Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For parents seeking advice see Coronavirus information for parents.

Schools seeking Employee Relations advice see Employee Relations - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This Safety Risk Review document applies to all schools, and outlines some key health, safety and wellbeing hazards for which schools should plan. It links to the controls prescribed by the latest health and safety guidance, and the supports available. It is designed to support the ongoing revision of the COVID Safe Plan, in conjunction with the School Operations Guide (Term 4).

 

The information below is taken from the Term 4: Operations Guide (updated 25th November)

Quick reference of permitted school activities

COVIDSafe behaviours

 

Create COVIDSafe spaces

 

Promote COVIDSafe activities

 

Respond to COVID-19 risk

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Question

Answer

When do we need a COVID Safe Plan?

The requirement to have a COVIDSafe Plan applies to all schools, and outlines the key OHS risks and links to the latest guidance. It sets out the approach for managing safety risks in schools with the minimum requirements for COVIDSafe Plans set out by the Victorian Government.  Each campus will require a separate COVIDSafe Plan.

A template COVID Safe Plan is available on the CEVN website. Schools will need to review and adjust to ensure it is appropriate to the particulars of each school’s setting. The plan must be regularly updated as required, while restrictions remain in place.

Your local diocesan education office can assist in tailoring the plan to individual school needs. 

Question

Answer

Where do I go for information on cleaning?

Enhanced School Cleaning Guidelines

Where schools require additional support, the CECV can assist with recommendations on alternative contractors and/or third-party accredited auditors to review current cleaning processes.

Where do I find information for cleaning if we have a positive case?  CECV Infectious Cleaning Guidelines.

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Answer

A student is unwell and has symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19). The student’s parents/carers are refusing to come and pick them up. What do I do?

If a parent/carer refuses to collect an unwell student, the Regional Leadership Consultant (or diocesan education equivalent) should be contacted for further guidance.

Refer to the Health and Safety Advice for detailed information on the management of an unwell child, young person or staff member.

Am I able to require a student to be in a room without other students if their behaviour is unsafe (e.g. spitting, touching others)?

In circumstances where students cannot proper hygiene and cough etiquette, they must not be secluded in a room or area from which their exit is prevented by a barrier or another person in order to enforce physical distancing. However, students may be moved to different learning environments as they would be at any other time in a school. If a student’s behaviour is presenting an immediate danger for staff and/or other students, staff could elect to evacuate from the room, so long as the student is supervised at a safe distance and their exit is not prevented. Where applicable, follow the behaviour support and safety plans in place.

What if a student refuses to wash their hands, use hand sanitiser or follow other directions in relation to COVID-19 risk control measures?

Schools should follow the same process they normally would to manage student behaviour, as they do in other contexts. If students do not follow an instruction, other prompting strategies should be utilised.

We have students who physically hit, grab and touch staff when their behaviour is heightened. We use all possible means to assist the students to regulate their behaviour but, given the learning environment and staff are different, these behaviours are continuing. Can I require the students to be picked up by a parent or carer and not returned to school?

Schools implementing school-wide positive behaviour support (SWPBS) should already have an expected behaviour and explicit teaching about this, or can adapt it. Staff should use a pre-correction prompt along with explicit teaching of this behaviour and, as a reactive intervention, use physical prompting.

Staff must ensure that their actions are consistent with the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 that govern the use of restraint in schools, which state that physical restraint can only be used on students to stop acts or behaviour dangerous to themselves or another person. The physical restraint must also be proportionate to the danger.

If required, request additional support by contacting the relevant diocesan education office.

Further information on managing challenging behaviours can be found in the Safe and Sound Practice Guidelines and the Positive Behaviour Guidelines.

How can I determine if a child or young person with complex needs is unwell if they are not able to communicate this effectively?

A child or young person’s individual care plan should contain advice to support staff in the assessment and recognition of illness in that child or young person.

It is advisable in the first instance to contact the parent or carer to discuss any concerns about the health status of a child or young person. A staff member could take the temperature of the child or young person, where appropriate, to support decision-making.

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Answer

How can we reduce staff interactions in the common areas such as the staffroom?

If possible, stagger staff break times to reduce the number of staff who need to access the staffroom at one time. Consider provision of additional areas for staff to have their breaks.

Consider purchasing additional kitchen materials (such as microwaves etc.) to reduce the need for staff to access the kitchen. Still be mindful of the need to prevent student access to equipment such as kettles or urns in a primary school setting.

What if parents still need to access the front office?

Ensure clear guidance is given to parents about access to the school site.

If parents do need to access the front office, consider specifying the time for this to occur (i.e. outside school drop-off and pick-up times).

Refer to CECV School Operations Guide – Term 4 for additional information on school visitors. 

How can we discourage parents congregating at the drop-off and pick-up gates?

Ensure clear communication is given to parents regarding drop-off and pick-up arrangements.

Provide multiple entry and exit points 

Ensure clear signage is displayed at school entrances requesting parents to drop and go.

Consider increased teacher presence at entrance points to assist in quick changeovers and communication with loitering persons.

Consider encouraging car drop-offs in ‘kiss and drop zones’ so parents will not need to leave the car.

Ensure parent–school relationship codes of conduct are up to date and available (i.e. on the school website).

What additional measures should we have in place to assist adequate physical distancing of staff?

Close attention and proactive management must be provided so staff can physically distance. Specific attention should be paid to:

  • using larger spaces within the school that can support physical distancing for staff, such as libraries and vacant classrooms
  • implementing signage and rostering so that access to physical spaces and food preparation areas can be managed
  • appropriately spacing occupied offices
  • carefully managing the movement of adults through school reception, complemented by clear signage and access to hand sanitiser.

Question

Answer

Are all students required to wear a face mask from 11.59 pm on Sunday 2 August 2020?

Students who attend primary school for onsite supervision, including those aged 12 by Year 6, will not be required to wear a face covering. The Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face coverings while others are not required to.

All secondary school students will need to wear a face mask whilst indoors, including when travelling on public transport.  Face masks are not required outdoors except where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Are all school staff required to wear a face mask from 11.59 pm on Sunday 2 August 2020?

All school-based staff must wear face masks whilst indoors at school, and when travelling on public transport.

Teachers and education support staff will not be required to wear face masks while teaching, but those who wish to do so can. Teachers should wear face masks in other indoor areas of the school when not teaching.  Face masks are not required outdoors except where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Are there any exemptions for people not wearing a face mask from 11.59 pm on Sunday 2 August 2020?

Students or staff who have a medical condition – including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition – are not required to wear a face mask. This includes students who attend specialist schools.

Students who attend primary school for onsite supervision, including Prep to Year 6 who attend a P-12 school, will not be required to wear a face mask. Students who are aged 12 by Year 6 will not be required to wear face masks. The Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face coverings while others are not required to.

Health, wellbeing and inclusion staff are required to wear face masks, unless an exemption applies, including the need for ‘clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth’ (for example, when undertaking a speech therapy intervention or working with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing).

Who will supply the face masks?

It is anticipated that most staff and students will supply their own face masks, but schools should now have a supply of single-use face masks to provide to students and staff if they are unable to access one themselves.

What is an acceptable face covering?

The DHHS website has advice about face coverings, including:

  • which different types can be used
  • how to make your own
  • how to safely wear one
  • how to safely remove it.

When should staff be wearing other PPE?

See Guidance for Use of PPE in an Educational Setting.

Question

Answer

Do we need to conduct temperature screening of students upon arrival at school?

Based on the advice of the Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer, given the current levels of community transmission in Victoria, mandatory temperature testing of all students on arrival to schools will not be required in Term 4.

However, should community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) increase, temperature checking may be reintroduced for some schools.

Please see the CECV Guidance for Student Temperature Screening.

Question

Answer

Where should hand sanitiser be available within the school?

Hand sanitiser should be available at entry points to classrooms and at entry points to other areas such as front offices, libraries and staff rooms.

Staff should be aware of education on hand hygiene.

How should hygiene be promoted within the school?

All staff and students should undertake regular hand hygiene, particularly on arrival at school, before and after eating, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the toilet. This should be directed or supervised by staff where required.

Where soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitiser should be provided in every occupied room.

It is recommended that students do not drink directly from drinking fountains at this time. Instead they should bring their own water bottle for using (and refilling) at school.

Sharing of food should not occur.

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Answer

What assistance should be provided to staff working from home?

Working alone or in isolation from others presents hazards of which employees should be made aware, including impacts on mental wellbeing. Principals and school staff are encouraged to develop a program of regular contact with staff who are working from home. Schools are also encouraged to promote their employee assistance program.

Counselling is available from the employee assistance program, which is a confidential, free-of-charge service for employees offered by AccessEAP. AccessEAP can be contacted 24/7 by calling 1800 818 728, making an online booking or using the EAP in Focus app.

Please see CECV – Agile Working Guidelines Template.

 

Additional wellbeing resources to support staff are available on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wellbeing Resources pages on the CEVN website. 

 

Question

Answer

Camps and Excursions

(information obtained from https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/school-camps-during-coronavirus#checklist-for-camp-operators-and-schools)

What are the restrictions on bookings?

School camps, including to attend remote campuses, can resume across Victoria for all schools. There are no restrictions on travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

 

Multiple schools can now attend a single facility.

 

Further advice is available on the School Camps web page.

 

What are the camps and excursions health and safety precautions?

Consistent with the health and safety advice for all Victorian schools, schools should pursue a variety of strategies to support physical distancing among all students and staff, where possible.

Staff must practise physical distancing between themselves and other staff members or adults and students wherever appropriate.

Creating student and staff camp 'bubbles', whereby student and staff groupings/cohorts are kept as static as possible with limited mixing of groups of student and staff groups, can minimise the risk of transmission between groups and aid containment in the event of a confirmed case.

To support this, large group activities should be avoided and use communal facilities should be staggered, with thorough cleaning after each group use.

Do face masks need to be used whilst on camp?

All staff and students will be required to follow advice about the use of face masks as outlined in the CECV School Operations Guide – Term 4

Staff and students sharing a room will be considered a 'bubble' and will not need to wear face masks when in their room. Face masks should not be worn while sleeping due to the potential health risks.

 

What are the documentation requirements for planning a Camp or excursion?

Schools must ensure they conduct a camp and/or excursion risk assessment for the activity.

Schools who are planning to or are participating in school camps should include this element of the program in their COVIDSafe Plan.

All staff and students will need current emergency contact details registered before departing for a school camp. Permission forms will need to include updated information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and any procedures that will apply in the event of a child displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) like symptoms.

 

What documentation do camp operators need?

Camp operators should develop and regularly review their COVIDSafe Plan, to minimise the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. In the event of a confirmed case, they should be informed by the below principles and advice for Accommodation Providers from Business Victoria and in the Industry Restart Guidelines - Accommodation. These plans should be made available for schools to review before arrival on site.

 

Camp operators are required to take bookings for single schools only until Victoria reaches the Last Step of the roadmap for reopening.

What activities can we do on camps and excursions?

 

Schools and camp operators should consider the range of activities and facilities available and recognise that some facilities and activities may need to be altered, deferred or delivered remotely to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk. Decisions regarding the types of activities that take place should take account of the potential risk associated with the activity, the level of community transmission, and available modifications to minimise risk.

 

Who should not attend camp?

Any staff member or student who have been advised to isolate as a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), or quarantine as a close contact of a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not under any circumstances attend school camp.

Staff and students should not attend camp if unwell.  

 

What if someone displays COVID-19 – like symptoms on camp?

Where a staff member or a student is displaying coronavirus (COVID-19)-like symptoms, those who have been sharing sleeping quarters with the symptomatic individual should be isolated from the rest of the group and undertake separate activities until the outcome of a coronavirus (COVID-19) test is known.

 

Anyone who develops symptoms during camp should be isolated and sent home for testing as soon as possible, with designated space(s) made available on the premises to support isolation where required.

 

What if someone is confirmed as a close contact whilst on camp?

If a staff member or student is identified as a close contact of a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19), they will be sent home as soon as possible, with designated space(s) made available on the premises to support safe isolation.

 

Where staff or students become unwell or are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required. School camps should also have appropriate PPE available in case it is required by their staff, contractors or guests.

 

Suspected or confirmed cases linked to school camp

Schools should be prepared to notify MACS when a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is linked to a school camp. Schools will need to provide requested information and take required actions. Good record-keeping, including accurate documentation of sleeping arrangements and any visitors, enables the prompt identification of individuals that may have been in contact with a confirmed case.

 

Hygiene, cleaning and shared areas

Reinforce hand hygiene practices and make sure there is access to handwashing facilities in all communal areas. Where soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitiser should be provided.

Cleaning and disinfection of communal facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens should occur at least twice a day, or more frequently when in high use by the group – including enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

Minimise numbers in shared rooms/dormitories where possible.

Parent volunteers are permitted, subject to normal arrangements, where volunteers are an integral part of the conduct of school camps, for example, where necessary to ensure adequate supervision or to provide medical care.

Where relevant, ensure the highest hygiene practices amongst food handlers where these services are operating.

 

 

 

 

Question

Answer

Can students use shared equipment?

Playground equipment can be used by students. However, students should practise hand hygiene before and after use.

Schools should consider the necessity of using shared equipment at this time, including loan items such as class sets. If used, strict hand hygiene should be followed before and after use. There is no requirement for books to be placed aside for a given period after use or if loaned to students.

Can people other than students use school facilities?

Playground equipment can be used by students. However, students should practise hand hygiene before and after use.

 

Playgrounds on school grounds can be made available for community use. Daily cleaning is no longer required. Schools may approve use of outdoor facilities on school property such as ovals if use aligns with DHHS advice for the relevant activity.

Schools may also permit use of indoor facilities on school property by community groups in line with permitted activities in the community. Use must be out of school hours. Any indoor facilities, including toilets must be cleaned before the next school day.

Can staff and students use the school’s recreational facilities?

Indoor and outdoor contact and non-contact sport can resume.

In line with community advice, reasonable precautions are still advised to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in the context of sport and recreation.

Limit use of changing rooms by allowing students to wear sports uniforms for the entire day, stagger use of facilities to reduce occupancy and promote hand hygiene in and around these facilities.

Outdoor facilities are recommended for physical education and recreational play where possible.

Hand hygiene must be practised before and after use of any sporting equipment

What additional measures can be put in place to minimise risk of transmission?

Promote fresh airflow indoors and maximise use of outdoor learning areas or environments with enhanced ventilation where possible and as practical depending on weather conditions.

Are there additional precautions for the provision of first aid during COVID-19?

Physical distancing is not practical when providing direct care. In this situation, standard precautions, including hand hygiene, are important for infection control.

Standard precautions are advised when coming into contact with someone for the purpose of providing routine care and/or assistance (for example, the use of gloves for nappy-changing, toileting or feeding).

Standard precautions as per the Department of Education and Training’s Infectious Disease policy and related policies should be adopted when providing first aid. For example, use gloves and an apron when dealing with blood or body fluids/substances.

Always wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser before and after performing routine care or first aid.

How do I treat a staff member or student displaying COVID-19-related symptoms?

See CECV School Operations Guide – Term 4, Required actions for suspected cases of coronavirus in staff. 

A coronavirus infection can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Affected people may experience:

  • Fever
  • Acute respiratory infection (shortness of breath or cough)

The World Health Organization has confirmed that the main driver of transmission is from symptomatic patients, through coughing or sneezing. Transmission by people without symptoms is possible, but rare.

Employers have a duty to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety associated with potential exposure to the coronavirus.

 

Coronavirus Information

CECV recommends obtaining information relating to Coronavirus from the following reputable sources:

 

Department of Education and Training (DET)

The Department of Education has created a Coronavirus advice page with up-to-date information for schools, principals and teachers: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/coronavirus.aspx#link2.

 

Department of Health and Human Services

For general Coronavirus disease information including travel advice: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

Information for the public about novel coronavirus: Information for the public - novel coronavirus

Factsheets and posters in English, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese to support schools and their communities: Information for the education sector - novel coronavirus

 

WorkSafe Victoria

Exposure to coronavirus in workplaces – Safety Alert

 

Department of Health – Australian Government

Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert - Australian Government

 

Smartraveller

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

 

World Health Organisation

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) video

How to protect yourself against Coronavirus video

Coronavirus Myth busters page

Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak poster

Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

 

Alternative Suppliers – cleaning supplies

Employee Assistance Program

If staff or family members need support or need professional assistance, the Employee Assistance Program through AccessEAP is available on 1800 81 87 28 or (02) 8247 9191. There is also the Principal EAP through Converge International available on 1300 687 327.