Sydney (Tribune International, NSW Government Release, 25 Nov 2021); Close contacts of COVID cases at schools and outside school hours care services will no longer need to isolate as a result of changes in school COVID settings announced today by the NSW Government.
The changes were made following recent Doherty Institute and NSW Health advice, and will take effect from
Monday 29 November.
From 29 November, students who are close contacts of a positive case will be required to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of exposure. If the PCR test is negative, the student may return to school immediately, so long as they provide negative Rapid Antigen Home Test (RAHT) results for the next seven consecutive days.
In line with community settings, schools will no longer need to close while contact tracing occurs due to successful cohorting of year groups on school sites. The only exception may be if there are multiple cases at a school or complex settings in place.
NSW Health has also advised that schools do not need to close for deep environmental cleans as the enhanced cleaning in place at schools is sufficient.
Mask settings remain the same, meaning they are required for all staff and high school students, and are recommended for primary school students.
Further restrictions on music have also been lifted, with instruments that rely on breath and singing and chanting allowed to go ahead outdoors, within cohorts, and in line with other COVID-safe school settings from Monday.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the changes give parents the confidence that schools will no longer be closing and their children will not be required to isolate at home.
“The people of NSW have worked hard to get to this point, and the government made a commitment that whenever possible we would reduce the disruption to schools,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Schools have managed the pandemic extremely well, I want to thank all staff for the way they have conducted themselves and the efforts they have made to reduce the impacts of COVID on their students.”
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said parents and students were keen to see less disruption in schools.
“I’m delighted we can reduce the disruption for students and families, while still maintaining the safety measures for students and staff on school sites,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Students already in isolation can return to school from Monday under this new approach.”