To ensure the continued health and wellbeing of our students, staff and school communities, please find an update in relation to COVID-19 (previously referred to as Novel Coronavirus).
While only a small number of COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in New South Wales with no known community transmission, the Department continues to work closely with NSW Ministry of Health to monitor international developments.
With numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing, overseas and community concerns about the possible development of an international pandemic, we can assure you that the Department has been operating in accordance with its pandemic plan. We will implement relevant actions, based on advice from the NSW Ministry of Health, which we will communicate to you as soon as possible when decisions are made.
We will keep you updated as this work progresses to ensure you stay informed on developments.
Effective 1 March 2020 the Federal Government has issued a travel ban on foreigners coming to Australia from Iran. Only Australian citizens and permanent residents coming from Iran will be allowed entry to Australia and from 1 March they are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days after departing Iran consistent with the restrictions for those entering from China. Additionally, Australians have been advised NOT to travel to Iran.
The updated advice from the NSW Government for parents and affected staff is:
- Any student or staff member who has been in, or transited through, mainland China (not just Hubei province) or has been in Iran is excluded from work, school or child care services for 14 days from the date they left mainland China or Iran (as the COVID-19 incubation period can be as long as two weeks).
- Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return.
- Close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
- Students and staff who have returned to Australia from mainland China or Iran more than 14 days ago and have shown no symptoms are able to return to school.
The NSW Ministry of Health has processes to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia. Advice about not attending school would be provided to these close contacts by the NSW Ministry of Health.
Schools should report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Incident Report and Support Hotline on 1800 811 523.
Consistent with the Department of Education current guidelines, staff and students unwell with respiratory illness should remain at home until symptoms resolve. If any student becomes unwell, we will implement our infection control guidelines and follow the advice provided by the NSW Ministry of Health as appropriate.
Further information on COVID-19 is also available from NSW Health.
Overseas Travel/school Excursions
With the current COVID-19 situation, the safety of our students and staff is paramount and it is for this reason that all overseas excursions are required to be now placed on hold until further notice. If you have an excursion planned for later in Term 1 you will need to make the necessary arrangement to cancel the excursion or consider rescheduling until later in the year. Exceptional circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Travel Exemptions for Years 11 and 12 students
On 22 February 2020 the Australian Government announced a strict framework to allow small numbers of Years 11 and 12 students who remain in China (but excluding Hubei Province) due to Australian travel restrictions to resume their studies in Australia in recognition of the importance of the final two years of school.
This week the Department has been working closely with the Australian Government and NSW Ministry of Health to put in place strict measures to assure the health and safety of our students, staff and school communities. We have been establishing a clear process for NSW schools to manage the return of students in Years 11 and 12 from mainland China and further information will be provided to you next week.
The Australian Government has advised that the relaxation on travel exemptions for Year 11 and 12 students will not pose a risk to the community.
Only students enrolled at NSW schools and granted approval to travel from the Australian Border Force Commissioner will be allowed entry to Australia. This approval will be on a case by case basis and must be granted prior to a student undertaking travel to Australia.
Students (and their accompanying guardian) must meet the following criteria:
- be a current international student visa holder, granted on or before 22 February 2020, and be enrolled in an eligible year 11 or 12 course;
- not currently be unwell;
- not travelling from, or via, Hubei province in China;
- have a stable residential address at their point of entry into Australia to enable self-isolation for 14 days; and
- be willing and able to meet the quarantine requirements set out by state or territory health authorities.
Students deemed exempt from the travel restriction arriving in Australia will be subject to the same enhanced border measures that apply for Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from China.
Every student will undertake a 14 day isolation period upon arrival, which will be assured by NSW Health. Students will also be given information about how to obtain medical attention if they experience symptoms whilst in self-isolation.
More information about this travel exemption is available from the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment.
No student or families currently under Australian travel restrictions in China should make travel arrangements out of China, based on this process, until they get official approval from the Australian Government.
Practising Good Hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene standards is an important way to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections and the department’s infection control procedures provide a range of practical strategies for schools to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. Hand washing is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease.
The Department of Education will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep our community up to date on this matter.