26 September 2023

Schools ready for another COVID Term

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NSW schools are to implement additional COVID-smart rules this Term to keep staff and students protected in the classroom.

NSW Education Secretary, Georgina Harrisson said the additional measures followed a comprehensive and independent risk assessment, consideration of school operations, as well as feedback from staff, unions and other stakeholders.

“The settings are similar to last term, but we are being extra vigilant to get the term off to the best start – supporting our staff and students with extra supplies of rapid antigen tests and masks, and encouraging them to stay at home if unwell,” Ms Harrisson said.

She said that as part of a ‘four-week blitz’ at the start of Term 3 some measures had been scaled up, including an increased supply of rapid antigen tests (RAT) for symptomatic testing of staff and students – which are to be sent home with students this week.

“For all of Term 3, masks continue to be required for staff who interact with students at greater risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19,” Ms Harrisson said.

“Masks are strongly encouraged indoors for all members of staff and visitors to mainstream schools,” she said.

“All students will also be encouraged to wear masks; these will be provided in classrooms and additional supplies made available to schools.”

The Secretary said day-time cleaning at schools would be increased while students and staff were onsite.

She said there would also be strong messaging about the importance of staff and students not attending school or work when unwell, even if it was the mildest of symptoms, and ventilation in schools would continue to be maximised.

Ms Harrisson said the Department would continue to direct individual schools to temporarily adopt ‘circuit breaker’ measures if there were increasing case numbers across multiple cohorts week-on-week and/or increasing case numbers in staff.

She said the measures may include ceasing large indoor gatherings, ceasing off-site and inter-school activities, limiting visitors entering education sites, enhanced cleaning, and learning from home.

“The Department of Education will be removing the mandatory vaccination requirement for all staff, except for those working in or with Schools for Specific Purpose (SSPs), where students may be at greater risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19,” the Secretary said.

“The Department will continue to provide vaccination leave to staff so they can receive a COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster shot.”

Further information on Education’s COVID-smart measures can be accessed at this PS News link.

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