Term 3 COVID update – COVID smart measures at school
COVID-SMART MEASURES AT SCHOOL
In addition to these guidelines, the school can determine to mandate certain restrictions within the school setting to act as a circuit breaker if required.
In response to NSW Health advice and the current COVID-19 situation in the state, the Minister for Education and Early Learning has strongly encouraged mask-wearing when indoors for all school-based staff and for all students, particularly for the first 4 weeks of Term 3.
Masks are an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses and infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and the flu. A 4-week mask-wearing ‘blitz’ will help to reduce the risk of transmission events in our schools and keep our schools operational to support our students’ learning.
Masks continue to be mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 12 years and older, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered transport services.
In line with the latest advice from NSW Health, masks are recommended for students and staff who have recovered from COVID-19, completed their 7-day isolation period and are no longer showing symptoms for an additional 3 days (from days 8 – 10 after receiving a positive COVID-19 result).
Schools are asked to refer parent and carer enquiries to the NSW Government fact sheets for information on safely managing COVID-19.
Rapid antigen testing
As part of the NSW Government’s focus on minimising disruptions to teaching and learning, the CSNSW will continue to support the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) in schools throughout Term 3.
RATs will be sent to schools from Week 1 of Term 3. The delivery is expected to be completed within the first three weeks of term.
Staff and students who are identified as close contacts are allowed to attend school, providing they following guidelines:
- Advise the school that you are a close contact.
- Close contacts should conduct a daily RAT and return a negative result before attending a school.
- They must always wear a mask indoors (except when eating or exercising) if they are 12 years old or over.
Visitors on school sites
Visitors can attend schools regardless of their vaccination status, in line with settings in the broader community. This includes:
- volunteers or staff operating uniform shops and canteens
- allied health partners for the wellbeing of students
- university and TAFE students completing their practicum or teacher training.
Visitors who are close contacts should follow the close contact guidelines.
Schools do not need to keep students in their class or year cohort groups, as part of daily school operations
Ventilation and physical distancing
Maximising natural ventilation is an effective method for minimising the spread of respiratory viruses including COVID-19 and flu and other illness and can be best achieved by opening doors and windows.
- To support thermal comfort, schools may use heating or cooling in conjunction with windows and doors remaining slightly open to continue to allow natural ventilation.
- Use outdoor spaces for events and activities as much as possible in order to maximise natural ventilation. Measures should be put in place to maximise ventilation when using indoor spaces, such as opening windows.
- Allowing a reasonable space between people will reduce the risk of transmission in those environments and ensure people are more comfortable.
Hygiene and cleaning
- Encourage students and staff to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly, as incorrect use can increase the risk of infection.
- Boosted day cleaning of schools will continue to be implemented, focusing on target areas such as high-touch areas and other hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and movement areas.
Reducing the risk of illness this winter
All students, staff and their families should follow NSW Health’s advice to reduce the risk of not only COVID-19, but also other illnesses that may affect schools this winter such as the flu. Schools should reinforce the following NSW Health messages with their communities:
- Stay home if unwell or showing even the mildest of symptoms
- Keep up to date with vaccinations – including the flu vaccine, which is available from your local GP, pharmacy or Aboriginal Medical Service
- Get tested immediately for COVID-19 if you become symptomatic and isolate until you receive a negative result and are symptom free
- Practice good hand hygiene by washing regularly with soap and water
- Take a RAT before visiting vulnerable loved ones or going to large gatherings and events.