School disruptions ease as NSW Government updates COVID-19 settings

Reducing impact: Sylvania High School is among the NSW schools that will no longer need to shut if someone is a close contact of COVID-19.
Reducing impact: Sylvania High School is among the NSW schools that will no longer need to shut if someone is a close contact of COVID-19.

In what is a major win for students, staff and parents, schools will be able to stay open if they have a positive COVID-19 case.

The impact schools have faced when notified of a positive case will be eased as the NSW Government announced the new settings which come into effect this month.

From Monday, November 29, close contacts of COVID-19 cases at schools and outside school hours care services will no longer need to isolate.

But students will be required to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of exposure.

If the test is negative, they can return to school immediately, so long as they provide negative Rapid Antigen Home Test (RAHT) results for the next seven consecutive days.

Schools do not have to close while contact tracing occurs, as the enhanced cleaning in place has been deemed sufficient. The only exception will be if there are multiple cases in a school.

Students already in isolation can also return to school from next week.

The update was made following recent Doherty Institute and NSW Health advice.

It will no doubt be a sign of relief for schools, including Sylvania High School, which was closed on November 25 due to COVID-19 case after a member of the school community tested positive.

Students were asked to learn from home for the day, before they returned to class on November 26.

It was the second time in a week the school was closed this month because of a case. On November 18 it was also non-operational for the day.

Masks must still be worn by staff and students in high schools. Masks are only recommended for primary school pupils.

Music departments can also enjoy newfound freedoms. Students who play on wind instruments and those who sing can do so outdoors within their year groups.

Breath of fresh air: Inaburra School Bangor will be able to enjoy more easing of restrictions on school bands.

Breath of fresh air: Inaburra School Bangor will be able to enjoy more easing of restrictions on school bands.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the government made a commitment that whenever possible it would reduce disruption to schools, praising staff for managing the pandemic "extremely well".

NSW recorded 261 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm.

The state's population aged 16 years and over is now 92.2 per cent fully vaccinated.

Further restrictions are set to ease on December 15, or when NSW reaches the 95 per cent double dose vaccination target.

Masks will only be required on public transport and planes, at airports, and for indoors front-of-house hospitality staff who are not fully vaccinated. But masks are strongly recommended in settings where you cannot social distance.

Density limits have been scrapped, and QR check-in codes are only required at high-risk venues including hospitals, aged and disability care facilities, gyms, places of worship, funerals or memorial services, personal services such as hairdressers and beauty salons, pubs, small bars, clubs and nightclubs and for indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.

Proof of vaccination will no longer be required but business owners can still require them at their discretion.