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COVID Safe schools, universities and childcare

Information for childcare centres, schools, universities, TAFE, and education providers in NSW about making classrooms and workplaces COVID-19 safe.

COVID-19 updates and guidance

Find out about the COVID-19 safety measures at NSW schools. 

Learn more about COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

If you are a student, parent or carer please refer to the information for students and families.

The information below is for education providers and staff.

Suggested checklist to keep your workplace safe

  • Exclude staff and customers who are unwell from the premises.
  • Provide staff with information and training on COVID-19, including when to get tested, physical distancing and cleaning.
  • Make staff aware of their leave entitlements if they are sick or required to self-isolate.
  • Display conditions of entry (website, social media, venue entry).

  • Normal infection control and hygiene measures should be followed. These include encouraging regular washing of hands and cleaning of musical instruments, learning and sporting equipment between uses.
  • Students should bring water bottles from home to fill at water bubblers rather than drink by mouth.
  • Encourage good handwashing and hygiene especially where there is face-to-face programs or in small spaces (like laboratories). 
  • Provide hand sanitiser at multiple locations throughout the campus.
  • Clean surfaces thoroughly particularly all high contact areas such as doors, handles, kitchen surfaces, bathroom surfaces, printers and lifts with appropriate cleaning agents.
  • Ensure bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels.
  • Clean frequently used areas at least daily with detergent or disinfectant. Clean frequently touched areas and surfaces several times per day.
  • Maintain disinfectant solutions at an appropriate strength and use in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Staff are to wear gloves when cleaning and wash hands thoroughly before and after with soap and water.
  • Take all the actions recommended for a healthy workplace.
  • Ensure the highest hygiene practices among food handlers.
  • Ensure infection control and routine environmental cleaning procedures are in place.
  • If there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, the childcare service or education provider should follow existing protocols for cleaning and disinfection for outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness/gastroenteritis.

School students

School students do not need to follow strict adult physical distancing guidelines but should follow good hygiene practices.

Physical distancing of children in schools is not required by the latest AHPPC guidelines. Research has shown limited transmission risk associated with school children in the school environment.


Physical distancing requirements remain for adults. 

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

Schools should limit the number of staff in common staffrooms or in large staff meetings, and avoid shared items as much as possible.

Staff should exercise good hygiene and cleanliness around staff spaces and shared usage areas.

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

Some schools already run split recess and lunch breaks. Schools may wish to adopt this practice at it will help manage staff access to facilities such as canteens, staff rooms and toilets.

  • Identify a space that can be used to isolate students and staff who become sick.
  • Actively encourage sick children/students and staff to stay at home.
  • Promote the annual influenza vaccine for staff, students and their families.
  • Alert your agency or department about large increases in student and staff absenteeism due to flu-like illnesses.
  • If a child or staff member becomes ill while they are at the service, they should be sent home as soon as possible. While awaiting collection by their carer, ideally, the symptomatic child should be cared for in an area that is separated from other children at the service. This is to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
  • Contact your public health unit immediately on 1300 066 055 if you are notified that a child or staff member at your service has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • Develop a process to rapidly communicate with staff (including casual workers), visitors, families and your local public health unit.
  • Keep students, parents and staff informed of the actions you are taking.
  • Stay up to date with information on COVID-19 for schools, childcare and parents provided by the Department of EducationCatholic Schools NSW and NSW Health.

Information and resources for NSW public school-based staff are available on the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 hub, which can be accessed using your Education log-in details.

This site includes links to practical guidelines and advice on the following key topics to help principals and school-based staff safely operate their school, deliver quality education and connect students in a safe environment:

  • Return to full-time face-to-face learning guidelines
  • Guidelines for staff returning to work
  • Employment Guarantee for Casual Teachers
  • Response protocols for COVID-19 cases
  • Physical distancing - practical guide for staff
  • COVID-19 poster placement guide
  • Essential hygiene supplies
  • Cleaning to support the managed return to school
  • Guidelines for boarding schools
  • Community use of schools facilities
  • Advice on student attendance and roll marking

If school staff have any other concerns or need additional advice and support, they should speak to their principal and Director, Educational Leadership.

The Children’s Guardian has extended all WWCC clearances that were due to expire between 26 March 2020 and 26 September 2020 for a further 6 months.

Find out more details at Service NSW.

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) released the guidelines for schools to conduct a COVID-19 safe examination setting. 

Schools are required to

  • have a contingency plan along with an alternative location for exams in the case where the original location needs to be closed
  • have processes in place to screen students for flu-like symptoms before sitting an exam in accordance with advice from NSW Health
  • have processes in place to notify students of any changes to their exam including relocating to the alternative location if required
  • have processes to support students in lodging a COVID-19 illness and misadventure application in cases where
    • students are sent home during an exam due to having flu-like symptoms
    • students are unable to sit exams due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 impacting a school including when a student is tested or diagnosed with COVID-19 and is then required to self-isolate as a result.

Schools need to communicate directly with HSC students to prepare them for the HSC exams.

Read the full COVID-19 information for schools operating HSC written exams from the NSW Education Standards Authority.


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