COVID-19 restrictions for NSW schools to be tightened for term three

Aug 18, 2020 by

By Natassia Chrysanthos –

Students must stay within their year groups and inter-school activities will be confined to local communities under tightened coronavirus guidelines for NSW schools in term three.

Sports competitions bringing together schools from different parts of Sydney will be called off, while year 12 graduations must take place without parents or be relegated to later in the year.

Sydney Girls High School in Surry Hills was closed on Monday due to COVID-19.

Sydney Girls High School in Surry Hills was closed on Monday due to COVID-19.Credit: Kate Geraghty

The NSW Department of Education will also require any staff member or student with flu-like symptoms to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they return to school.

The measures, which all school sectors have agreed to follow from Wednesday, come as three girls’ high schools were closed on Monday due to coronavirus cases among students. Students from Tangara School for Girls in Cherrybrook and Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta are learning from home for two weeks, while Sydney Girls High School in Surry Hills will reopen on Tuesday after a student attended while infectious on August 6, 7, 10 and 11.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the new restrictions aimed to reduce high-risk transmission events based on lessons from recent school cases.

She said basic measures – such as sick children not coming to school, social distancing and hand hygiene – were still crucial.

“We’ve then identified some other activities [that] have posed increased risk, and that’s the basis of the advice we’ve provided,” Dr Chant said.

Students must remain within their year groups to limit mixing during the school day, while school groups are no longer permitted to travel outside their local community or zone for inter-school activities.

There was confusion over how the new guidelines would affect sporting competitions that bring together schools from different parts of the city, such as the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools, known as the GPS. Its members will meet on Tuesday.

The Associated Schools of NSW competition (CAS) – which involves independent schools such as Barker, Trinity and Waverley College – will not hold any further matches in its winter sports season, sources told the Herald.

Australia has recorded 25 COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours – the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

Dr Chant said the restrictions would help limit “seeding events” across NSW, where people contracted the virus at a sporting event in another area and brought it home.

At sports games held within the same community, students from different schools cannot mix unless participating in an event. Attendance will be limited to 100 people, and parent spectators are not permitted within school grounds or at sports events held during school hours.

Larger events with more than one school, such as round robins and gala days, are not permitted.

Formals, dances and graduations have also been called off this term, with schools told they should not promote or sanction social activities organised by third parties.

They may hold assemblies to recognise year 12 graduation, but these must proceed without parents or be delayed. If in-house graduations go ahead, students should bring their own food or schools should only offer single-portion packaged refreshments with disposable plates and cutlery.

NSW Secondary Principals’ Council president Craig Petersen said some schools were planning to livestream graduation ceremonies for parents to watch from home.

“But it’s still going to come as a blow, particularly for some of our smaller schools in regional areas that might only have 15 kids,” he said.

He said most principals appreciated the need to contain the spread of COVID-19 and would welcome the measures.

Dr Chant said she expected schools across the government, Catholic and independent sectors to embrace the recommendations, even though they are not enforceable.

“[The sectors] have asked for clear guidance and clear strong language,” she said. “We’ve achieved many things by applying good common sense and working co-operatively.”

Chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW Dallas McInerney said his sector would continue to swiftly implement government advice and was grateful for the clarity provided.

Geoff Newcombe, chief executive of the NSW Association of Independent Schools, said the private schools he represented would follow advice, including measures about sports competitions.

With Jordan Baker

Source: Coronavirus NSW: COVID-19 restrictions for NSW schools to be tightened for term three

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.