COVID-19 advice for parents, students and children

Advice for parents and carers on staying COVID smart in schools and early childhood education care. 

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Term 2 2022 COVID smart measures for schools 

Being together in a classroom is the most effective way for students to learn and grow.

Since COVID-19 remains a relatively mild illness for most children, the NSW Government is committed to school safety in 2022.

Read more detail from NSW Education on COVID-19 advice for families.

New COVID-19 settings in NSW

From 22 April 2022, there are updated COVID-19 settings.

Household contacts are required to follow the NSW Health household and close contact guidelines for 7 days from the last time someone in their household tested positive to COVID-19.

In line with the updated rules for the general community, teachers and students who are household contacts, but do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, can return to school.

Attending school if a student is a household contact

To return to school, all staff and students must notify the school that they are a household contact and do the following for the next 5 school days:

  • All staff and students should do a daily rapid antigen test before school.
  • All staff and secondary school students must wear a face mask indoors.
  • Primary school students are strongly recommended to wear a face mask indoors.

Based on expert advice, the NSW Government has made a record investment in equipping schools with additional air quality measures, including:

  • Providing air purifiers in colder climates
  • Installing mechanical ventilation
  • Checking air conditioners and heaters
  • Providing resources for school principals on recommended ventilation practices.

Outbreaks of COVID-19

A school-level outbreak of COVID-19 may trigger the Department of Education to direct the school to adopt one or more of the following additional COVID-smart measures for a short period of time:

  • Ceasing large indoor gatherings
  • Ceasing off-site and inter-school activities
  • Mask wearing for adults and high school students
  • Limiting visitors to schools
  • Separating cohorts of students
  • Symptomatic use of RATs
  • Learning from home.

Schools, students and families will also be reminded about essential hygiene practices and to stay at home if they are unwell.

The winter plan continues the targeted approach taken in Term 1 2022.

Parents must watch for COVID-19 symptoms

If your child is unwell – even with mild symptoms – you must keep them home and get them tested.

If children have any symptoms, they should take a COVID-19 test.

If symptoms continue your child should stay home and take another COVID-19 test.

If that test is also negative, your child may return to school if another diagnosis is confirmed such as hay fever.

Vaccinations

The NSW Government strongly encourage all students and their families to get vaccinated.

Read more about vaccination requirements for education and care workers.

Children aged 5 and older can now get the COVID-19 vaccine. Parents are encouraged to book their child in for a vaccination at the first available opportunity.

Once eligible, all adults are encouraged to get a booster vaccine.

It is also recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. The flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be given together at the same time.

Although the symptoms are similar, flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. It is important to protect yourself and the community from both illnesses.

Testing with rapid antigen tests

Remember: Staff and students cannot attend school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

If symptoms occur at any time, your child should not attend school and should undertake a rapid antigen test.

Additional rapid antigen testing kits will also be sent out to ECE services to support symptomatic testing for ECE staff.

Students and staff can use their allocation of rapid antigen tests at their discretion such as if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Beyond the departmental provision of rapid antigen tests, symptomatic students and staff should continue to access PCR and store-purchased rapid antigen tests.

  • If a student is unwell and has any symptoms they should always test for COVID-19.
  • If the test is negative for COVID-19, the student should still not return to school until either:
    • The student no longer has any symptoms, or
    • A medical certificate is provided to the school confirming that symptoms are explained by another diagnosis (such as hay fever).
  • It is important that students do not attend school if they are unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19.
  • Rapid antigen tests can produce false negative results and symptoms of other illnesses can also be similar to COVID-19, including flu, the common cold and stomach bugs.
  • Health advice is that students who are sick should always stay home to rest and recover and avoid putting other students and staff at risk of getting sick.

It is recommended that students and staff that return to school after recovering from COVID-19 do not participate in rapid antigen testing for 12 weeks following release from self-isolation unless they develop new COVID-19 symptoms.

This is due to NSW Health advice that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have a low risk of contracting it again in the following 12 weeks after release from self-isolation.

Students and staff may receive a nasal or saliva rapid antigen testing kit from their school.

All rapid antigen testing kits contain instructions on how to use the tests, check results and dispose of the tests safely.

Parents, carers and staff can also download user guides of the relevant test they have received through the Therapeutic Goods Administration website.

The user guides contain a contact number for the suppliers for additional support. People using saliva testing kits must not eat or drink for 30 minutes before taking the saliva rapid antigen test, to give more accurate results.

COVID-19 positive cases

If your child has no symptoms and there is a positive case in their class, year or other grouping, they can continue to attend school in line with NSW Health advice.

Staff and students who get a positive rapid antigen test must register it through Service NSW as soon as possible.

Staff and students who receive a positive rapid antigen test must tell their school as soon as possible and follow NSW Health advice for testing positive to COVID-19 and managing COVID-19 safely at home.

Schools will regularly communicate to parents about the presence and impact of COVID-19 in their community.

Parents should expect to be provided with any impacted year groups or cohorts.

Ventilation

Fresh air is the most effective form of ventilation to minimise the risk of transmission. 

All learning spaces in public schools have been checked to ensure appropriate levels of ventilation and air purifiers have been provided where needed.

Using outdoor spaces will continue to be encouraged.

Masks

Masks may be required in schools if directed.

Students or staff who are an asymptomatic household contact and taking daily rapid antigen tests  must wear a face mask indoors.

It's strongly recommended that children under 12 also wear a face mask indoors.

Read the face mask rules in NSW and the guidance for using face masks.

Keeping schools open

Parents are asked to respect the rules at their child's school to help keep the community safe.

Schools will do everything they can to maintain continuity of face-to-face learning including the use of more casual staff.

Schools will need to make localised staffing decisions to ensure appropriate supervision can be maintained.

Schools will not be able to guarantee particular staff for any cohort and students may not have their regular teacher for a class.

 

School or childcare centre closure

Some schools may need to close occasionally to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks, deep cleaning or other emergencies like floods or fires. 

The NSW School Updates app sends parents and carers notifications about school closures. 

Contact childcare centres, preschools, kindergartens and other early childhood care settings directly for the latest updates. 

Download the Schools Update app

NSW Government logo

Schools Update

The Schools Update app will notify you if your child’s public school is to be closed the following day due to COVID-19 outbreaks, adverse weather, bushfire, emergencies or other incidents.

You can register multiple schools on the app.

Book your vaccination

Children aged 5 and over are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, book an appointment near you.

Early childhood education and childcare

NSW Department of Education COVID-19 guidelines are available for early childhood education and care services like playgroups, kindergartens and childcare.

Parents can help their children feel safer at school and childcare by:

  • correctly explaining what COVID-19 is and how it’s transmitted
  • explaining how children can wash their hands, use masks and physical distance
  • showing them how to cough or sneeze into their elbow.

Read the Australian Government advice about how COVID-19 affects early childhood education and care services.

Read more about Early childhood education and care (ECEC) COVID-19 guidance for families.

 

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