NEWS | 26 April 2022

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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Term 2 settings for 2022


Term 2 settings for 2022 continue to be developed and updated in close consultation with NSW Health.

Last updated 26 April 2022

In Term 2 2022, Catholic schools will operate with a number of COVID-smart measures that have been developed with NSW Health to minimise transmission and keep schools open.

These key measures include:

  • rapid antigen testing (RAT) of students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or are identified as close contacts
  • vaccinations
  • maximising ventilation
  • encouraging regular hand washing and continuing enhanced cleaning of schools
  • assessing risk and applying appropriate safeguards across activities and events
  • learning from home where face-to-face learning is not possible.

In certain circumstances Catholic schools may advise that certain COVID-smart measures be temporarily reintroduced at your school. Your principal will work with Health, their Diocesan education office and/or Catholic Schools NSW and provide further details of any changes to COVID-smart measures at your school when required. These temporary measures may include:

  • ceasing large indoor gatherings
  • ceasing off-site and inter-school activities
  • mask wearing for adults and high school students
  • limiting visitors to schools
  • separating cohorts of students
  • symptomatic use of RATs
  • learning from home or remotely.

Close contacts attending school

The announcement to ease the isolation requirements for close contacts was made on 20 April 2022. This will enable students and staff who are close contacts and have no symptoms to continue to attend school if they follow guidelines agreed with NSW Health. Close contacts will not be permitted to enter an specialist centres or support unit (including Assisted School Travel Program) and will be supported to continue learning or working from home where possible.

Close contacts attending school will need to adhere to the following in addition to the NSW Health guidelines:

  • They must notify the school and their outside of school hours care (OOSHC) provider if they are intending to return under this provision.
  • They should conduct a daily RAT and return a negative result each morning before attending school for 5 school days.
  • They (if in a secondary school setting) must wear a mask indoors except when eating or exercising. Primary school students are recommended to wear a mask indoors (except when eating or exercising).
  • No student or staff member identified as a close contact will be permitted to participate in overnight excursions, including school camps.
  • No apprentices, trainees or students on placement or staff member identified as a close contact will be permitted to attend settings identified as high risk by NSW Health (healthcare, aged care, disability care or correctional facilities)
  • Any visitor to a school site who is a close contact is required to advise the school that they are a close contact before they come on site. These visitors should conduct a daily RAT and return a negative result before attending. They must also wear a mask indoors at all times. Schools should consider if the visit can be conducted virtually.

Catholic Schools NSW will continue to work with Diocesan offices and RI/MPJP schools around temporary use of additional COVID- smart measures for short periods of time based on localised risk assessments.

Students and staff at greater risk of serious illness, if they were to contract COVID-19, should speak with their health care professional to review their health support plan or COVID-19 action plan and speak with the school about any local considerations.

Testing

Remember: Staff and students cannot attend school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

If symptoms occur at any time, your child should not attend school and should undertake a rapid antigen test (RAT).

Additional delivery of RATs will be provided for students and staff who are identified as close contacts and are returning to school.

All students and staff will receive 1 multipack of RAT kits within the first three weeks of Term 2. The RAT kits can be used for symptomatic testing or for daily testing as part of the close contact requirements. Note that students and staff in specialist centres or support classes or who utilise assisted transport who are identified as close contacts must not attend school and learn from home.

Additional RAT kits will also be sent out to ECE services to support symptomatic testing or for daily testing as a close contact for ECE staff.

Beyond the provision of RATs, symptomatic students and staff should continue to access PCR and store-purchased RATs.

  • If a student is unwell and has any COVID-19 symptoms, they should always test for COVID-19.
  • If the test comes back negative for COVID-19, the student should still not return to school until either:
    • The student no longer has any symptoms, or
    • A medical certificate is provided to the school confirming that symptoms are explained by another diagnosis (such as hay fever)
  • It is important that students do not attend school if they are unwell, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19. Rapid antigen tests can produce false negative results and symptoms of other illnesses can also be similar to COVID-19, including flu, the common cold and stomach bugs. Health advice is that students who are sick should always stay home to rest and recover and avoid putting other students and staff at risk of getting sick.

It is recommended that students and staff that return to school after recovering from COVID-19 do not participate in rapid antigen testing for 12 weeks following release from self-isolation unless they develop new COVID-19 symptoms. This is due to NSW Health advice that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have a low risk of contracting it again in the following 12 weeks.

Students and staff may receive a nasal or saliva rapid antigen testing kit from their school. All RAT kits contain instructions on how to use the tests, check results and dispose of the tests safely. Parents, carers and staff can also download user guides of the relevant test they have received through the Therapeutic Goods Administration website. The user guides contain a contact number for the suppliers for additional support. People using saliva testing kits must not eat or drink for 30 minutes before taking the saliva RAT, to give more accurate results.

For positive COVID-19 cases

If there is a positive case in your child’s class, year or other grouping, your child can continue to attend school in line with NSW Health advice.

If a student or staff member receives a positive RAT test, they need to:

  • record the positive RAT result through the Service NSW website or Service NSW app – please add details of your child’s school or early childhood education centre when prompted
  • notify the school of the positive RAT or PCR test result as soon as possible
  • follow NSW Health advice to isolate for 7 days.

Registering your child’s positive RAT with Service NSW is a requirement of the Public Health Order and helps NSW Health track COVID-19 in schools and address any public health issues early on if required.

Negative results do not need to be reported to Service NSW or to the school.

Schools will inform their community when there is a positive case in the school and guide families on NSW Health advice, including monitoring for symptoms. Parents should expect regular communication.

For more information, including COVID-19 guidelines and fact sheets, refer to People who tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19.

Visitors on school grounds

Schools and early childhood education can invite visitors – including parents, carers and families – to their sites regardless of their vaccination status, in line with settings in the broader community.

Workers and volunteers must meet mandatory vaccination requirements including:

  • volunteers or staff operating uniform shops and canteens
  • visitors supporting school operations and curriculum delivery
  • allied health partners for the wellbeing of students
  • university and TAFE students attending school sites to complete their practicum or teacher training.

Vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection against severe illness and reduces the risk of spreading it to others. All staff on school sites must meet mandatory double vaccination requirements against COVID-19 in line with the current Public Health Order.

We strongly recommend all eligible students (and their families) who are 5 years and older get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Booster vaccinations are available and recommended for anyone 16 years and older who received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 3 months prior.

For further details, refer to NSW Health Booster vaccination. To book an appointment near you, visit the Find a vaccine clinic website.

Please note that the NSW Government announced that the current Public Health Order mandating vaccination for education and care workers will not be extended beyond its current term, at which time the wider community will move to a risk-based assessment approach for all workplaces. The department is currently working with NSW Health to determine how this change will be implemented in our schools and early childhood education sites.

NSW Health also recommend getting vaccinated against flu. Flu has different effects of COVID-19 and often affects children more severely than COVID-19. Flu vaccines are free for all children aged 6 months to 5 years, and for a small charge for those aged 5 years and older.

Cohorting

Schools are not required to keep students in their class or year group cohorts. This means schools do not need to stagger start and finish times and can conduct cross-year group activities and events such as assemblies.

Masks

Masks are not mandatory for staff in primary schools and early childhood settings and for staff and students in high schools.

In line with community settings, workers who support our students with disability in specialist centres, support units and some mainstream classrooms will be required to wear masks while working with students.

Masks are still required on school sites for anyone doing any of the following types of work:

  • NDIS services
  • ATSP services – drivers and Assisted Travel Support Officers
  • education and/or support of a student with a disability in an specialist centre, support unit or mainstream setting where the student is dependent on the worker for mobility, health care, personal care, or constant supervision to minimise harm – including:
    • school learning support officers
    • school counselling staff
    • learning and support teachers
    • early intervention staff
    • itinerant support teachers
    • assistant principals (hearing or vision)
    • assistant principals learning and support
    • support teachers transition
    • classroom teachers
    • allied health professionals engaged through the allied health pre-qualification scheme
    • attendant carers engaged through third-party providers.

Staff and students will be supported to wear a mask if they choose to do so.

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).

Additionally, mask wearing is mandatory for staff and high school students returning to school as close contacts for 5 school days and recommended for primary school students returning to school as close contacts for 5 school days. Where students or staff are unable to wear a mask, they will be supported to learn or work remotely.

In certain circumstances NSW Health and the Department of Education may advise that certain COVID-smart measures be temporarily reintroduced at your school. Your principal will work with Health and the department and provide further details of any changes to COVID-smart measures at your school when required.

Ventilation

Fresh air is the most effective form of ventilation to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Using outdoor spaces will continue to be encouraged.

As we move into the colder months, heating will be used in conjunction with windows and doors remaining slightly open to continue to allow natural ventilation. Using outdoor spaces will continue to be encouraged where possible.

Hygiene and cleaning 

Students and staff are encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.

Schools will continue to use enhanced cleaning processes. Target areas include high-touch areas, hard surfaces, door handles, lockers, light switches and handrails in stairways and areas where students and staff move through regularly.

Community use of school sites

Community use of school sites including community sports, playgroups, schools as community centres and for Parent and Friends Association meetings are permitted. The school should have plans in place to avoid interaction between the community users and school students and staff.

  • Community use of school sites should use outdoor spaces and be held after hours where possible.
  • Community use of school sites should follow all relevant NSW Government rules.
  • A Community Use Acknowledgement must be in place.
  • All facilitators of activities must meet mandatory double vaccination requirements. Parents, carers and other visitors participating do not need to be vaccinated.
  • Community users during school hours must also check in as visitors.

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 our schools this winter such as the flu. We can all protect our loved ones and our community by:

  • staying home if unwell.
  • keeping up to date with our vaccinations – including the flu vaccine, which is available from your local GP, pharmacy or Aboriginal Medical Service now. Flu vaccines are free for all children aged 6 months to under 5 years, or for a small charge for those aged 5 years and older.
  • getting tested immediately for COVID-19 if you become symptomatic and isolating until you receive a negative result.
  • practicing good hand hygiene by washing regularly with soap and water.
  • taking a RAT before visiting vulnerable loved ones or going to large gatherings and events.

Specific activities

Guidelines have been provided to schools on how to assess activities with a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and apply appropriate safeguards.

Parents and carers will be made aware of those risks and will need to give their permission for participation in extra-curricular, out-of-school hours or off-site activities.

Learning from home

Where face-to-face learning is not possible, learning from home options will be supported for short periods.


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