As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the health and safety of our school communities and continuing education of our students remain our highest priority.
The Federal and NSW Governments, along with the NSW Health and Education Departments, continue to advise Sydney Catholic Schools on the best measures to help reduce the risk of infection from COVID-19, consistent with the best information and medical knowledge available.
Their advice is premised on all schools and offices continuing to follow the Government guidelines on healthy hygiene, already in place in our schools.
Each of our 150 schools are being supported in all possible ways to respond to the needs of their communities.
We will follow the Prime Minister’s seven National Principles for Education and urge families to stay across this rapidly-changing situation via updates from their schools, and the Sydney Catholic Schools and NSW Health websites.
Last updated 7 August 2020
We will continue to follow government directives and their advice. At this time that continues to be that schools can remain open and to deliver face-to-face teaching in Term 3.
Closure of Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg & Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary in Bossley Park.
Sydney Catholic Schools can confirm a new positive COVID-19 case at Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg Heights and Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary in Bossley Park on the 29th of July. Neither student attending school between the initial closure and their positive test result.
As a precaution Sydney Catholic Schools have made the decision to close both schools until the 10th of August.
Both sites have undergone deep cleaning in line with government health advice and will engage in remote learning until the 10th of August.
The safety and well-being of staff and students is our key priority at all times, as such we will continue to work closely with NSW Health to ensure that all necessary heath advice is adhered to. You can read the media release here.
NSW Health has identified potential for spread for COVID-19 several locations.
NSW Health currently lists:
- Glebe, Jambo Jambo African Restaurant 31 July
- Hamilton, Bennett Hotel, 31 July
- Hamilton, Sydney Junction Hotel, 31 July
- Jesmond, Hotel Jesmond, 29 July
- Lambton, Lambton Park Hotel, 30 July
- Mount Pritchard, Mounties, 20-25 July
- New Lambton, Bar 88 West New Lambton, 2 August
- Newcastle, Hamilton to Adamstown Bus 26, 3 August
- Potts Point, The Apollo, 22-26 July
- Potts Point, Thai Rock Restaurant 15-25 July,
- St Leonards, Fitness First, 27 July
- Surry Hills, Hotel Harpoon (Harpoon Harry), 26 July
- Wallsensd, Wallsend Diggers, 29 & 30 July
An up to date list of all locations and directions can be found at NSW Health’s News & Updates page. This link also includes additional information on potential locations where it is advised visitors to watch for potential symptoms. Please follow the health advice listed there
The border between NSW & Victoria has been closed indefinitely. Anyone who has visited Victoria must not attend school until they have completed their mandatory 2 weeks hotel quarantine as mandated by NSW Health. Students who are unable to attend due to this isolation will be supported. In these circumstances please contact your school and speak to the Principal about the matter confidentially.
We encourage those within our community to follow the detailed public health advice for people who have travelled from Victoria and how to manage any COVID-19 risk.
COVID-19 & Boarding schools
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has advised that boarding can continue. Dr Chant has requested that any student that has been in Victoria or another hot spot undergo a COVID-19 test on or after day 10 of isolation. Students must obtain a negative COVID-19 result on or after day 10 of isolation. Students who have obtained that negative result and have completed the full 14 days of isolation can then enter the boarding school or college.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) guidelines as of 28 July 2020 do not require staff or students to wear masks. NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has stated that students and staff may wear a mask by choice.
Sydney Catholic Schools have all returned to regular face-to-face learning and will continue to do so for Term 3. Each school will have it’s own COVID plan in line with Government advice, local requirements, adequate physical space and available staff. The model will vary between schools, to allow for local circumstances and needs.
Your school’s plan
Each school will communicate with parents and carers. During this time, we ask you to be conscious that some of our staff are part of the vulnerable people category. Therefore, your child may have a different teacher during the transition phase.
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.
School students do not need to follow strict physical distancing guidelines applied to adults, but 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 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 remains in place for adults. 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.
There should be no visitors to school sites unless they are essential. Your school can provide guidance as to who is considered essential.
Canteens and uniform shops can open at the discretion of the Principal.
Out of school hours care can continue to operate.
Wherever possible, P&C, P&F and parent/carer/teacher meetings should be conducted online. Parents can not attend meetings, assemblies, working bees or other events on school grounds.
Travel to and from school
Transport for NSW has advised school students will be given priority access to public transport services. While public transport currently has restricted passenger numbers, this does not apply to school aged students. For more of travel advice refer to NSW public transport service
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.
All school sport and activities including competitions aligned with current health advice can return in Term 3. Inter-school sports may also resume. SCS will follow the advice of CSNSW, their latest information on sporting events can be found here
Inter School Events
Inter-school student events and competitions including choirs, debating, public speaking, performing arts and sports, among many others, may return in Term 3.
Masses & Liturgy
Mass & Liturgy can resume within schools in Term 3 provided they follow the most up to date government health advice and appropriate physical distancing advice.
Excursions, Incursions and School Camps
Incursions involving external adult providers maintaining distancing and hygiene aligned with the health advice of the day will be allowed in Term 3. School-based activities that involve large gatherings of adults are not permitted at this time.
Excursions are not to be undertaken given the current advice. There is a provision for Teachers and students to undergo a “field trip” for curriculum reasons as a class. A field trip involves the class visiting a “field” location, that does not include visiting a location with external adults. School Camps remain cancelled.
Practical Placements, VET and Work Experience
Students undergoing work experience, practicum teaching for tertiary education students, VET work placements can proceed, subject to the availability of placement and appropriate risk assessments.
Seven National Principles of Education
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a list of seven National Principles, regarding schools, that were agreed to by the National Cabinet on 16 April.
We will continue to work with the Federal and NSW Governments to enable students to have safe and effective learning environments. Our priority is the health and safety of pupils and staff, our schools will continue to remain open.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Alternatively complete and return the fee relief application below.
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.
We ask everyone to be conscious of the health of others. Staff and students are being urged to remain at home if they have cold and flu symptoms. If a student or family member tests positive to COVID-19 they are requested to contact their school principal as a matter of urgency.
School events, excursions and assemblies
SCS is following the advice of the federal government and adopting social distancing measures. All non-essential mass gatherings are cancelled.
These include assemblies, ‘incursions’, conferences or other similar events. Where an event cannot be postponed or cancelled, modifications will be undertaken to ensure the safety of staff, students and parents.
Domestic school excursions have been cancelled to avoid the risk posed by mass gatherings and traveling, particularly on public transport or aircraft. Incursions are also on hold to maintain appropriate social distancing.
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:
- Child Mind Institute: ‘Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus’
- Unicef Australia: ‘How to talk to your children about coronavirus (COVID-19)’
- Australian Psychology Society: Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
- Psychology Today: ‘ How to talk to kids and teens’
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
Information regarding coronavirus is changing daily. The latest information from NSW Health can be accessed via the following links.
NSW Department of Health – Coronavirus alerts: general
NSW Department of Health – Coronavirus: FAQs
NSW Department of Health – Coronavirus alerts: schools and early children centres, parents and students
World Health Organisation – global updates
DFAT Smart Traveller