Executive Director’s Update to Principals #8: COVID Update - 9 February 2022
- COVID communication to all employees
- COVID Update (VC) for principals
- Rapid Antigen Test deliveries
- Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for weeks 3 and 4
- Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for exempted workers
- About the exemption
- Quarantine Isolation and Testing Order – maintain a local register
- Obligations of DOBCEL – maintain a central register
God of the branches, God of the vine, God of the fruit that will last,
when much of the familiar is pruned away -- the work routine, the school run,
the certainty of our day – may we see what is good and true blossom in reassuring ways:
colleagues working as one,
children learning from home,
May these days of great disruption bear out what is always true:
that we can reach others with the love you provide
when we remain in you.
~ The Corrymeela Community
COVID communication to all employees
The Weekly Newsletter issued today will include information for staff that may clarify the requirements for a COVIDSafe workplace/school. Including:
- Leave types for people who need to isolate and not attend work due to a positive result for COVID-19 or being classified as a household contact
- Vaccination requirements and FAQ
Please encourage staff to read it and discuss with you any questions they may have.
COVID Update (VC) for principals
We invite all principals to a COVID discussion via Zoom on Friday 11 February 2022 from 10.00 to 10.45 am. For secondary Principals, you are welcome, but it is not expected that the information presented at this meeting will be different to your Thursday meeting.
- Zoom meeting link
- Meeting ID:
835 2203 9032
- Passcode: 349523
The discussion will be recorded and shared with principals after the session for those unable to attend in person.
Invitations have been sent to all primary Principals inviting you to 3 sessions over the next 4 weeks. These will take place each Friday morning, not including next week as we have included a COVID Update as part of the Leadership Gathering next Thursday.
Rapid Antigen Test deliveries
The present stock of rapid antigen tests is expected to cover schools for the next two weeks. Another delivery of tests is expected between 7-11 February.
Thank you to schools for completing the Google Form to provide Catholic Education Ballarat with details of the number of RAT kits delivered to your school for the first 2 weeks of term. Debbie Stabek, Grant Victor-Gordon, and Simon O’Brien are collating this information and will provide an update to the Department of Education and Training to resolve any shortfall on behalf of those schools.
Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for weeks 3 and 4
The Department of Education and Training is responsible for the delivery of RATs to all Victorian schools to enable the voluntary, twice-weekly testing for staff and students in the first four weeks of term.
We appreciate the challenge many have faced in the delay in receiving RATs or not getting enough to fully cover your school. The DET has advised:
- please contact us directly at email@example.com.
- Please ensure only one member of staff per school makes contact (to prevent duplication of orders).
- Please provide the information in the same way as supplied to CEB including:
- School name and full address for delivery
- School contact name, phone, and email
- Your current staff and student numbers
- How many kits have you received
- How many kits you require for a 2-week period
- How many kits you are requesting (if there is a shortfall)
Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for exempted workers
Education Workers who are close contacts (meaning household or household-like contacts) may be exempt from quarantine requirements to attend work.
- any person who is employed by an education operator to work in an education facility (including teachers and educational support staff)
- a person contracted to work at an education facility and who will or may be in close proximity to children, students or staff, whether or not engaged by the education operator including casual relief teachers, NDIS providers and auditors (but does not include delivery personnel)
- cleaners working at education facilities.
- We have been informed that those employees can attend a public health COVID-19 testing site to request a RAT kit to enable them to undertake a daily rapid antigen test for 5 days and return a negative result prior to commencing work
About the exemption
- only applies to close contacts who have no symptoms and have returned a negative rapid antigen test each day for 5 days, before attending work
- only allows the worker to attend work.
- when not at the workplace, exempted workers must otherwise comply with all quarantine requirements.
If at any time the exempted worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a rapid antigen test, the exemption no longer applies. If the person tests positive – they are a case and must isolate for 7 days. They must notify their employer.
Employers who are exempting workers must:
- determine the worker's attendance at work is necessary for the operations of the critical service (and, for example, the worker cannot perform their role from home);
- respect the individual rights of workers and not direct their workers to attend work if they don’t consent
- ensure that the worker’s work breaks are taken in an area separate from other workers (and arrange staggered break times if there is only one break room)
- take reasonable steps to ensure the worker does not share facilities or amenities with other staff, if practicable
Exempted workers must:
- notify their employer that they are a close contact and are eligible for exemption from quarantine to attend work only, and be requested by their employer to return
- undertake a daily rapid antigen test for 5 days and return a negative result prior to commencing work
- wear face masks at all times while at work and while travelling to and from work
- use of N95/P2 masks are preferred generally
- exceptions include eating/drinking, escaping harm or emergency reasons
- must not enter shared break areas with other workers
- must not share facilities or amenities with other staff if possible, and follow all employer directions if they must use shared facilities
Note: while the exemption only allows a worker to attend work, they can also use the bathroom, pay for fuel or buy takeaway food while travelling to work or if required for work. A mask is required at all times unless exceptions apply.
Quarantine Isolation and Testing Order – maintain a local register
The Quarantine, Isolation and Testing Order No.5 (the ‘Order’)has been amended to place additional notification obligations on education facility operators. The objective of this Order is to require persons to limit the spread of COVID-19 including by requiring persons:
- diagnosed with COVID-19 to self-isolate.
- who are living with a diagnosed person or who have been in close contact with a diagnosed person, to self-quarantine and undertake testing.
The requirement for schools under this order requires that:
Operators must collect and record information about:
- the dates they are notified of diagnosed (PCR) or probable cases (RAT) who attended the facility while infectious,
- the dates such people attended the site, and
- maintain a list of all the workers at the facility who have been identified as exposed persons.
Schools have been maintaining a local register of all staff and student notifications of a confirmed case. This meets the requirement noted in the first two dot points.
We understand that schools have already developed a template for this purpose. From next week please use this DOBCEL template – COVID-19 Local Register Confirmed Cases (or adapt yours to ensure each of the fields on the template is included).
The third dot point requirement, DET advises that this should not create an additional administrative burden as there is the practice of informing staff and students/families who have been exposed through the exposure notification template letter provided in COVID Update # 7 - 1 Feb 2022, and this is sufficient. In a school setting, so long as we maintain a register of diagnosed workers and household or household like contacts, our timetabling and staff attendance requirements enable traceability of exposed persons
Schools, therefore, should retain a copy of the email or other written correspondence, showing who it was sent to as a record to satisfy this requirement.
Obligations of DOBCEL – maintain a central register
The Department of Education and Training (DET) has indicated to CECV (Catholic Education Commission Victoria) that all Catholic Education Offices are required to maintain a deidentified central register for all schools in their Diocese, to report to the Department of Health weekly. This will also apply to Government and Independent schools.
Therefore, for reporting purposes to both the Board and Government, all schools in the Diocese of Ballarat are required to email their local register to Catholic Education Ballarat (CEB) via firstname.lastname@example.org by 10.00 am Friday 11 February 2022. This should include all notified confirmed cases for weeks 1 and 2 known at that time.
Thereafter, schools are required to submit a copy of their local register twice weekly each Wednesday and Friday by 10.00 am to email@example.com.
We are happy to receive a copy of your local register (noted above) to avoid duplication of effort. CEB will redact all staff/student names to ensure only de-identified reporting.
If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact Ange Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance.
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