COVID-19 advice for parents, students and children
Advice for parents and carers on staying COVID-smart in schools and early childhood education services.
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.
Read more detail from NSW Education on COVID-19 advice for families.
Students and staff should continue to stay home when sick
Students, staff and visitors should only attend school when they are symptom-free. We strongly encourage all students, staff and visitors to follow the guidance issued by NSW Health.
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.
Parents must watch for COVID-19 symptoms
If your child is unwell – even with mild symptoms – please 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.
- Read more about when to get tested for COVID-19 and the changes to testing.
- Understand more about rapid antigen tests.
The NSW Government strongly encourages all students, staff and their families to get vaccinated.
Children aged 5 and older can 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.
- Book a vaccination or booster using the
healthdirect Service Finder.
- Read more about vaccination for children aged 5 to 11.
NSW Health and the Department of Education are encouraging all parents and carers to make sure their child’s vaccinations – including non-COVID vaccinations – are up-to-date.
Parents and carers who are unsure whether their child has missed any vaccinations should speak with their GP or refer to NSW Health’s Immunisation requirements in primary and secondary schools.
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.
Schools have been advised to maintain reserve stocks of rapid antigen tests for use in the event of an outbreak.
- 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.
- 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.
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 should continue to attend school in line with NSW Health advice.
Staff and students who get a positive rapid antigen test should 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.
Schools will regularly communicate to parents about the presence and impact of COVID-19 in their school community.
Parents should expect to be provided with any impacted year groups or cohorts.
- Read the NSW Health advice on when to isolate.
- Discover how to manage COVID-19 and access support.
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.
- Read the COVID-19 guidance on ventilation.
Masks are an effective way of minimising the transmission of respiratory diseases.
All students, staff and visitors to school sites are strongly encouraged to wear a mask, particularly when indoors or when physical distancing is not possible.
Masks continue to be required for staff and volunteers in Schools for Specific Purposes, support units and for workers who support our students who are at greater risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.
Find more information and 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 Education Parent 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.
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.