Return to School COVID-Safe Guidelines

Sydney Catholic Schools is looking forward to the return of our students and the start of 2021 and continues to follow all NSW Health advice on the best measures to help reduce any risk of infection from COVID-19 in our schools.

The NSW Government has released updated COVID-safe guidelines for schools for the start of Term 1. Below is a summary of some of the new rules for your information:

Parent drop-off for new students

To support the settling of young students into a new school environment at the start of the year, parents and carers with children from Kindergarten to Year 2 and participating in Year 7 orientation activities can walk their child to class and pick up students from class, providing physical distance is maintained. Parents and carers can also enter the school to purchase or pick up uniforms.

Parents of students outside of these year groups are to continue to use the designated drop off areas, maintain social distancing, and not enter the school grounds unless they have express permission from the School Principal, such as for ‘meet the teacher’ meetings.

Facemasks
Face masks are not required to be worn within school grounds, however staff and students may do so if they wish.

All staff and students over 12 years of age must ensure they wear masks when travelling on public transport (or chartered/private transport) to and from school.

COVID-19 Symptoms

All parents and carers are reminded that students must not attend school if they are unwell, even with the mildest of symptoms. Students must return a negative COVID-19 test and be symptom-free before returning to school. Further information on the above, and other measures and requirements our schools have in place in line with the NSW Government guidelines, can be obtained from your child’s School or College Principal.

You can also view the latest NSW Health advice on their website here

Last updated 16 February 2021

NSW Health Identified COVID-19 Case Locations

NSW Health has an up-to-date list of locations that have the potential to have spread COVID-19, this can be found at NSW Health’s News & Updates page. If you have been to one of these locations please follow the health advice listed there.

Anyone arriving in NSW from Victoria after 11.59pm on Friday 12 February 2021 must remain at their home or place of residence for the five-day period announced by the Victorian Government. The date previously advised has been updated following advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer. Members of our community who have been in these areas are asked to provide a negative COVID-19 test result upon their return to school following their 5 day lockdown.

Students who are unable to attend school in these circumstances will be supported. If you are in this situation, please contact your school and speak to the Principal about the matter confidentially.

Increased Meeting Participants

Schools will be able to conduct staff and community meetings in an outdoor setting with up to 50 people in attendance (up from 30). Meetings conducted indoors for schools in Greater Sydney remain limited to 30 people. Schools in all other regional and rural locations may have up to 50 people meeting indoors or 100 people outdoors. All meetings must also aligns with the 1 per per 4 square meter rules.

Open Days

Schools can commence planning for Open Days following the advise from the Functions and Conferences COVID-19 Safety Plan. More information on exact dates will be updated once they are confirmed.

Changes to facemask requirements during Singing Musical Activity & Creative Arts

Face masks are no longer recommended for audience members over 12 years old when singing or chanting outdoors.

Year 11 and 12 assessment
NESA has confirmed the HSC will go ahead in 2020.

The authority’s COVID-19 Response Committee has cancelled mandatory HSC group performance exams for Drama and Music Extension and will modify other performance exams to maintain social distancing requirements. Vocational Education and Training (VET) students are no longer required to undertake NESA work placements.

NESA is now considering advice on major projects for Visual Arts, Design and Technology, Industrial Technology, Textiles and Design, English Extension 2 and Society and Culture and will provide this in the coming week.

NESA advice on school work and assessment for Year 11 and 12 students affected by COVID-19 can be found here.

HSC and Major Projects to proceed in 2020

The National Education Standards Authority (NESA) has released the following information about the 2020 HSC.

Written exams
HSC written exams will proceed, so students should continue to focus on their studies and preparation.
Results are scheduled to be released in mid-December as originally planned.
The HSC written exam timetable is available here

Major projects and bodies of work
The marking process has been changed for major projects for Technologies and Visual Arts.
Students will have an extra two weeks to work on their projects, and the marks for the practical component will be provided by their teachers. Portfolios will be marked externally, as normal.

Information on Major Projects, Portfolios, Performances, research Reports and Bodies of work are available here

Disability provisions for exams
Schools can apply now for disability provisions for students based on the evidence they already have and update the application later with additional evidence.

Read NESA’s media release here

Continuity of learning
Our schools are committed to facilitating continued learning for students despite interruptions to normal school attendance.
While our schools remain open, rest assured we are working on contingencies should circumstances change.

Each Sydney Catholic school is developing a plan for remote learning, taking into consideration students’ needs, the length of the interruption and the technology and other tools available for teachers, students and parents. We are walking with you in these uncertain times and remain committed to your child’s ongoing education.

Parents can access frequently asked questions about remote learning for more information.

Online etiquette
During remote learning situations we ask parents to be conscious of the social protocols around various home learning platforms. It’s important parents remind their children that expected behaviours in the ‘virtual classroom’ are the same as those in the real world.

This guide to Zoom for parents aims to help you maintain the wellbeing of your child while learning online.

NAPLAN cancelled
The NSW Department of Education has announced NAPLAN testing has been cancelled for 2020. The tests had been planned for mid-May. NAPLAN will resume again in 2021.

Sydney Catholic Schools Performing Arts (CaSPA)
The CaSPA program has moved online where possible, with a range of creative resources our students can access to build their skills in music, dance, and drama. Performance squads are postponed until 2021.

Covid-19 Fee Assistance

If you require school fee relief due to COVID-19, contact the school principal or confidentially contact the Sydney Catholic Schools Fee Support team on (02) 9568 8198 or email feesupport@syd.catholic.edu.au. Alternatively complete and return the fee relief application below.

School Fee Support Application

Sydney Catholic Schools monitors the information about coronavirus provided by our governments and their departments daily, and we regularly assess our risk mitigation strategies to ensure we have plans in place to protect everyone in our school communities.

Our schools continue to operate with increased vigilance around hygiene. SCS has created quick tips which can be printed and placed around classrooms and homes. The World Health Organisation has produced detailed advice on the prevention of COVID-19.

Flu-like and Other COVID-19 Symptoms

Any staff member or student exhibiting flu like symptoms or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 must not attend school. If they exhibit symptoms while at school they are to be sent home. Once symptoms occur any staff and students must undergo and COVID-19 test and not return to school until they can provide proof of a negative test to their school officials.

If a student or family member tests positive to COVID-19 they are requested to contact their school principal as a matter of urgency and they must complete a full 14 days self-isolation quarantine as advised by NSW Health. A list of News & Updates is available from NSW Health, we ask out communities to follow any advice or guidelines given there

Health and Safety
Schools will minimise the number of non-essential adults on-site by developing clear pick-up and drop-off protocols and restricting access to the school site. This will help to protect our staff and ensure they are available to work with your children. We will also continue to restrict access to play equipment, bubblers and canteen facilities where appropriate.
All our schools will continue to be hyper-vigilant with regards to personal hygiene and the cleanliness of the school site, particularly around high-traffic areas. We ask all parents to please keep their children at home if they are unwell. This will augment the consistent government and health advice that students are at very low risk of contracting COVID-19 at school.

Students should follow good hygiene practices like:

  • regularly washing hands
  • avoiding sharing drinks or food
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or a tissue which should be discarded immediately

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing of children in schools is not required under the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) guidelines. Research has shown limited transmission risk associated with school children in the school environment. To help reduce the risks students will be kept within year cohorts where appropriate.

Physical distancing remains in place for adults. Currently this stands at 1 person per 4 square meters, up to a maximum of 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. All adults must maintain physical distance from each other (1.5m) including teachers, support staff and parents. Schools should limit the number of staff in common staff rooms or in large staff meetings, and avoid shared items as much as possible.

Parental Attendance & Visiting School Grounds

Parents are not allowed on schools grounds outside essential meetings, canteen or uniform shop duty, education support roles or to meet with school staff by organised appointment only.

Other community social events or functions, fundraisers, fetes and barbecues are not permitted at this time. Any gather of adults must comply with government prescribed Public Health Orders.

There should be no visitors to school sites unless they are considered essential. Your school can provide guidance as to who is considered essential.

Out of school hours care can continue to operate.

Facemasks

On the 18th of January 2021 the NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell and Catholic Schools New South Wales confirmed facemasks are not required by  staff or students on school grounds. If staff or students wish to wear a mask they may choose to do so.

All staff and students over 12 years of age must ensure they wear masks when travelling on public transport (or chartered/private transport) to and from school.

Facemasks remain required on all public transport, including travel to and from school. Please follow the current information on masks on the NSW Health advice of face masks.

Travel to and from school

Transport NSW has advised school students will be given priority access to public transport services. Students and staff are advised to sanitise before and after entering public transport and wear a mask at all times while travelling on public transport. In cases where public transport has restricted passenger numbers, this will not apply to school-aged students. For more of travel advice refer to NSW public transport service

All staff and students over 12 years of age must ensure they wear masks when travelling on public transport (or chartered/private transport) to and from school.

Parent and carers who wish to perform a school pick up and drop off will need to follow individual school arrangements. Any parent or adult performing drop off or pick up must follow 1.5m physical distancing requirements. Parents and carers should not be on school grounds or at school events without the Principal’s express permission.

Gatherings

Schools will be able to conduct staff and community meetings provided they follow the rule for 1 person per 4 square meters, up to a maximum of 50 people in an outdoor setting (up from 30). Meetings conducted indoors must also follow the 4 square meter rule, however they remain limited to 30 people maximum.

Music & Singing

Singing and chanting is considered a high transmission risk. For this reason in secondary schools indoor singing groups are limited to 5 total performers. There is no cap on outdoor events or for primary schools. All performing sings should be faced forward, socially distanced 1.5m apart and at least 5m from audiences, conductors or any other non-performers.

Religious services are limited to a maximum of 5 performers who follow the same guidelines prescribed for other indoor events.

Face masks are no longer recommended for audience members over 12 years old when singing or chanting outdoors.

Sport 

All inter school sport and physical activities, zone carnivals and gala days can continue. If the school is using a local sports ground, pool or community facility the school needs to have exclusive usage and follow the venue’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

SCS will follow the advice of CSNSW, and their latest information on sporting events can be found here

School Carnivals

Carnivals can be organised provded there is a COVID-Safe plan in place. Students must stay within their cohort group. Venue operators must provide exclusive access to the facilities being used. Parental attendance is determined by the government regulations and the COVID-Safe plan

Inter School Events 

Inter school student events and competitions including debating, public speaking, performing arts and sports are permitted.

Parents functions, parent and care giver attendance, non-essential providers and mixing of schools when not participating are not allowed at this time. Schools are asked to limit year group and cohort mixing where possible.

Practical Placements, VET and Work Experience

Students undergoing work experience, practicum teaching for tertiary education students, VET work placements, can proceed with these activities subject to the availability of placement and appropriate risk assessments.

Excursions, Incursions and School Camps

Excursions, field trips and camps can only take place within NSW borders or to ACT following the restriction guidelines.

Masses & Liturgy

Mass and Liturgy must follow the most up to date government health advice for religious gatherings and appropriate physical distancing advice.
Gatherings are currently limited to 1 person per 4 square meters up to a maximum of 30 people unless a COVID-Safe plan has been lodged for the event. If a performance is to take place it must comply with the rules around singing and chanting.

Interstate Travellers & Border Restrictions

We encourage our community members to follow NSW Health’s travel advice page for the most up to date information of border rules.

Your school’s plan
Each school will communicate with their parents and carers. During this time, we ask you to be conscious that some staff may be part of the vulnerable people category. Therefore, your child may have a different teacher during the transition phase.

COVID-19 Response

All of our schools have measures in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus, and we continue to be guided by, and follow, NSW Health advice.  This includes having implemented COVID-19 plans and being ready to respond quickly to any change in circumstances. We will continue to follow government directives and their advice.

If you show any symptoms, do not attend school and get a COVID-19 test. Students and staff who display symptoms at school will be sent home and required to get a COVID-19 test. Staff and students should only return to school when they have received a negative COVID-19 test result and their symptoms have resolved. Confirmation of the negative COVID-19 test result must be received and sighted by the school. Negative test results are communicated by NSW Health through SMS notifications.

As coronavirus continues to impact our daily lives, we believe it is vital to address any concerns for the mental and emotional health of our school communities. Sydney Catholic Schools has highly effective student support structures and resources in place to help build students’ resilience. These may also assist to alleviate any anxiety or concerns related to COVID-19 and its impact. They include:

  • counsellors who provide skilled, student and family centred support in all primary and secondary schools. CatholicCare counsellors offer much of this support. Plans for the provision of remote services are currently being developed.
  • highly-trained student wellbeing personnel who continue to provide support to our schools.

Children and young people, while not considered to be in a high risk category, may be exposed to news reports, social media and general discussions about the unfolding events. Parent resources are available to help guide the conversation around coronavirus.

Federal Government NBN assistance for families

The Federal Government has announced a $150 million dollar package to help families and businesses access the National Broadband Network (NBN) during COVID-19. $50 million of this is specifically allocated towards families with children in school.

“This package is targeted at supporting low-income households that have school-aged children, and provides financial hardship relief for residential customers and small and medium sized businesses,” said finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

The scheme will see NBN Co waive it’s $37 monthly wholesale charge, which is opt in via internet service providers.

“This is intended to help make education accessible to all Australian students who are home schooling in response to social distancing measures,” said Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.

For more information on NBN Co’s financial relief measures visit: www.nbnco.com.au.

Talking to your child about COVID-19

School.tv has released a helpful short video that details how to talk to your child about the pandemic. Other resources to guide the conversation:

For advice on maintaining positive mental health, Beyond Blue, Headspace and Reachout are all reliable sources. The Smiling Mind app is a free tool to promote mindfulness and also includes information on how to support children in times of crisis.

Support is also available through the following phone counselling services:

  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
  • CatholicCare’s Parentline  – 1300 1300 52, and Careline on 13 18 19
  • Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511

General inquiries and translation services

A 24-hour Service NSW hotline is available to help people with any difficulties during the COVID-19 period.
For assistance, phone 13 77 88. For free help in your language, call Translating and Interpreting Services on 13 14 50 and ask them to contact the Service NSW hotline on your behalf.

Remote learning resources