NEWS | 26 November 2021

COVID-19 Information & Updates

Get up-to-date information and updates about Novel Coronavirus on the NSW Health website.

Diocesan Directors, RI & PJP Principals

If you are a Diocesan Director or RI & PJP Principal there are resources for School & System Leaders available through our COVID-19 Response Portal.
For instructions on how to log in please see this article.

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Advice for families


From 8 November, all schools will operate on updated Level 3 settings for the remainder of Term 4.

Term 1 2022 settings are under review and will be updated as soon as possible.

Last updated 3 pm 25 November 2021

Term 4 roadmap – from 8 November

From 8 November all schools operate on updated Level 3 settings for the rest of Term 4, with additional activities allowed in a COVID-safe manner.

Student attendance at school

  • All students are expected to be at school unless they are unwell. Do not attend school if unwell, even with mild symptoms. Get tested for COVID-19 and follow NSW Health directions. Find your local testing clinics.
  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you will be sent home and must not return to school unless you have either:
    • isolated for 10 days, when no medical certificate is available
    • a negative COVID-19 test result and are symptom free.
  • In circumstances where a student has other medical reasons for recurrent symptoms, a letter from your GP is sufficient to negate the requirement for a negative test.
  • Self-isolation periods and testing requirements differ for close contacts based on their exposure and vaccination status. If you are identified as a close contact, an authorised contact tracer from NSW Health or from the Diocesan office or school will contact you and let you know what you need to do.
  • Rapid antigen home testing might be an option for students and school-based staff to return to face-to-face learning and teaching.

COVID-safe measures at school

A combination of layered safety measures – vaccination, wearing masks, student cohorting, physical distancing, ventilation, hygiene and cleaning – allows us to prioritise student and staff wellbeing while we keep schools operational.

COVID-safe cohorting for students

To provide a safe learning environment for students and staff, schools will be implementing a cohort model to reduce interaction between students in different groups and minimise physical interaction between students on school grounds.

  • All activities will minimise mixing and mingling between cohorts.
  • Each cohort will be allocated a learning space, completing all lessons and break times with their cohort.
  • Drop-offs, pick-ups, break times, playground and canteen access will be staggered by cohort.
  • Within each cohort, students should maintain strict personal hygiene and physical distancing wherever possible.

Schools will manage the cohort model in a way that best meets the needs of their students.

Vaccinations required

  • All staff on school sites must be fully vaccinated.
  • All parents and carers, volunteers and providers who are permitted to come onto school sites must be fully vaccinated.
  • Students from the age of 12 and above are eligible to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and are strongly recommended to do so where possible.

Wear masks indoors

  • Masks are required indoors for all staff, visitors and students in Year 7 or above, and strongly recommended indoors for primary students.
  • You can take your mask off when eating or exercising.

If a student or staff member has a physical illness, mental health condition or disability that makes mask wearing unsuitable then they may provide proof of exemption for not wearing a mask.

Proof of exemption is either:

  • a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider, or,
  • a statutory declaration.

Either forms of proof of exemption should:

  • identify the physical illness, mental health condition, or disability, and,
  • why the physical illness, mental health condition, or disability makes wearing a fitted face covering unsuitable.

Proof of exemption can be provided to the principal.

If providing a statutory declaration, the form can be downloaded at https://www.jp.nsw.gov.au/Pages/justices-of-the-peace/nsw-statutory-declaration.aspx.

A statutory declaration is a written statement which a person swears, affirms or declares to be true in the presence of an authorised witness — usually a JP, lawyer or notary public. This may be made by a person aged 16+ with legal capacity.

It is a criminal offence to make false or incorrect statements in a statutory declaration.

Always check in

  • All staff and visitors must check in when attending a school site or gathering.
  • Schools must maintain attendance records of all gatherings.

Physically distance

  • Maintain 1.5 metres physical distancing wherever practicable.

Maximise ventilation

  • Teaching and learning in indoor spaces will be well ventilated and as large as possible for the number of participants.
  • Outdoor settings for activities and events should be prioritised wherever practical as these represent a lower risk than indoor settings.
  • Where activities or events will proceed indoors, organisers will ensure the space is well ventilated and as large as possible for the number of attendees.

Maintain good hygiene

Students and staff should wash hands regularly.

Cleaning

Cleaning practices are one part of our layers of protection in schools, along with vaccinations, mask-wearing, good ventilation, minimising contact between class groups, physical distancing and practising good hand hygiene.

Catholic schools are cleaned by professional cleaners each day, guided by expert advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and by NSW Health.

At the start of the pandemic the NSW Government quickly scaled up the school cleaning program. On top of the regular cleaning of schools, enhanced cleaning before or after school was added, as well as additional day cleaning, focused on high touch surfaces such as handrails, light switches and door handles as well as high use areas such as toilet facilities and bubblers. In the case of a positive COVID-19 case schools were also closed for up to 2 days to enable an environmental clean to be undertaken by specialist cleaners.

Over time, NSW Health advice has evolved based on the virus profile and research, which now supports that contamination risk from surfaces is very small. NSW Health has agreed that the regular clean (undertaken outside of school hours), day clean (clean of high touch areas at recess or lunch times) and enhanced clean (additional before or afterschool clean) provides a more than sufficient layer of protection in schools for students and staff.

From 29 November, environmental cleaning in schools will only be conducted on a case-by-case basis following an assessment from the Catholic Schools NSW and contact tracers. NSW Health have agreed there is no benefit to undertaking an environmental clean which is highly disruptive to students and prevents a quicker return to face-to-face learning than would otherwise be possible. Catholic schools will continue to monitor the cleaning settings in consultation with NSW Health.

The vast majority of school cleaning is undertaken outside of school hours. A comprehensive risk analysis confirms that cleaners are classified as low risk for school settings. Cleaners on school sites must be fully vaccinated, have minimal contact with students and are required to wear personal protective equipment while undertaking their duties.

Updated Level 3 settings

Parents and carers on site

Fully vaccinated parents and carers will be allowed on site to support curriculum delivery, vulnerable students or students with disability, student wellbeing activities and school operations (for example reading support, canteens and uniform shops). Parents and carers must check in using the school check-in, show proof of vaccination on entry to the school site and follow mask-wearing requirements.

One fully vaccinated parent or carer is permitted to attend their child’s Kindergarten orientation when conducted outdoors.

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding student drop-off and pick-up, which will usually require parents to remain off school sites at these times. This includes staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if it is safe to do so. This does not apply to drop-off and pick-up from outside of school hours care (OOSHC) as sign-in and -out procedures are required for OOSHC.

Parents and carers should follow the physical distancing advice for their local area and avoid gathering outside of school gates.

Assemblies and presentations

Assemblies and presentations will be allowed outdoors on site. Cohorts will be separated with physical distancing in place where practicable.

Fully vaccinated visitors (including parents and carers) are only allowed to attend if completing a specific role (such as presenting) and at the invitation of the school. All visitors must check in using the school check-in and show proof of vaccination.

Dancing, singing, music and performances

Dancing will be allowed indoors and outdoors in class cohorts.

Bands, ensembles, music classes and music tuition will be allowed within cohorts and only for instruments that do not rely on breath, as these pose a higher transmission risk.

Masks must be worn if playing instruments indoors. Masks are not required if playing instruments outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.

Singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs are permitted under the following conditions:

  • outdoors
  • within cohort groups.
  • with physical distancing of
    • 5m between performers including instructions and teachers
    • 5m between the performer and any person in front of them in place
  • 3m between the performer and any person from the direction of airflow from their instruments
  • no sharing of instruments.
  • Under these conditions, instruments that rely on breath and/or singing and chanting may be used for:​
  • one-to-one tuition​
  • music classes, bands, ensembles, group repetition and choirs within cohorts only.

Students and staff can use instruments that rely on breath and participate in singing, chanting, group repetition and choirs for 2022 HSC preparation and assessment purposes. In these settings, schools should maximise ventilation and physical distancing.

School performances, productions and concerts are not permitted.

Excursions and incursions

Excursions will be allowed outdoors and indoors. If the excursion is indoors, the cohort will need to have sole use of the venue.

Excursions are day-only and not overnight.

Excursions must comply with any COVID-safe requirements in place for that venue. Note, the current public health orders (expected to be in effect until 15 December) mean that where excursions are held indoors at an entertainment facility, recreation facility or hospitality venues:

  • anyone aged 16 and over must be fully vaccinated to attend venues
  • children under 16 years of age who are not fully vaccinated can attend as long as they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household.

Transportation to and from venues must maintain cohorts.

Incursions will be allowed indoors or outdoors in cohorts. Any visitors on site to support incursions must be fully vaccinated and will be required to check in using the school check-in app and show proof of vaccination status on entry to the school site.

Graduations and formals

Schools can plan for these events to be held from 1 December. However, Year 12 formals and graduations should not occur until after the final exam for that school’s HSC cohort, which may be as late as 3 December.

Graduations and formals will be allowed within cohorts, either on school sites or at external venues.

For graduations and formals held on school sites, students in the cohort may attend regardless of vaccination status.

Anyone advised by NSW Health that they are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must not attend.

Anyone who have symptoms of COVID-19 must not attend.

Graduations and formals held off school sites must comply with any COVID-safe requirements in place for that venue.

Year 12 students will be able to attend end-of-year school celebrations including formals, dinners or graduations – regardless of their vaccination status. The event must be organised by, or on behalf of, the school in which the student is enrolled.

To celebrate with their cohort, Year 12 students who have not been vaccinated will be required to show a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to the event and follow the COVID-safe rules in place at the venue.

 

Masks are required for anyone aged 12 and over while indoors (and strongly recommended for primary school students Years -) except while eating and drinking. If graduations and formals are held outdoors, masks are not required.

Using shared spaces at school

Shared spaces, such as changing rooms, libraries, school halls and other communal areas, may only be used by one cohort at a time, with adherence to strict personal hygiene protocols and physical distancing requirements.

Sports and swimming pool access

From 1 November, school sports are allowed, including inter-school sports outside of school hours.

Schools can access pools (both indoor and outdoor) within cohorts and with COVID-safe measures in place to reduce mixing and mingling of cohorts.

Transitions and orientations

Transitions and orientations will be allowed as long as they are designed to minimise mingling between visiting children and school cohorts.

These events are for students only, except for Kindergarten orientation where one fully vaccinated parent or carer may accompany their child for outdoor components.

Fully vaccinated parents or carers may attend any transition or orientation event if required to support a child with additional needs.

Visitors and volunteers on site

Fully vaccinated visitors – such as volunteers, allied health partners and other external providers – are allowed on site to support curriculum delivery, wellbeing programs and school operations that maintain student cohorts. These include programs such as reading support, canteens, uniform shops and gardening.

All visitors must sign in using the school check-in app and show proof of vaccination status on entry to the school site.

School photos

School photos are allowed outdoors on school sites. Providers supporting school photos must be fully vaccinated and sign in using the school check-in app. Class photos are permitted with physical distancing maintained. Individual photos and sibling photos are permitted. No team photos are permitted as this would introduce mixing between cohorts.

Community use of school sites outside of school hours

Community use of school sites will be allowed outside of school hours, with a Community Use Agreement and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. The COVID-19 Safety Plan must be provided to the principal as part of the Community Use Agreement.

Community use of school sites should use outdoor spaces where possible.

Community use for sport, recreation and outdoor public gatherings

If community use of a school site is for any of the following purposes, the organiser must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan in the form specified by the NSW Government to meet public health requirements:

  • outdoor community sport
  • indoor sport and recreation
  • indoor pools
  • outdoor public gathering such a market or fete

Further information on developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the above types of use is available at NSW Government COVID-19 Safety Plans.

The organiser is responsible for ensuring that all attendees meet any specified vaccination requirements. All attendees must check in using the organisation’s QR code.

For assistance setting up a free QR code, organisers should refer to the NSW Government’s Setting up electronic check-in and QR codes.

Playgroups that operate on school sites

Playgroups are allowed to operate on school sites, with a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

All playgroups operating on school sites must ensure:

  • All staff, volunteers and parents in attendance must be fully vaccinated and must show proof of vaccination status.
  • Staff, volunteers and parents must check-in using the playgroup’s QR code. Parents should check their child as a dependent.
  • Physical distancing of 1.5 metres should be maintained at all times.
  • Any person aged 12 and over must wear a mask at all times indoors unless they have an exemption.

Playgroups can develop COVID-19 Safety Plans in any form as long as the above requirements are addressed.

For assistance setting up a free QR code, organisers should refer to the NSW Government’s Setting up electronic check-in and QR codes.

Parents and friends associations meetings outside of school hours

P&F associations may hold meetings on school sites outside of school hours without a Community Use Agreement or COVID-19 Safety Plan.

The local President of the P&F, or a delegate, must ensure:

  • All P&F members that attend meetings on the school site must be fully vaccinated. The President (or delegate) must visually sight vaccination status to verify that requirements are met.
  • All P&F members in attendance at each meeting must check-in using either the school check-in code or a P&F-specific QR code.

For assistance setting up a free QR code, organisations should refer to the NSW Government’s Setting up electronic check-in and QR codes.

Other activities permitted

When COVID-safe measures are in place – mask wearing indoors, full vaccination of adults on site, minimising mingling, square metre rules in place and good hygiene practices – then schools can continue to operate:

  • canteens
  • uniform stores
  • early childhood services (OOSHC, vacation care, preschools etc.)
  • emergency drills and evacuations where possible, conducted in a COVID-safe manner – this means where possible keeping classes, groups or cohorts together.

Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements

  • Pre-service teachers and others on professional experience placements are required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November. Principals should ensure all placements meet these requirements.
  • Professional experience placements are voluntary for all schools.

VET, TAFE, SBATS and trade schools

  • VET work placements can resume wherever possible in line with Public Health Orders. Some industries where vaccinations are mandated may decline to take a placement student unless that student is fully vaccinated. NESA has advised that students who cannot complete their VET work placement due to COVID-related impacts will still be eligible for the HSC. Any placements must be subject to appropriate risk assessments and approvals.
  • Trade schools, VET and TAFE courses should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or online can be delivered face to face if the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • School-based apprenticeship and traineeship training should continue to be delivered virtually where possible. Training that cannot be delivered virtually or online can be delivered face to face if the training complies with COVID-safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • Prospective and current school-based apprentices and trainees (SBATs) may undertake work experience and employment if their employment complies with COVID-Safe practices and NSW Public Health Orders.
  • The white card training to school students should only be conducted via face-to-face delivery.
  • Non-essential work experience should be deferred.

Election day fundraisers

Schools across NSW often host polling for local, state and federal government elections. During these elections, parents and citizens associations (P&Fs) commonly hold fundraisers at schools to unite their community and raise funds for local programs. Organisations other than P&Cs are not permitted to host election day fundraiser events.

P&Fs coordinating fundraisers at schools on election day should complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan – Hospitality, including the following measures:

Takeaway food service only

Fundraisers should be limited to takeaway food service only, such as barbeques and cake stalls. Fundraisers should be outdoors wherever possible.

Check-in

When entering the school site on election day, anyone aged 16 and older must check-in using the election’s QR code. Do not use the School Visitor Check-in code. There is no need to set up a separate P&F QR code for the fundraiser, as NSW Health will manage all contact tracing via the election’s QR code.

Masks and vaccination

Anyone working (including volunteering) on school sites as part of a P&F election day fundraiser must wear masks (both indoors and outdoors) and be fully vaccinated.

There are no vaccination requirements for customers, in line with public health settings for takeaway food shops.

Customers aged 12 and older are not required to wear a mask while outdoors but must wear a mask while indoors.

Volunteers running the fundraiser should take reasonable steps to ensure 1.5 metres of physical distancing is maintained between customers and volunteers while queuing. Measures may include:

  • queues with distancing markers and signage
  • limiting the number of workers (including volunteers) in any confined space (using the 1 person per 2sqm rule)
  • not providing seating – including removing any portable furniture and clearly marking fixed furniture as not to be used
  • reminding customers not to consume food on-site.

High-risk activities not permitted

Schools must not undertake the following activities to avoid mixing of cohorts and to avoid an increased risk of transmission:

  • overnight excursions or camps
  • international excursions
  • student visits to aged care facilities.

Travel and public transport

  • Wherever possible students should be transported to schools by private vehicle to minimise mixing of cohorts while travelling to school.
  • Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 12 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.
  • All staff operating vehicles are required to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Children aged 11 years and under should be encouraged to wear a face mask while using public transport.
  • Students are encouraged to not eat or drink while using public transport as this might lead to groups of children seated together removing their face masks at the same time, increasing the risk of transmission. Students are reminded to not share drinks, snacks or other food.
  • Students are reminded about how to correctly wear a face mask.
  • Transport vehicles will operate to the lowest level of density they can, noting there are existing restrictions around capacity.
  • Wherever possible, physical distancing will be maintained.

Assisted School Travel Program

ASTP will remain available for students who access the service and continue to attend school on site, in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • All staff operating vehicles (Assisted Travel Support Officers and Drivers) are required to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask or face covering in and around vehicles at all times.
  • It is mandatory for students aged 12 years and over to wear masks. However, wearing a mask may be unsuitable for some students or they may not be able to wear them for extended periods of time. The Public Health Order includes reasons why someone may be exempted from wearing a mask or face covering, such as intellectual disability, autism, trauma or skin conditions. These students will not be excluded from ASTP services for not wearing a mask or face covering.
  • Vehicles will be adequately ventilated during runs and regularly sanitised.
  • Parents and carers are also required to wear a mask around vehicles in order to minimise risk of transmission during student pick up and drop off. Parents and carers may access the same mask wearing exemptions as students.

Boarding schools

Boarding schools must comply with all school requirements set out in these guidelines, and the Boarding school guidelines.

Border communities

Where state-specific border restrictions allow students and staff to cross the border, students and staff should refer to the level settings for the local government area in which their school is located.

All students and staff who cannot attend school or work due to interstate border disruptions will be supported to learn and work from home.

Preschools managed by the Catholic sector

Preschools are being managed in line with the rest of schools under these guidelines.

Families should follow normal sign-in/out procedures and COVID-safe guidelines when dropping off and picking up. Preschools will consider procedures to support pick up and drop off from the school gates. Where this is not possible or unsafe, families should pick up from the entrance of the preschool, following COVID-safe guidelines.


Response protocols for COVID-19 cases


Last updated 25 November 2021

A report by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance into the transmission of COVID-19 within NSW schools has found the spread of COVID-19 within NSW Schools has been very limited. Access the full COVID-19 in schools report.

Where there is a case of COVID-19 in the school community, Catholic Schools NSW has established systems and protocols with NSW Health to manage and respond accordingly to keep our staff and students safe.

Quick guide for parents and carers

Catholic Schools NSW will advise Diocesan offices and RI/PJP schools or early education centre if there is a COVID-19 positive case on a day that your child attended and in turn they will let you know if your child has been named as a close or casual contact.

If your child has COVID-19 symptoms

If you or your child has any COVID-19 symptoms get tested with a standard PCR (nose and throat swab) test as soon as possible and self-isolate until you receive a negative result. Common symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, runny nose or fatigue.

You must travel by private transport to be tested and wear a face mask. This applies even if you or your child is fully vaccinated.

Self-isolation rules are different depending on your circumstances. While it is likely that older children can isolate by themselves younger children may need their parent or carer to co-isolate with them.

For further information refer to NSW Health’s COVID-19 symptoms.

If your child is a close contact

If your child is fully vaccinated and has returned their negative day 6 test, they will generally be able to return to on-site learning after leaving isolation after day 7. Your child will still be required to test on day 12 and should continue to monitor for symptoms during this time and only return to their school or early childhood service if well.

If your child is unvaccinated, they can return to their school or early childhood service after they have received their negative test results for Days 6 and 12 and finished their full isolation period.

The use of rapid antigen home tests as part of the education’s test-to-stay program may reduce the time away from school if your child is identified as a close contact as a result of a positive COVID-19 case in school. For more information, refer to the Rapid antigen home testing section that follows.

For further information refer to NSW Health’s Close contacts.

If your child is a casual contact

Your child can return to their school or early childhood service when they leave isolation after receiving their first negative COVID-19 test. All casual contacts need to follow the advice in the fact sheets, attend for a day 6 test and only return to school if well.

For further information refer to NSW Health’s Casual contacts.

If your child is positive for COVID-19

Your child can return to their school or early childhood service once they have completed their isolation, have been medically cleared and have been provided with a medical clearance notice by a medical practitioner or a registered nurse. Your child should only return to on-site learning if well and not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

For further information on release from isolation, please review NSW Health’s release and recovery from COVID-19 information or review the frequently asked questions on this page.

For further information refer to NSW Health’s Confirmed cases.

Rapid antigen home tests for close contacts

Updated 25 November 2021

NSW Health has approved the use of rapid antigen home test (RAHT) kits as an option to get school students back to face-to-face learning earlier if they are identified as a close contact from an exposure at school.

There will be circumstances where it will not be possible for schools to implement the RAHT test-to-stay program – where the nature of the school means this is not possible, or the timing of the exposure does not align.

RAHT is not an option where a student is identified as a close contact from a community exposure and not at school. In these circumstances, the full isolation period is required.

When RAHT is considered a suitable option, the Diocesan office and Catholic Schools NSW will work closely with the school. In these circumstances, parents and carers will be able to decide whether RAHT is the right option for their child.

If RAHT is a suitable option, students identified as close contacts, can return to school after receiving a negative standard PCR (nose and throat swab) test result and started using the daily RAHT kits. The use of daily RAHT is optional and will need to be conducted at home under adult supervision. Students participating will still need to follow NSW Health advice on isolation requirements outside of school. Students participating in RAHT test-to-stay can attend before and after school care facilities and activities.

Free RAHT kits will be supplied to schools and will be distributed when there are identified close contacts due to a positive COVID-19 case at the school.

Any staff or students who have been identified as close contacts as a result of exposure on a school site and are currently isolating can return to school from Monday 29 November and begin RAHT testing as long as they have already had a negative PCR test. Catholic Schools NSW is currently arranging RAHT kits to be dispatched for these schools.

 

Using RAHT means:

  • Your child needs to isolate at home from the last date of their exposure to the confirmed case (this is the date on the close contact letter you will receive if your child is identified as a close contact).
  • As part of the NSW Health directions, your child should have had their standard PCR test from a testing clinic as soon as they were identified as a close contact and start their isolation.
  • Notify the school of the standard PCR test result.
  • If the standard PCR test result is negative, collect the RAHT kits from the school and use them from the following morning.
  • You will be provided a bundle of 7 RAHT kits to use every day for 7 consecutive days including on weekends and non-school days. You must use all 7 RAHT kits on your child.
  • If the daily RAHT is negative, your child can go to school and continue to use the RAHT test each morning before school.
  • Outside of school, your child needs to remain in isolation and stay home. This means they cannot go to parks, shops or before and after school care.
  • If the daily RAHT result is positive, your child cannot attend school and they must have a standard PCR test from a testing clinic and isolate while waiting for the result.
  • If the standard PCR  test is positive, follow advice from NSW Health.
  • If the PCR result is negative, your child may resume attending school after sending a copy of the results to the school and keep using RAHT daily.
  • You need to send the result of the daily RAHT test to the school using the CareStart app or on the website – this will be provided to you when needed.
  • If  you do not provide the result of a negative test each day, the student must revert to isolation for the 14-day period following their last contact with the positive case and undertake learning from home, supported by the school.
  • Once all 7 RAHT kits are used, your child will no longer be in isolation and can attend school and other activities.
  • Always monitor for symptoms and get a standard PCR (nose and throat swab) test if symptoms develop.
  • If you choose not to use RAHT, your child will need to isolate for the full 14 days as per the current NSW Health requirements. Get a standard PCR test from a testing clinic as soon as you’re aware that they are a close contact and follow NSW Health advice. Let the school know of the result before sending them back to school after the 14-day isolation period. The school will continue to provide learning from home materials during this time.

Response protocols for confirmed cases of COVID-19

Catholic Schools NSW has protocols in place where it is notified by NSW Health or a member of the school community when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school-age student, staff member or a member of the school community who has been on school grounds during their infectious period. In addition, schools and workplaces are required to notify confirmed cases of COVID-19 to their Diocesan office or Catholic Schools NSW hotline where the person has been on school grounds or involved in any school activities within the previous 3 weeks.

Where the person has not been on school grounds within the previous 3 weeks, there is no requirement to report these cases unless additional support and advice is required.

All confirmed cases are immediately assessed by the Catholic Schools NSW and NSW Health to determine whether the student, staff or school community member has been infectious while at school, and to determine the appropriate course of action required to minimise the risk to the wider community.

A member of the school community can report a positive COVID-19 case to the school by providing the principal a copy of the email or text message they received confirming the case. This will be investigated by the Diocesan office and Catholic Schools NSW in close consultation with NSW Health. Appropriate action will be taken.

Key actions include:

  • contact tracing to identify all close contacts to a confirmed case – in some instances, this may require making the school non-operational while the contact tracing process is completed
  • communication with parents advising them whether their child has been in contact with a confirmed case
  • if needed, thorough cleaning of the school site to ensure the environment is clean and safe prior to the school resuming on-site learning.

Contact tracing

Parents will be notified by the school in writing if their child has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 while at school. Students who are identified as close contacts will be required to remain in home isolation and not return to school until the end of their isolation period. In this situation, the school will arrange for the student to receive their learning programs at home.

Students who are identified as casual contacts will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to school. All families will receive a formal letter from the school to advise what to do if they have been at school on a day when the confirmed case was considered to be infectious.

School operations

Parents and carers will be notified if a decision is made to make the school non-operational for on-site learning to enable contact tracing and/or cleaning process to take place. Information about the operational status of the school will be disseminated using the school’s information channels.

During this period, educational material will be made available to enable students to continue learning at home.

Parents and students will be notified by the Diocesan office or the school when the school is ready to resume on-site learning.

Safety and hygiene

Catholic Schools NSW is continuing to work closely with NSW Health and other relevant agencies to ensure the best possible precautions are in place to protect students and staff in our public schools.

Schools have comprehensive infection control and first aid arrangements in place and are well practised in implementing practical strategies and standard precautions to prevent the spread of disease in our schools.

Good personal hygiene, including regular hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting and the use of personal protective equipment are vigorously applied across all schools.

Cleaning

All schools have COVID-safe plans and are taking precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on-site. This includes enhanced cleaning 2 times a day in all schools in line with the latest advice from NSW Health and SafeWork Australia.

Where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, cleaning will be carried out at the school site in line with cleaning protocols agreed with NSW Health.


Latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW


Students are reminded to remain vigilant and practise physical distancing and hygiene measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff are maintained.

Check the latest COVID-19 case locations in NSW and follow the recommended actions if you have been in a location where there may have been exposure to COVID-19. We encourage members of the community to monitor this site. Please follow the relevant health advice if you have been at any of the locations at the specified dates and times.

The locations along with the times and dates of identified cases can be found on the NSW COVID-19 website. There are more than 350 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.


School Attendance


In accordance with advice from NSW Health, parents and carers are reminded NOT to send children to school if they are unwell, even if they have the mildest flu-like symptoms.

NSW Health has requested that schools encourage anyone who is unwell or has even mild flu-like symptoms, to arrange to be tested through their local medical practitioner or one of the COVID-19 clinics.

Students and staff with flu-like symptoms need to be tested and provide a copy of a negative COVID-19 test result and be symptom-free before being permitted to return to school.

Students who do not undertake a COVID-19 test will not be permitted to return to school for a 10-day period. Additionally, they must be symptom-free for at least 3 days prior to returning to school.

Students who have seasonal allergic rhinitis or another condition that presents similarly to flu-like symptoms are still required to get tested for COVID-19 and return a negative test result. Where their symptoms continue beyond 10 days, students should provide documentation from their GP confirming their symptoms are typical for their condition. If the student develops new or changed symptoms, they should get tested for COVID-19. Find more information about COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 testing for students with complex health or disability may be challenging. In these situations, schools will ask the parent or carer to have their child assessed by their medical practitioner. Where a medical practitioner determines that a COVID-19 test is not required, documentation must be provided to the school to confirm that the student does not have symptoms that warrant a COVID-19 test. The certificate must also indicate that the student is able to return to school.

All schools will be vigilant when implementing infection control, physical distancing and personal hygiene protocols to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Schools will promote the need to follow good hygiene practices such as:

  • regularly washing hands.
  • avoiding sharing drinks or food.
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or a tissue which should be discarded immediately.

Students will be supported to learn from home in the following circumstances:

  • If they are required to self-isolate due to being a close contact of a positive or suspected COVID-19 case.
  • Where the school is directed under public health advice to only remain operational for children of essential workers if an outbreak of COVID-19 was to arise in the local area.

Responding to COVID-19 cases


There is a clear plan in place for schools to respond to any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We are working closely with NSW Health and will communicate with parents if a situation arises.


Mental Health Support


Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak is important. Please see below a suite of contacts & resources to assist you.

Beyond Blue: Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

Headspace: How to cope with stress related to COVID-19

Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Mensline – 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800


Other Catholic School Agencies


Catholic schools in NSW operate under the auspices of one of the 11 diocesan Catholic schools offices or one of the 20 religious institutes or ministerial public juridic persons (PJPs). The contact details for these Catholic school agencies can be found below (or by key word search). The day to day operational responsibility, including the employment of staff, for Catholic systemic schools lies with the 11 diocesan offices and the individual school for ‘independent’ Catholic schools run by the religious institutes and PJPs. Concerns or questions should be directed to the relevant Catholic school agency or school in the first instance.Contact your diocese for more information:

Diocese of Armidale
Diocese of Bathurst
Diocese of Broken Bay
Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn
Diocese of Lismore
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Diocese of Parramatta
Sydney Catholic Schools
Diocese of Wagga Wagga
Diocese of Wilcannia Forbes
Diocese of Wollongong

More information

For media enquiries please contact the CSNSW Public Affairs Unit
e: [email protected]
p: 02 9287 1530