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Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 for parents and carers

(This page was last updated 20 May 2020.)

This COVID-19 advice is for parents and carers of children attending a government school or preschool.

School operations

Are schools open?

Schools, preschools and early childhood services in South Australia are open, including out of school hours care (OSHC). We are following the health advice from our Chief Public Health Officer (PDF 132KB). Individual schools will only be temporarily closed if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19. We will follow our protocol in line with SA Health’s advice.

Do I have to send my child to school?

While we have been supporting parent choice during this pandemic, we now expect all public school students to attend their school or preschool.

Students are required to attend school unless they:

  • are feeling unwell
  • have a chronic medical condition or compromised immune system and are not able to attend school on advice from their medical practitioner
  • live in a household with others that are deemed vulnerable to COVID-19 and are not able to attend school on advice of their medical practitioner
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been required to self-isolate by SA Health.

Schools will continue to provide support, as they would usually do, for students not able to attend school on advice from their medical practitioner.

Please speak to your child’s teacher if you have any questions.

Has the health advice changed?

The health advice from our Chief Public Health Officer and the AHPPC is that schools, preschools and early childhood services should remain open. If your child is sick, they should not go to school.

Physical (social) distancing, good hygiene practices and increased cleaning at all schools and preschools will continue. The AHPPC’s latest advice is that maintaining 1.5m between students and the ‘venue density’ rule of no more than 1 person per 4 square metres is not appropriate or practical in classrooms or corridors.

AHPPC believes that adults in the school environment should practice room density measures (such as in staff rooms) given the greater risk of transmission between adults.

Will my school allow me to enter the school grounds to collect my child?

Schools have their own procedures for dropping off and collecting students at the start and end of the school day.

We encourage you to maintain physical distancing from other parents and teachers when attending school, including when dropping off and picking up children. We ask that you do not go on the school grounds, however we understand this might need to change because of a child's age and needs. If you need to get in contact with your child’s teacher, please phone or email your school instead. Please do not come into the front office or classrooms.

What happens if there’s a confirmed case?

If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in a staff member, student or child in one of our sites, the Department for Education will enact its protocols and follow SA Health advice. If the school must close, it will be for at least 24 hours. You will need to pick up your child immediately. Staff and students will be contacted and told when they can return to school as normal.

Hygiene

How does physical (social) distancing work in schools?

 

The AHPPC’s latest advice is that maintaining 1.5m between students and the ‘venue density’ rule of no more than 1 person per 4 square metres is not appropriate or practical in classrooms or corridors. 

AHPPC believes that adults in the school environment should practice room density measures (such as in staff rooms) given the greater risk of transmission between adults. 

Measures schools are using to help stop the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • using phone or other technology for parent teacher meetings
  • holding staff meetings in large rooms or via technology such as skype or Microsoft Teams
  • staggering recess and lunch breaks
  • asking parents not to come onto the school site where possible, but thinking about the age and needs of each child
  • increased daily cleaning of ‘high touch’ areas such as door handles, tables, light switches
  • daily clean of playground equipment.

If your child is sick, they must not go to school. You must keep them at home and away from others.

Remember to maintain physical (social) distancing from other parents and teachers when attending school, including when dropping off and picking up your children.

What health and hygiene practices do schools have?

Schools have existing infection control procedures that they will apply as needed. We have also given teachers resources so they can talk to their students about COVID-19 and explain good hygiene practices. This includes reminding students to:

  • wash their hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow or tissue
  • place used tissues straight in the bin
  • avoid touching their faces
  • not share food or drink
  • limit physical contact when greeting people
  • wash their hands with soap or hand sanitiser before and after using play equipment or playing in the sandpit
  • limit physical contact in the playground.

Will school cleaning processes be more thorough?

We have increased cleaning services at all South Australian public schools, preschools, children’s centres and offices. There is now an extra cleaning shift each day on top of the regular cleaning schedule. It includes more regular and thorough:

  • 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
  • cleaning any play equipment and not allowing the public to access play equipment.

What about schools that don’t have enough soap or hand towels?

We are contacting all schools and preschools to find out their current stock levels of hygiene products. We are centrally sourcing supplies and will organise distribution of supplies to schools and preschools who need it.

What cleaning is done on school buses?

Enhanced cleaning protocols have been put in place for all buses and student transport services, including taxis for students with disabilities.

What are you doing to ensure health and safety of staff?

Our staff have displayed professionalism and flexibility during these unprecedented times. To ensure the health and safety of our workforce, we have increased cleaning at all schools and are providing all schools and preschools with extra hygiene products.

We are also looking at flexible arrangements on a case by case basis for staff whose health or personal circumstances prevent them from working at a school, such as caring for a vulnerable family member.

Children and students with disability

See the children and students with disability page for more information.

Other school services

Which services in schools will continue?

Essential services and breakfast programs are continuing to operate.

We are limiting the movement of external service providers within our schools. Schools have been asked to suspend playgroups, some occasional care services and some external service providers. These arrangements remain in place until further notice. Please contact your school to enquire about which services are running.

Will my child’s music lessons/speech pathology sessions/sports clinic continue?

Individual schools are making decisions to continue or temporarily stop their school services and programs. Please contact your school to enquire about which programs are running.

Will NAPLAN go ahead this year?

All NAPLAN testing has been cancelled for 2020.

What will happen with SACE this year?

The SACE Board of South Australia has made a promise to students that they will learn in the SACE.

Read the message to parents and schools.

Watch the SACE video for teachers and parents.

Watch the SACE video for students.

Are child care services still available?

Yes. Where providers have vacancies, we encourage them to open these places up to families seeking a service. This includes families who haven’t used the OSHC before or go to school at a different site.

Information about the subsidies available for parents to access OSHC can be found at Services Australia.

Will school buses still run?

School buses, both yellow and contracted services, will continue to operate as per normal routes and timetables.

School governing council and management committee employees

What advice is there for parents and carers employed by school governing councils or management committees?

There is help for governing councils to access JobKeeper payments for their operations and to find out more about their superannuation.

To be eligible for JobKeeper payments, governing councils must demonstrate that their activities (OSHC/Vacation Care, canteen and other activities) have had a reduction in turnover of at least 30% in March or April 2020 compared to the same period as last year.

All governing councils who intend to apply for JobKeeper payments for April must follow all steps specified by the ATO by 30 April 2020. The timelines are short but unavoidable. Help is available if you have difficulty meeting these timelines. Speak to your school principal or preschool director.

More information about the JobKeeper initiative is on the ATO website:

If a government school or children’s centre has to close for cleaning due to a confirmed case of COVID-19, these employees can take different types of leave or work from home if practical.

For OSHC services and children’s centres, work from home could include:

  • online training and development
  • program planning
  • joining team meetings through video or teleconferencing.

General information for parents and carers

How should I talk to my child about COVID-19?

Talking with children about COVID-19 can help them understand and cope with the current situation. When talking about this to your child, make sure it’s in a way that suits their age and development. When you do talk, listen to what’s worrying them.

The new Our Learning SA website has information and resources for parents and carers.

Visit SA Health resources for parents, carers and children about coronavirus for more.

What can we do to help?

Parents and carers can help by:

  • making sure your school, preschool, or children’s centre have the correct contact details for your family
  • making sure you’ve installed your school’s communication apps on your device
  • encouraging your child to practice good hygiene
  • keeping your child home if they are unwell.

More information

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

Visit www.sa.gov.au/covid-19 for the most up to date information from South Australian government agencies about COVID-19.

South Australia COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).

For COVID-19 information in a different language:

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