COVID-Safe Guidelines

Sydney Catholic Schools continues to follow all NSW Health advice on the best measures to help reduce any risk of infection from COVID-19 in our schools.

Below is a summary of some of the new rules for your information.

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

Last updated 6 May 2021

Premier’s update on rules and restrictions

From midday 6 May (enforceable from 5pm), rules around household visitors, face masks, singing, dancing and restrictions in aged care facilities will be tightened.

The restrictions apply to Greater Sydney (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) and will be in place until 12.01am Monday 10 May.

Read the Premier’s announcement.

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.

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.

Mandatory masks

Students over the age of 12 and staff must comply with the Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order 2021 when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services. This also applies to all public indoor venues such as retail, theatres, hospitals, aged care facilities and for front-of-house hospitality staff (except in a hospitality venue when eating or drinking.

Staff and students are not required to wear a face mask while at school. Anyone who wishes to wear their own masks in schools will not be prevented from doing so. Wearing a face mask is not mandatory for parents and carers visiting schools.

Events and gatherings

Events and gatherings on school sites, such as performances, productions, concerts, speech nights and award presentations are permitted. All attendees, including students, staff and visitors, including parents and carers, must be well and free of any flu-like symptoms. A COVID-19 Safety Plan is required if the event is held indoors with more than 100 external visitors or held outdoors with more than 200 external visitors.

A COVID-19 Safety Plan is required if the event is held indoors with more than 100 external visitors or held outdoors with more than 200 external visitors.

Singing

Singing by audiences is to be avoided. If students are performing in a choir, schools must ensure there is a minimum of five metres between the choir and audience members.

Singing by congregants at school masses held in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong is not permitted.

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.

Sydney Catholic Schools monitors the information about COVID-19 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.

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.

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  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

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.

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 provided 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.

As of March 8, parents are allowed to attend sporting events.

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