As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the health and safety of our school communities and the 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 23 November 2020

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.

HSC students who require testing can get their results fast-tracked through pathology. NSW Health have advised that any Year 12 student or their parent simply need to inform the nurse or doctor at the time of testing that they are HSC students, that test should be marked ‘Urgent – HSC student’.

NSW COVID-19 Clusters

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.

Interstate Travellers

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

Anyone who has been in South Australia since Friday 6 November should regularly monitor the South Australian Health alert page for venues of concern and follow the advice of South Australian Health. If they have been to an area of concern they must not attend Sydney Catholic Schools until they have completed 14 days self-isolation followed by a negative COVID-19 test.

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.

Orientations

Year 7 transitions and Kindergarten Orientation can return. Please follow the guidelines for these events provided by the Department of Education

Music & Singing

All music programs may return provided students are distanced 1.5m apart and facing forward in well ventilated or outdoor areas. Teachers must remain 1.5m from students at all times during music performance.

Restriction on singing groups may return to normal numbers, provided they take place outdoors in a well ventilated area.

Parental Attendance

Parents are not allowed on schools grounds outside essential meetings, canteen or uniform shop duty, education support roles or special events.

On November 10 NSW Education Secretary, Mark Scott, announced “Parents and carers will be able to attend end of year presentation days as we head towards a COVID-safe summer… P&C meetings at schools can resume from November 12, and students can attend excursions to the ACT from today.”
For more information visit the Department of Education Advice for families page. 

Parents who attend presentations, P&C meetings or attend school grounds for other allowed reasons should observe physical distancing and hygiene measures must be adhered to at all times. P&C meetings must occur outside of school hours and are limited to a maximum of 20 people with all attendees signing in.

Other community social events or functions, fundraisers, fetes and barbecues are not permitted in Term 4.

Excursions, Incursions and School Camps

Excursions, incursions, camps and retreats have been cleared to return in Term 4. Excursions and camps can only take place within NSW borders or to ACT following the restriction guidelines.

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.

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

HSC students who require testing can get their results fast-tracked through pathology. NSW Health have advised that any Year 12 student or their parent simply need to inform the nurse or doctor at the time of testing that they are HSC students, that test should be marked ‘Urgent – HSC student’.

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 by the latest 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 limited cohorts.

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.

School Grounds

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.

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.

Masks

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.

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 where advised. 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.

Sport 

Provided schools follow the relevant health guidelines interschool sport, carnivals, round robins and galas can return in Term 4. If the school is using a local sports ground, pool or community facility the school needs to have exclusive usage.
Attendance at all sporting events is to be limited to 500 (including staff). External spectators including parents and carers are not allowed. Students and staff should avoid public change rooms and facilities wherever possible

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

Inter School Events 

Inter-school student events and competitions including debating, public speaking, performing arts and sports have been allowed to return in Term 4.

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.

Masses & Liturgy

Mass and Liturgy are allowed to continue in Term 4 provided they follow the most up to date government health advice and appropriate physical distancing advice.

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.

Year 12 Graduation, Formals and other Traditional Events

The NSW Government announced on the 7th of September that Year 12 students across NSW will be able to celebrate finishing school with COVID-19 Safe graduation ceremonies and formals during Term 4. At this time they cannot take place prior to November 12 2020. The NSW Government’s COVID Safe plans for these events are available here

Outside these specific events, schools cannot endorse a separate event organised by parents or students to replace or take part long side these events. Sydney Catholic Schools discourages groups from organising events in replacement, we give out sincere condolences for the loss of other traditional events.

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