When Greater Sydney began to see a surge in locally acquired cases of COVID-19, school communities braced for the inevitable lockdown that would soon follow.
For many principals, teachers, parents and students, the question was what Term 3 would look like given worrying signals that government messaging around exercising COVID-Safe guidelines is falling on deaf ears to many.
Since the NSW Government announced a lockdown of Greater Sydney on June 25, cases have been steadily climbing, along with the number of people identified as infectious whilst in the community. Today, NSW Health announced 44 new cases, pointing out that 29 of these were infectious whilst in the community.
To provide clarity to the state’s schools about what they can expect for Term 3, the NSW Education Department has released an update, saying that based on Health advice, the first week of Term 3 for schools in NSW will either be under a learning from home model or with strict COVID restrictions.
Beyond the first week of Term 3 strict COVID safe restrictions will be in place.
NSW Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, said she understood it was a challenging time for students, staff and parents, but she has complete confidence that schools are prepared to manage the restrictions.
“For the first week of Term 3 we will have different settings in schools impacted by the stay-at-home orders to those that are not,” Minister Mitchell said.
For schools inside areas impacted by the stay-at-home orders (Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour):
- For the first four days of Term 3 students will be learning from home.
- This will stay in place until Friday 16 July.
- Schools will remain open for students and families who need it.
- Masks will be required for all staff in all school settings, and students from Year 7 upwards.
For schools outside areas impacted by the stay-at-home orders (Regional NSW):
- For the first week of Term 3 students will be back at school for face to face learning.
- Schools will restrict non-essential visitors at school sites, including parents.
- Adjustments will be made to some activities, such as choir and band.
- Masks will be recommended for all staff in all school settings, and students from Year 7 upwards.
“All students across NSW will return to face-to-face learning from Monday 19 July,” Mitchell said, adding that schools across areas impacted by stay-at-home orders are ready to operate learning from home for their students.
“All schools recently completed a readiness assessment to prepare for any potential return to learning from home”.
Minister Mitchell said she is confident that the state’s schools are prepared for learning from home for the first four days of Term 3, using combinations of digital and printed learning packs similar to those used last year.
‘HSC to continue as planned’
The Minister also confirmed that the HSC will continue as planned, with the HSC oral language, performance and practical exams scheduled to go ahead in Term 3 and written exams in Term 4.
“To our HSC students I say please stay calm, focus on your studies and look after each other,” Minister Mitchell said.
“NESA has arrangements in place to ensure no student is disadvantaged if they have been unable to work on HSC major projects during the holiday period, or they are affected by extended stay-at-home orders.”