2020
  • have been in or transited through the Republic of Korea (South Korea) commencing 5 March 2020
  • have been in or transited through Italy commencing 11 March
  • have been travelling overseas and arrive in Australia from 16 March
  • have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 or
  • are confirmed as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 by NSW Health

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.

Return to School:Term Two

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions & answers for parents, teachers and students about the return to school for Term Two.

Q) Is my child’s health in danger by sending them to school?

A) Catholic Schools in NSW remain safe environments for both students and teachers. Regular cleaning, increased hygiene practices amongst students and teachers as well as social distancing measures are all contributing to your child’s advanced wellbeing.

Q) Are there measures in place to protect teachers from becoming infected with COVID-19 in the workplace?

A) Less students in school allows for smaller class sizes. Staggered start and finish times for periods and for recess and lunch also assist with social distancing. Staff are also being advised to not congregate in staffrooms and similar areas of the school. Students and staff are also being provided increased supplies of hand sanitiser and soaps.

Q) Can we have confirmation that schools are remaining open for children of essential services workers from Monday?

A) Catholic Schools in NSW will continue to remain open at all school operational times for families who need to send their children to school.

Q) What date can we expect our kids to go back to school?

A) Catholic education will use term two to transition to in-school delivery of learning, subject to the ongoing health advice and the wellbeing of our students and staff. It is envisaged the first two weeks of Term Two will mirror the end of Term One with out of-school learning continuing. Thereafter, judgements and decisions at a school and System level will be put in place to allow for the continued assessment of the needs of their students. The senior secondary years, year 11 and 12, will have their circumstances considered as a priority and are likely candidates for an earlier return to school.

Q) Can we choose to continue to home school or do we have to send our kids back?

A) Parents will continue to be informed at a school and system level as to when the determination has been made that students should return to face-to-face learning in a full-time capacity. There is currently no obligation to send your child back to school and students will not be punished academically for not learning via the face-to-face method.

Advice on school closures for non-government schools

The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian asked parents to keep their children at home if possible, to contain the spread of coronavirus. Catholic schools have remained opened and are supporting families of essential works. Many schools are delivering learning activities remotely using online tools.  If schools do not have digital or online options, they will use non-digital strategies. This could include sending worksheets, text books or USB drives containing digital worksheets (where available) and videos to your home with your child or via mail.

NESA advice

Catholic Schools NSW is continuing to work closely with NESA to ensure a continuity of learning for students, along with ongoing safety and health of students, teachers and parents.

NESA are updating this advice daily and as circumstances change, in line with NSW Government announcements. NESA’s current advice is below.

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 handwashing 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