Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For parents seeking advice see Coronavirus information for parents.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Question

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.

I’m concerned about physical distancing and seclusion of students. 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 practise physical distancing or 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.

The school should continue to implement policies in relation to student wellbeing and engagement for those identified students attending school sites during remote and flexible learning in Term 3.

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.

Question

Answer

Why do we need to reduce interactions between year levels?

Schools maintain records of student, staff and visitor attendance, which support contact tracing.

In the event of a positive case being detected within the school community, having an easily identifiable group of staff and students who have or may have come into contact with the case will assist with communication and potential testing. This in turn may assist in reducing the length of time a school is closed while contact tracing is undertaken.

School assemblies, Masses and other activities that require interaction of year levels should be cancelled or alternative arrangements made (i.e. remote approaches).

It is not necessary to consider students’ home situations (i.e. siblings in other year levels) when determining year level segregation. The DHHS will determine as necessary if it believes the case has affected more than one year level.

How do I maintain staff ratios on yard duty during staggered recess/lunch breaks?

Normal staff to student ratios need to be maintained for yard duties.

If staggering of breaks is not possible due to staffing constraints, consider year level yard segregation.

How do I allocate different areas of the school grounds to different year levels during breaks?

To assist in reduction of interactions between year levels, it is advised to allocate areas of the yard for year levels.

It may be useful to have a roster system throughout the week for use of the yard, so each year level has an opportunity to use particular areas.

Depending on staff ratios and the size of the school grounds, it may be necessary to group year levels so as to provide a degree of reduced interaction between all levels.

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).

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 or staggered drop off and pick up times

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).

How can I staff pick-ups and drop-offs and maintain staff ratios?

Consider staggering by year level to allow year level teacher presence.

Siblings of the year level being released are to go, along with younger siblings.

Consider arrangements for students whose parents cannot make the alternative pick-up times (i.e. supervised area).

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 covering 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 who are attending onsite for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) or onsite supervision will need to wear a face covering, including when travelling to and from school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that any face covering will be acceptable – it does not need to be a surgical mask.

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

The Victorian Government has announced that the wearing of face coverings when leaving the home will be mandatory statewide. All school-based staff must wear face coverings at school, and when travelling to and from school.

Teachers and education support staff will not be required to wear face coverings while teaching, but those who wish to do so can. Teachers should wear face coverings in other areas of the school when not teaching (for example, in the staffroom, on yard duty, and when providing first aid or taking temperatures), and when travelling to and from school.

Are there any exemptions for people not wearing a face covering 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 covering. 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 covering. Students who are aged 12 by Year 6 will not be required to wear face coverings. 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 coverings, 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 coverings?

It is anticipated that most staff and students will supply their own face coverings, 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

What do I do if a parent refuses temperature screening for their child upon entry to the school?

Written consent is not required as the process is non-invasive. Schools should consult their Regional Leadership Consultant (or diocesan education equivalent) for further guidance.

Please see the CECV Guidance for Student Temperature Screening.

My infrared thermometer is broken. How do I acquire an additional thermometer?

Schools are to contact their Regional Leadership Consultant (or diocesan education equivalent) for assistance.

My school operates an outside school hours care (OSHC) program. Are we required to temperature check students who are on site before school hours?

Outside school hours care (OSHC) on school sites in metropolitan Melbourne can provide before and after-school care programs only for children whose parents work in one of the defined continuing industries and vulnerable children.

OSHC programs in rural and regional Victoria can continue to operate with the relevant risk mitigation measures in place for children whose parents cannot work from home, vulnerable children and any child with a disability.

For all other queries, schools are advised to contact their local diocesan education office. Please see ‘Outside school hours care’ in the CECV School Operations Guide – Term 3.

Schools providing OSHC and vacation care services on school sites, but not run by contracted/external providers, must follow temperature testing practices as described in the CECV Guidance for Student Temperature Screening.

Is certified training required to administer temperature checks? Who will provide training?

No. Schools are required to identify staff to conduct screening, ensuring they are competent with the use of the equipment and interpretation of results, i.e. what constitutes a fever, and the required actions to be taken in the event of reading 37.5° C or above. The Department of Education and Training-supplied infrared thermometers will include a user manual that details how to operate the device.

Please see ‘Temperature thresholds and required actions’ in the CECV Guidance for Student Temperature Screening.

Is a medical certificate required to return to school?

Staff or students experiencing symptoms compatible with coronavirus (COVID-19) should be encouraged to seek the advice of their healthcare professional who can advise on next steps. However, staff and students should not return until symptoms resolve.

If a staff member or student is a confirmed case of COVID-19, they cannot return until advised by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that it is safe for them to do so. Staff continue to be required to present a medical certificate in accordance with personal leave policy for periods of absence on personal leave.

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. 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.

Question

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.

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

 

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. 

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?

Under Stage 3 and 4 restrictions:

  • playgrounds should not be made available for community use
  • community groups are not permitted to use school facilities (indoor or outdoor).

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

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

Outdoor facilities are preferred for physical education and recreational play. Where indoor facilities are used, the number of students should be limited to maximise physical distancing.

Non-contact sports should be encouraged. Hand hygiene must be practised before and after use of any sporting equipment.

In line with the closure of swimming pools, saunas and spas in the community, swimming pools and aquatic facilities on school grounds should close.

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.

Mixing of staff and students between rooms should be avoided where possible. See physical distancing information above.

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.