COVID-19 (Coronavirus) revised 06 Apr 2020


Updates will be provided to this service as any new information becomes available. Please check regularly to ensure the information you have is up to date.

As the lead agency in Western Australia, the WA Department of Health is monitoring the situation and we are acting on their advice.  It is important that as a school community we apply a common sense, factual and practical approach to COVID-19.

The Department of Health has produced a fact sheet on social distancing for general information.


Western Australians should remain alert, but not be alarmed. 

Revised 06 April, 2020 (Ref: WA Dept of Education)
 

KEY MESSAGES

The Department is working closely with the Department of Health, particularly Dr Andrew Robertson, the WA Chief Health Officer.  We will continue to follow their expert advice. 

On 26 March the State Government announced all public schools in Western Australia will remain open until the end of term, Thursday 9 April. In the final two weeks schools will operate differently from usual. 

  • Coordinated learning programs cease on Friday 3 April for students.
  • Schools are not expected to provide work for students who are not in attendance for the balance of Term 1.
  • From Monday 6 April to Thursday 9 April teachers will prepare teaching programs for Term 2 and during this time students who attend school will be supervised.

The Minister for Education and Training reiterated that continuity of education for as long as possible is best, but families are now encouraged to keep their children at home.

LATEST NEWS

Early childhood education and care relief package
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, announced on 2 April a plan to help the early childhood education and care sector effective from 6 April 2020. The plan will support families, while also ensuring the sector’s 13,000 child care and early learning services can keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services. Read the media release here

Coronavirus (COVID_19) for Aboriginal people resource
Healthy WA have published a website containing information and resources for Aboriginal people.

Student Website
The Learning at home https://www.education.wa.edu.au/learning-at-home/learning-resources-by-year-level website provides advice and resources for parents and carers, educators and students. This includes a wide range of resources and information related to the impact of COVID-19 on students’ health and wellbeing and the impact on families.

The website will continue to be updated over the coming weekshttps://www.education.wa.edu.au/learning-at-home.

Attendance at school
The State Government recognises there will be families who need to send their children to school this week.  These may include:

  • children of parents and carers who need their children to attend school to maintain employment
  • children who live in families with aged relatives
  • children where it is safer for them to be at school.

Who cannot attend school
Students or staff cannot attend school and need to self-isolate if they have:

  1. returned from overseas travel, they must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return to Australia
  2. returned from interstate travel, from 1.30pm on Tuesday 24 March, they must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return to Western Australia
  3. been informed by public health authorities that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case and they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case
  4. been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results should follow the advice of the Department of Health and stay away from school.

The above also applies to all parents/carers, contractors, visitors and volunteers on school sites. 

Parents/carers and staff should notify their school or line manager if the student or staff member will be away for the isolation period and confirm the date in which they were last overseas, or have been advised by the Department of Health to isolate.  

Testing
As of Thursday 2 April, the testing criteria for COVID-19 will be expanded significantly at all COVID clinics.

General public testing
Any person presenting to a COVID clinic with BOTH a documented fever (≥38°C) AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat) will be tested.

High-risk staff testing
Anyone working within a high-risk setting that presents to a COVID clinic with EITHER a fever (≥38°C) OR an acute respiratory infection will be tested. This includes healthcare workers (including aged care and disability workers) and WA Police Officers.

High-risk settings
Testing will also be arranged for anyone from the following high risk settings where two or more people are experiencing EITHER a fever (≥38°C) OR an acute respiratory infection:

  • Aged and residential care
  • Rural and remote Aboriginal communities
  • Detention centres
  • Correctional facilities
  • Boarding schools
  • Military barracks or equivalent
  • Geographically localised areas with increased risk of community transmission
  • Cruise ship passengers or returned travellers (international and domestic).

School playgrounds and play equipment
The WA Government announced that as of 11:59pm on Tuesday 31 March, all playgrounds in public places will be closed. 

It is recommended that all schools with playgrounds and/or playground type equipment close them down until further notice.  This may be done by:

  1. removing easily re-moved items of equipment; and/or
  2. the use of appropriate signage and hazard tape; and
  3. ensuring an appropriate level of supervision of the closed playground area during school opening hours.

BYO water bottles
As per advice received from the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), it is preferable that students bring their own individual water bottles that can be filled from the fountain as necessary. This will reduce the need for students to drink directly from fountains. All students should be instructed on safe usage of water fountains e.g. not putting their mouth onto equipment. The water fountains are regularly cleaned and checked that they are working correctly with good pressure.

Front line services and mass gatherings
On Wednesday, 18 March the Australian Government announced that all organised, non-essential mass gatherings attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and more than 500 people for outdoors events must be cancelled from Wednesday 18 March 2020.  

On Friday 20 March the Australian Government announced further measures relating to gatherings of fewer than 100 people in an enclosed space. The Government is now recommending four square metres per person. This does not apply to schools.

P
lease refer to Healthy WA for more information on the Prime Minister’s announcement.

Schools should now review their schedule of activities[See (16 Mar 2020) Letter from Principal].

School premises and facilities
Schools will have existing agreements for use of school premises and facilities as follows:

  • Community use including playgroups
  • Outside of school hours care (OSHC)
  • School uniform shop or canteen

In the current circumstances schools should be suspending community use/third party arrangements including play groups.

OSHC must continue as required. However, arrangements must be made to ensure cleaning requirements are fulfilled, particularly where the OSHC operates during the school holidays.

The continued use of school premises for uniform shops and canteens should be considered on a case by case basis, but these operations at Caralee Community School will now cease.

Temporary School Closure
If a WA school has to close due to a confirmed case, it will be on advice from the WA Health Department’s Chief Health Officer.

The Chief Health Officer will, if there has been a positive COVID-19 test result in your school, close your school temporarily while assessment and tracing of exposure is conducted. A thorough school clean will then be carried out to make the school safe for the return of students and staff.

In this situation the Department of Education, AISWA, or CEWA will work with individual school principals to provide direct advice and support regarding the closure process and communication.

ICT
Many organisations have staff working from home due to COVID-19. This is having a major impact on the performance and reliability of telecommunications across the country. 

Over the last few days, there has been

  • 4 times more demand for Connect
  • almost 10 times the normal use of the public website
  • a tripling of Ikon use.

In response, ICT has

  • more than tripled the capacity of the Connect servers
  • significantly increased resources for the public website (for Learning From Home resources) and Ikon.

Further increases are under way, but the level of demand in such a short period presents an unprecedented challenge. We are also reliant on external telecommunications services to connect and deliver services to our schools, students and staff.

For students and staff studying or working from home, this means that they may

  • need to allow more time to perform a task
  • have trouble connecting to some services
  • see short delays in email delivery and even congestion of phone calls on the mobile network.

While the telecommunications companies and NBNCo are taking steps to minimise impact on the network, this is a unique and global issue with many challenges. We thank you for your understanding and patience.

Student support
Student wellbeing website
Given the extensive media coverage, some children are already aware of the impact of the virus and will pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others. This could be through listening and observing what is happening online, at home and school. 

The Learning at home website provides advice and resources for parents and carers, educators and students. This includes a wide range of resources and information related to the impact of COVID-19 on students’ health and wellbeing and the impact on families.  It also includes vital information for schools to understand how they can best support students and families to access services and information.  The website will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.

For further information: Support for parents and carers

Parents are advised that, if they need urgent mental health advice and support for themselves or their child, there is a 24 hour crisis support line 1800 048 636.

 
   


Should you have concerns about the risks to your child, please refer to the Department of Health's website https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus or ring the helpline on 1800 020 080

More details are available by following the link Information for parents regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)