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Children and students with disability – COVID-19 and safety

(This page was last updated on 23 April 2020.)

This COVID-19 advice applies to school and preschool ages and is for:

  • parents and carers of a child with disability
  • children or students with disability.

Safety for a child with disability

A child with disability is safe at school and preschool.

Coronavirus does not appear to be spread easily among children.

Because of this, the risk of a child spreading the disease in a school or preschool is much lower than other diseases. For example, it is lower than other diseases like influenza.

See Coronavirus: what is it – easy read. This can help if you:

  • need to explain coronavirus to someone
  • want to read about it.

Hygiene and infection control

Schools and preschools are following standard precautions for hygiene and infection control. This includes regular hand washing and cleaning of high frequency classroom touch points. For example:

  • cleaning of door handles and lift buttons
  • wiping down of common high touch surfaces such as meeting room tables, administration areas (reception desks), tables in libraries and school buses. 

We are helping to organise extra cleaning of classrooms.  

A child should stay home if they are:

  • unwell
  • have flu-like symptoms.

Significant medical or health support needs

A child with significant medical needs is safe at school and preschool. You can talk to a health support worker about this.

Access Assistance Program health support workers

Talk to your child’s health support worker, if they have one.

Your child’s safety is a decision between you and your child’s treating health team. They can advise about:

  • your child’s clinical vulnerability 
  • decisions about whether to isolate. 

Health care plans might need to change after these conversations.  

Self-isolation – learning from home

If your child needs to self-isolate for a long time, they can still learn from home. The school or preschool must provide a program for continued education from home. 

See Coronavirus: staying at home – easy read. This can help if you:

  • need to explain staying at home and self-isolation
  • want to read about what it means.

Toileting, feeding and other personal care support plans

School and preschool staff will still follow standard precautions for infection control. This includes:

  • washing hands 
  • using appropriate personal protective equipment. For example, gloves when doing health procedures or personal care.

Challenging behaviours – safety

If a child has a challenging behaviour they are not at an increased risk. SA Health advises that the risk is extremely low. This includes for:

  • staff
  • children
  • students.

A challenging behaviour might be spitting or biting.

Reducing the risk

School and preschool staff will manage a child or student’s behaviour. They will follow standard:

  • whole of site and individual behaviour support plans 
  • safety and risk management plans (if they apply). 

Some plans might change to include:

  • proactive learning 
  • strategies to support social distancing and hygiene.

Example strategies include:

  • social stories about hand washing
  • explicit teaching of social distancing for safety. 

See Coronavirus: social distancing – easy read. This can help if you:

  • need to explain social distancing to someone.
  • want to read about what it means.

Transport Assistance Program – still running

School transport runs have not stopped. They will continue while students are:

  • still going to school  
  • need transport assistance. 

Transport providers clean vehicles before and after transport runs. Claims for financial assistance work as usual.

NDIS services in schools and preschools – limited

Due to social distancing, going in and out of sites is limited. This includes service providers. It is only:

  • priority and essential services for children, students and staff
  • services specifically asked for by the principal, preschool director or education director.

Your child’s principal or preschool director will decide if the service is essential. 

The NDIS is the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Children who receive funded support – learning from home

If your child needs to learn from home, they will be supported by the same staff who are already employed with your child’s preschool or school. 

These staff will help deliver your child’s learning program at home. For each child and family, they will help make:

  • personalised resources and materials for use at home
  • access to online content if possible.

Personalised learning and support needs – learning at home

Teachers are responsible for any personalised learning programs for use at home. They will get in contact with you about this. 

Help from special groups

There is also help for families from:

These groups can help you set up a learning program at home. They can also help with learning support materials and resources. 

Suitable learning materials

The department’s disability advisors are reviewing:

  • curriculum resources 
  • learning materials.

They will check to see how suitable these are for a child or student with disability.

From term 2, 2020 resources will be on Our Learning SA for:

  • teachers
  • parents and carers of children and students with disability
  • children and students with disability. 

School or preschool staff will talk to you about what suits your family.

More information

Parents and carers should contact their school or preschool at first.

General members of the public can call the South Australia COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) or visit www.sa.gov.au/covid-19.

Easy-read coronavirus (COVID-19) resources

Translated coronavirus (COVID-19) resources

For general COVID-19 information in a different language refer to:

You can use Google translate to help translate information on our website.

Contact

Parents and carers should contact their school or preschool at first.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) team

Emaileducation.covidcoordination [at] sa.gov.au