Update on operations of NSW public schools

The Secretary, Mark Scott, has provided advice to all school staff on education arrangements until the school holidays.

The situation with COVID-19 continues to develop and I wanted to confirm with all of you directly what will be happening through this week. I want to thank each and every one of you for our commitment to your students and our critical work through these exceptional times.

This message is intentionally short and hopefully clear on where we are at right now. We will update information on our intranet and provide further information to schools and communities throughout the day.

Schools remain open

The health advice on schools is unchanged.

It is safe for our schools to be open and continue to operate.

We have seen attendance rates fall significantly over the last week and we expect that trend to continue. The decision of an increasing number of families electing to keep their children at home would have made it exceptionally difficult for teachers to run regular classes while meeting needs of learners off-campus.

Parents are being supported in their choice to keep their children at home and we believe an increasing number of parents will choose to do so.

It is vital that our doors remain open for those parents who cannot make that choice. Those parents who work in our health system, education system, emergency services and other essential workers need to be able to access suitable supervision of their child?s learning on school sites. We recognise too that there are some high needs children for whom school is a better and safer option.

There may also be occasions where students will need to attend school, even if they are studying at home: like completing a major work project for the HSC, or possibly collecting and delivering back study materials.

Schools continue to operate but with much fewer students who are receiving supervision as they complete units of work, not traditional classroom experiences.

Supporting continuity of learning for all students

School teams have been working hard to develop learning options for students to undertake from home should that become necessary. At the Department level, we have developed and continue to develop resources to help teachers with this task.

In the event of students or teachers required to be off-campus, teachers will be supported to teach online through a virtual platform, or materials and packages of materials provided to students electronically or in hard copy. Explore our learning from home resources.

School leadership teams can seek support from the department, via their Director Educational Leadership, if schools need further support.

If the current advice from NSW Health continues, schools will reopen for Term 2 after the Easter break. This model of teaching delivery may continue in Term 2 if necessary.

At-risk staff

Any staff who identifies as at additional risk from COVID-19 by NSW HealthExternal link or who are pregnant are not required to attend work on-site from tomorrow. These staff must be supported to work from home.

Supporting our staff

The department has established virtual staffrooms for each KLA and K-6. These staffrooms will enable you to connect with colleagues, share resources and information.

We are updating the staff information pages on the intranet and will be providing further information to schools and communities throughout the day.

Further advice for our public service staff in corporate offices will be provided today.

Video – COVID-19 update, Monday 23 March

To view the video, click this link

Transcript of COVID-19 update, Monday 23 March

Mark Scott

Hi, it’s Mark Scott, Secretary of the NSW Department of Education and I wanted to give you the latest advice on the operations of NSW public schools. All our schools are open and will continue to be operational for the balance of term one. However, as we manage COVID-19 in the community, we need to seriously rethink how our schools are operating.

The Premier has advised today that if children can stay at home to do their learning from there, that would be a good idea. Schools will remain open for children of parents who are working in essential services to keep our community going at this time and also for high-risk students for whom it’s safer and better to be in a school environment, but we’re asking teachers to create just one body of work that students can work on if they’re working from home or if they’re attending school.

If they are at school, it won’t be regular classrooms, but it will be supervision as students work on this material prepared by their teachers. We’ll have curriculum material online for teachers to download and also extensive professional development to support teaching in the weeks ahead.

I want to thank our teachers, our parents, all our school staff and our students for working with us in this very, very challenging time and for parent’s vital support to ensure that learning continues to take place at home. It’s a very, very challenging time for our society. We must ensure that learning continues to take place. Thanks for your support.

End of transcript.