As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold at a rapid pace, the health and safety of our school communities and the continued learning of our students remain our highest priority.
National and state governments along with NSW health and education departments continue to advise Sydney Catholic Schools on the best measures to help confine the spread of the virus, consistent with the best information and medical knowledge available.
Their advice is premised on all schools and offices continuing to follow the hygiene guidelines and already in place in our schools to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Executive Director Tony Farley has outlined Sydney Catholic Schools’ position on COVID-19 in a letter to parents.
Please note that each of our 150 schools are being supported in all possible ways to manage the situation and respond to the needs of their communities.
We urge families to keep across this rapidly changing situation via updates through their individual schools and the Sydney Catholic Schools website.
Last updated 6 April 2020
St Michael’s Belfield open – 6 April
St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Belfield is open for supervision today (6 April) after a brief closure on 3 April for cleaning after a student tested positive for COVID-19.
Families of children who may have come into contact with the student were asked to self-isolate, consistent with NSW Health advice. Members of the school community are asked to be alert to any flu like symptoms and seek medical advice if required. Read the media statement here.
Term 1 finish
Sydney Catholic schools will bring forward the end of Term 1 by one week, beginning Monday, 6 April.
The decision to implement staff development days during this time was made in consultation with the NSW Government and Catholic Schools NSW, and is consistent with the 11 other Catholic dioceses in NSW.
From Monday, 6 April we will:
- post no new lessons or work for students which will provide some welcome downtime for students and parents until the start of Term 2
- continue to open our schools for those students and families who require supervision and care
- continue to work and plan for your child’s quality education when we return after the Easter break.
These staff development days will allow our teachers the time to further develop remote learning resources for students in preparation for Term 2, which begins on 27 April.
We appreciate the challenges that juggling work and family responsibilities while supervising your child’s learning presents and thank all parents and carers for their patience and support in this difficult time.
The Premier of NSW has announced that while schools remain open for supervision, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home. Remote learning options will be offered in this instance. Please be assured that should you rely upon your child attending school, we will provide care. Where a decision is made to close a school, SCS will contact the principal who will communicate directly with parents and staff.
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.
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.
Sydney Catholic Schools will provide fee relief to families whose financial circumstances have changed due to any
economic hardship and uncertainty created by COVID-19. Those affected are encouraged to have a confidential discussion with their principal or phone our School Fee Support Unit – (02) 9568 8198.
See more details of the changes SCS has implemented to support families during this difficult time in the letter to parents on school fees.
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.
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