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 26 May 2020
Return to face-to-face teaching
Sydney Catholic Schools has been working with health authorities and the state and federal governments to plan our return to face-to-face teaching and learning.
All our schools will begin to move back to regular face-to-face learning. The approach to return is being organised by each school in line with 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 their approach to the return at the beginning of week two. 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.
All our schools will continue to be hypervigilant 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 adult physical distancing guidelines, 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 remain in place 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 staff rooms or in large staff meetings, and avoid shared items as much as possible.
Extra $10m to improve COVID-19 hygiene measures
The National Education Catholic Education Commission has released the latest information about hygiene spending in non-government schools.
There should be no visitors to school sites unless they are essential. Your school can provide guidance as to who is considered essential.
Your school will provide advice on drop off and pick up procedures.
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 and parent/carer/teacher meetings should be conducted online.
Community use of school facilities will recommence only for uses that are necessary for continuation of education and with principal’s approval.
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 student. For more of travel advice refer to NSW public transport service
What will Term 2 look like?
Phased return for students at Sydney Catholic Schools
In line with recommendations from the NSW government and Department of Health, Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) will begin a phased approach to students returning to school in Term 2.
School will formally resume on Wednesday April 29, and, for the first two weeks of term, the majority of our students will continue with the remote learning program begun at the end of Term 1.
Students will be provided a single unit of work to complete at school or at home. A limited number of staff will be present on site for supervision during this time.
Schools will be open and operational for students that need to attend but, where practical, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.
From Week 3 (May 11), SCS will begin a phased return to onsite learning. More details will be provided to parents and students as we approach Week 3. For information as to how this will operate at your school, please contact the principal.
These arrangements are intended to enable sufficient physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the protection of all staff and students.
Thank you for your continuing support as we all work together to keep each other as safe as possible.
Seven National Principles 0f 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 in coming weeks, to enable students to return to classroom learning as soon as possible.
Our priority is the health and safety of pupils and staff, so our schools will continue to remain open for students who need to attend while, at the same time, provide remote learning for those remaining at home.
Based on the latest advice from the federal government regarding mass gatherings, a number of CSNSW sporting events have been cancelled. The list of cancelled or postponed events is updated regularly.
It is with great sadness that we announce that all ANZAC ceremonies planned for Sydney Catholic Schools have been cancelled. This is in keeping with government advice regarding mass gatherings.
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 latest 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 will be released by 15 May.
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.
Supervision and learning at school
Our staff are working hard to deliver quality teaching and learning remotely and at school in these unprecedented times.
While your child may not be in their regular classroom or supervised by their regular teacher when they attend school, be assured they will have access to the same learning as their peers who remain at home.
As we move toward online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
The federal government has requested Australians to refrain from ALL overseas travel. We ask people to follow Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advice, especially when making plans for the school holidays.
Returning from overseas travel
Due to strict government guidelines, schools are asked to ensure any student or staff member who returns from overseas self-isolates for 14 days from their return date.
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