Executive Director’s Update to Principals #124: COVID Update - 22 Nov 2021
God who gives life,
God of all who give life to others, we are never alone in our sorrows, and never alone in our joy.
Being human means to know a tethered link to one another. The pretty world we look upon remains an empty vessel if we do not fill our landscapes with the memory of each other.
And so we give you thanks
that even in separation
and past the final cut of death
we remain your co-creators, making life with those we love.
~ The Corrymeela Community
Exception to the Directions for students aged 12 to 15 and not fully vaccinated
The Deputy Secretary, David Howes, of the Department of Education and Training (DET) provided via email last night further information in relation to participation by students aged between 12 and 15 who are not fully vaccinated, in school activities held at external premises.
Howes said, “At present, students aged between 12 and 15 who are not fully vaccinated can attend if the premises is being operated only for the purpose of one school using the premises exclusively.
The Department of Health has advised the Department of Education and Training that students aged between 12 and 15 who are not fully vaccinated will be able to attend camps, excursions, graduations, and other school activities held at open premises that are also used by other schools or patrons from Tuesday 23 November.
This exception to the current Directions will apply only to school-organised activities when at least one teacher is present.
The Department of Education and Training will update the School Operations Guide to reflect this advice.”
The Open Premises Directions will be amended today to reflect this. We anticipate this will be in place from tomorrow.
Note we are still awaiting the updated SOG from DET via CECV.
Changes to management of cases and close contacts
We have now received more details on the changes that apply both to new cases and new or existing close contacts, which took effect at 11.59 pm 18 November 2021.
- The most important change is that non-household contacts will now only be required to quarantine until they complete a standard PCR test and receive a negative result. The Department of Health will no longer send a text to confirm the quarantine requirements of contacts.
- This applies to all students and staff who are identified as a school-based contact (formerly primary close contacts or PCCs) and listed on the spreadsheet you submit following notification of a confirmed case at your school.
- All contacts (staff and students) can return to school after they have provided evidence of a negative PCR test to their school.
- All contacts should follow the strong recommendation that they complete five days of rapid antigen testing each morning before attending school.
- Contacts will receive a pack of five rapid antigen tests from the PCR testing location and should take the test each day before school until they run out. Schools will no longer distribute rapid antigen testing kits. Instead, these will be available for collection from PCR testing centres at the time a student or staff member attends for the PCR test from Monday 22 November.
- Any student or staff member who returns a positive rapid antigen test result must notify the school and immediately get a PCR test.
- In exceptional circumstances, the Department of Health may determine that contacts in significant school outbreaks are still required to quarantine for seven days. In this scenario, students will be notified directly of any additional quarantine arrangements.
- For schools with students and staff who are currently under existing quarantine requirements, the above arrangements apply, and they will be able to return to school immediately with evidence of a negative PCR test.
A letter for parents/carers (Word document) has been created to support your communication about the changes. While these changes will require another adjustment to school operations, they will considerably simplify the management of contacts and will enable more students to return to onsite learning more quickly.
If you require additional advice, please speak with your Education Consultant or Ange Jones via email or on 0400 831 040.
- Face masks will now only be required by staff, visitors, and Years 3 to 6 students in an indoor space within a primary school (or schools which have primary students, such as a P–12 school).
- The wearing of masks remains recommended for Prep to Year 2 students and in circumstances where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Masks are no longer required in secondary school settings but are recommended where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
COVID Briefing for Principals – TODAY
A reminder that a COVID Briefing will be held for Principals this afternoon, Monday 22 November, from 2 to 3pm via this Zoom link.
The meeting will be recorded and made available to Principals. Should you have questions you would like to raise in advance of the meeting, please forward them to Ange Jones. A response to these queries will be included in the COVID Brief where that information is available.
Next COVID Update
We will continue to monitor the situation and advise principals of any updates. Please liaise with the COVID Support team (see left hand column) or your Education Consultant with any questions or concerns.
Stay safe and continue to look after each other…
Assistant Director: People and Development