State’s plan for a virus outbreak
NSW authorities have revealed what will happen if there is an outbreak of coronavirus at a school with students returning to classes today on a staged basis.
On Monday students returned for one day of face-to-face learning per week, with attendance to increase over the course of the term.
The state government is working towards a target of a full-scale return by term three.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said parents should expect schools to temporarily close if coronavirus cases were detected.
"We'll put in a pop-up clinic, we'll have a number of initiatives to really control the spread in that community," she told reporters this morning.
"As was evidenced last week when a child had the coronavirus at Warragamba Public School, we ensured there was a pop up clinic in the vicinity of the school, we encouraged people to get tested and now the health department is confident any community transmission in that area has been under control."
She said schools would be shut down for a deep clean if a teacher or student was confirmed to have COVID-19.
"In an environment where there's thousands of schools, tens of thousands of students and teacher and parents moving about, we can expect that to occur from time to time. That will be the new normal when it comes to education," she said.
A huge operation is also underway to ensure schools have enough cleaning products as supplies remain hard to source.
"We have spent the past month putting in extra supplies, getting extra cleaning - imagine getting an extra contract for cleaning for every extra 2200 schools, plus all the extra supplies - a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes," Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said she hoped schooling would look pretty normal by the end of May.
The premier said Year 12 students will be back in public schools on average three days a week, with some Year 12 students going back full time this week.
"If the next two weeks go well, we expect to have full-time face-to-face teaching very quickly in New South Wales, by the end of May," she said.
"As I have said, we anticipate there will be face-to-face teaching and in many, if not the majority of our schools. We have to appreciate that NSW has schools with the size as small as 10, in some of the regional communities and as large as 2000.
"Don't assume every single school will be doing everything exactly the same.
"We have given flexibility to our schools, our principals and teachers know there is some flexibility within the school community to apply things as you see fit. That is absolutely fine."
However, the return to classrooms has come with a warning, with Ms Berejiklian promising that any surge in numbers of confirmed cases could see a return to tighter measures.
"If there is evidence or if there is data that shows … a huge spike, then we'll have to go backwards," Berejiklian said.
"But similarly, if the data shows us that we're doing better than expected, we can move forward and be faster."
The government has urged parents to be vigilant about their children's health and to keep them away from school if they exhibit any symptoms of coronavirus.
Social distancing guidelines will be maintained in classrooms and extra health measures will be in place, including additional cleaning and health equipment in sick bays.
Lunch breaks will also be staggered.
Ms Berejiklian said it was not compulsory to send children to school and parents would not be penalised for keeping them at home.
"It's never been compulsory to force parents to do one thing or another, we've been very clear about that in New South Wales," she said.
"But our strong recommendation is that face-to-face teaching needs to start.
"We want to get to fulltime face-to-face teaching as soon as we can. And the best health advice is that schools are safe environments."
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said more than 2000 litres of liquid soap, 22,000 bars of soap, over 42,000 bottles of hand sanitiser and 20,000 toilet rolls had been dispatched to schools.
"In addition, a first aid room care package containing personal protective equipment and a non-contact temperature monitor has been dispatched to every school in NSW.
"A rolling program of deliveries is scheduled to continue to meet the needs of schools on an ongoing basis."
Additional cleaning of bathrooms and high-touch surfaces will be done throughout the day.
The Berejiklian on Sunday announced the winding back of restrictions from Friday, including allowing people to leave their homes for recreation. The new relaxing of restrictions will allow up to five people to visit a home, including children.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will also be allowed, such as a physical training session or sitting down in a park.
Restaurants and cafes will also be allowed to have up to 10 patrons at a time, while ensuring they maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres between people and four square metres space per person.
A total of 10 guests will be allowed at weddings, and up to 20 people at indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor funerals.
Religious gatherings and places of worship can also welcome up to 10 worshippers.
- with AAP
Originally published as State's plan for a virus outbreak