Information for parents and guardians
Students should attend school unless:
- they have a medical certificate which states that they are unable to return to school due to an ongoing medical condition and the expected timeframe
- they are currently unwell.
Advice from NSW Health is that parents and carers should not send children to school if they are unwell, even if they have the mildest flu-like symptoms. Schools will make arrangements for students who are unwell or have flu-like symptoms to be sent home.
Anyone who is unwell or has even mild flu-like symptoms should have a COVID test through their local medical practitioner or one of the COVID-19 clinics.
Students and staff with flu-like symptoms will need to provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result before being permitted to return to school.
Students who live with a family member in one of the categories identified as being at increased risk, should attend school unless a medical practitioner advises otherwise. The parent or carer should provide written confirmation from the treating health professional that the student is unable to attend school.
How physical distancing is being managed at school
- Physical distancing of students in schools is not required under the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) guidelines.
- All teachers, support staff and parents must maintain 1.5 metres physical distance from each other.
- Parents should ensure school pick up and drop off arrangements enable them to physically distance from one another and from staff.
- COVID Safe Check-in is required for families at all NSW public schools from Term 1 2021.
- Gatherings of parents and/or community members for school events (such as working bees or P&C meetings) must comply with the gathering limits prescribed by the public health orders.
Notification of confirmed cases at your child's school
If your child or any other household member receives a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, please advise the school.
Protocols are in place where NSW Health immediately notify a school when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school-age student or a member of staff.
All confirmed cases are immediately assessed by the department and NSW Health to determine whether the student, staff or school community member has been infectious while at school, and to determine the appropriate course of action required to minimise the risk to the wider community.
Key actions include:
- contact tracing to identify all close contacts to a confirmed case. In some instances, this may require closing the school while the contact tracing process is completed
- communication with parents advising them whether their child has been in close contact with a confirmed case
- thorough cleaning of the school site to ensure the environment is clean and safe prior to the school resuming onsite learning.
Information for schools
NSW Health requires schools to:
- exclude students and staff with even mild symptoms of COVID-19
- encourage immediate testing for any symptomatic child(ren) or staff
- prohibit return to school for anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 until a negative COVID test result has been provided. In circumstances where children have other medical reasons for recurrent symptoms a letter from the GP is sufficient to negate the requirement for a negative test
- ensure visitors, staff, parents and students regularly review the latest COVID-19 locations in NSW (and interstate). Remind attendees to check the locations list as a routine part of interschool sporting activities, excursions, overnight camps and entry to boarding facilities
- have COVID-19 Safety Plans and record keeping procedures in place for school events
- promote physical distancing for staff and adults within the school, at school events and at drop off / pick up
- minimise mixing of student groups (class, year group, or stage) to limit close contacts where practicable
- support school-based access for NSW Health services including immunisation and dental programs.
Singing guidance for primary and secondary
Singing groups have no upper capacity limit. This includes for singing activities, group repetition, chanting and recitation. Five metres of distance is recommended between performers and the audience.
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 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 Education, Catholic 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.
Working With Children Checks due to expire between 19 July 2021 and 26 January 2022 have been extended for three months.
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.
- School swimming carnivals are permitted.
- Students should stay within their class, year group, or stage during the carnival to limit close contacts.
- All teachers, support staff and other adults must maintain 1.5 metres physical distance from each other where possible.
- If high school students are expected to sing, chant or cheer as part of the event, then all spectators should wear masks while in the grandstand or other seating areas.
- Pool operators should close the pool and spectator area to the general public while a school carnival is taking place unless there is clear delineation across separate areas of the facility.
- The number of parents attending should be determined by considering the capacity of the venue. As a general rule, venues should aim for 25% of indoor seated capacity or 50% of outdoor seated capacity in spectator areas.
- Except for physical distancing for students and record keeping, pool operators should comply with the COVID-19 Safety Plan for gyms and indoor recreation.
Preschool and childcare
Find an early childhood education and care service during the COVID-19 pandemic by calling 1800 291 041 from 9am to 5pm (AEST), Monday-Friday (excluding public holidays).
Helpline operators will provide advice for families about early childhood education and care services available in their area during the pandemic.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is delivering the helpline on behalf of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
For information on funding and support available for early childhood education and care services during COVID-19, plus information on business arrangements visit the NSW Department of Education website.
Hand sanitiser safety and children
Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is dangerous if ingested, particularly for children.
- store hand sanitiser products safely and out of reach of children
- any use by young children should be under the supervision of an adult
- be aware of imported products which may not be clearly labelled and may contain more toxic alcohols such as methanol that make the product more dangerous
- washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is a safe and effective option
- if you suspect a child has ingested hand sanitiser, regardless of the quantity, call the 24 hour Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for first aid and monitoring advice. Have the container of the ingested product with you.
Download the Schools Update app
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.