The COVID smart plan for keeping students learning face to face at school during Term 2 has been announced by the NSW Government today.
Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the NSW Government is taking a common sense approach to winter school settings and is well prepared to manage potential increases in cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in schools.
“School is where our students learn best and we need to do everything we can to make sure that face to face learning continues with minimal disruption as we move into the colder months,” Ms Mitchell said.
“The removal of isolation requirements for household contacts will support continuity of teaching and learning in schools.”
In line with the updated rules for the general community, teachers and students who are household contacts, but do not have COVID-19 or any symptoms, can return to school. 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 five 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.
Families and school staff can expect another drop of free rapid antigen tests (RATs) early this term to support compliance with these new settings.
“The Department is taking extra steps to ensure accredited teachers are available to cover sick leave where needed, with non-school based teachers, retired teachers and final year teacher education students continuing to be deployed into classrooms as needed,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Recruitment of teaching staff into non-school based roles will be paused and work will be taken off schools’ plates so they can focus on core teaching and learning.
“Schools will continue keeping windows and doors open wherever it is safe and practical to do so, because we know fresh air is an effective way to keep airborne viruses out.
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 and providing resources for school principals on recommended ventilation practices.
The winter plan continues the targeted approach taken in Term 1 2022. A school-level outbreak of COVID-19 may trigger the Department 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.