Formals, dances, graduation ceremonies, choirs and all social events have been banned in NSW government schools in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
A string of school closures, the latest being Sydney Girls High on Monday, has prompted the NSW Education department to announce new COVID-safe rules.
From Wednesday all public schools in the state will be required to adopt the changes to ensure communities remain safe inside and outside the school gate, said an education department statement issued on Monday.
A man in his 80s became NSW’s latest virus fatality on Sunday, taking the state’s toll to 54. The coronavirus has claimed 421 Australian lives.
But NSW had just five new cases on Sunday, its lowest number since July 12.
All were locally acquired infections. Three of the five are connected to the Tangara School for Girls cluster, which has so far been linked to 25 cases in total, in Cherrybrook in Sydney’s northwest.
The three are linked to previous Tangara cases who visited four separate venues between August 2 and August 8.
Under other measures introduced for schools, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 is prohibited from returning to school until a negative test result has been reported.
Additional measures for term three:
- Students must remain within their relevant class or year group to limit mixing;
- Schools must not travel outside their local community or zone, including between rural and regional areas;
- Interschool sport and zone carnivals are restricted to 100 people per venue and must be held in the local area;
- Spectators, including parents and carers, are not permitted within school grounds or at sporting events held during school hours;
- All group singing and other chanting activities, as well as the use of wind instruments in group settings, are banned;
- Dance activities and drama group work can continue under a COVID-19 Safety Plan;
- School formals, dances, graduations or other social events are banned;
- Schools may hold a year 12 assembly at school without parents to recognise the completion of school, or consider delaying events until later in the year.
However students and staff required to support HSC students are permitted to undertake activities to meet their HSC requirements with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
Organisations that use school buildings or grounds must utilise a COVID-19 safety plan and encourage strict compliance.
The new restrictions are in addition to existing health advice for schools, including maintaining good hand hygiene, physical distancing for adults and the banning of non-essential school visitors.