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Information on novel coronavirus (COVID-19)


15/03/2020

Coronavirus Information Banner

Updated 25/03/2020

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The Australian Government is monitoring a respiratory illness outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19). Their advice  External Link is updated every day with the latest information.

The ACT is in a very good place to respond to COVID-19. The ACT Health Directorate External Link is taking a highly precautionary approach to managing the spread of COVID-19, which is in line with the latest national health advice External Link .

ACT Health has well established processes and procedures in place for the management of infectious diseases in the ACT and are working in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Health, as well as other state and territory governments, to monitor and respond to the situation. ACT Health provides information for the ACT community on their website External Link

COVID-19 FAQs for School Communities

 What is the health advice for students and families?

You or your child should get tested if: you develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath:

  • within 14 days of overseas travel
  • following contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • if you’re a healthcare worker with direct patient contact – even if you have not recently travelled or had contact with someone who has COVID-19

For more information go to the ACT Health website external link.

Currently, the Australian Government has strict self-quarantine requirements for people entering Australia from overseas countries. Anyone returning from an overseas country must self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the date they left an overseas country, and closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

  • In addition, if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, while they were infectious, you must also quarantine yourself for 14 days after your last contact with that person.

Being quarantined at home means that you need to stay at home for the full 14-day period, so you cannot go to school. You also cannot go to work or visit any public areas, such as shops or cafes/restaurants. You must not use public transport, ride share or taxis. You need to tell people not to visit you while you are quarantined.

Whilst in quarantine, you need to closely monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19. The key signs and symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. If you develop any of these symptoms within 14 days of returning from overseas, or within 14 days of having contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, please take the steps described on the Getting Tested page.

Advice for international students

For all questions regarding international students who are still overseas, please contact the International Education Unit on 02 6205 9178 for local calls or +61 2 6205 9178 for international calls.

 How are ACT public schools affected?

ACT public schools pupil free from Tuesday 24 March to school holidays

The ACT Minister for Education and Early Childhood announced that from Tuesday 24 March 2020 all ACT Public Schools will go pupil free until the school holidays, due to begin on Friday 10 April 2020.

ACT schools will remain open to students who need to attend. Schools will still be able to safely receive and provide learning for parents and carers engaged in essential services and unable to care for their children at home, as well as vulnerable children and those with additional needs. Essential service includes health workers, education workers, aged care workers and critical public service workers.

No child will be turned away.

This also applies to ACT Government preschools.  All other early childhood services, such as long day care, family day care, out of school hours care and vacation care continue to operate.

ACT Public Schools are preparing to transition to an essential service capacity and going pupil free will support us to adjust to new ways of delivering education to your child. This will include developing alternative methods of delivering education for our children. Teachers are focussed on developing resources and supports for children to access online and home-based learning.

If your child is unwell, do not send them to school.

School holidays will commence as scheduled on Friday 10 April and updates will continue to be provided before the start of Term 2.

Vulnerable Students

We are ensuring that we have arrangement in place to meet the needs of our vulnerable students and families. We will continue to work with government and community  agencies to make sure we offer the best support for all children in Canberra.

Cancellation of overseas excursions for students term 1 and 2

  • As a result of the ongoing development of the COVID-19 situation overseas ALL overseas school excursions have been cancelled until further notice.
  • We realise this has financial implications for families, carers and schools. As such, the ACT Government is currently determining the financial commitments already made so parents, carers and schools can be reimbursed.
  • Further advice will be forthcoming. A decision regarding overseas school excursions in Terms 3 and 4 will be made at the end of term 1.

Are events cancelled at my school?

All school activities and events have been cancelled until further notice including swimming/athletics school and regional events, musical concerts and band performances, parent/teacher nights and school open days/nights.

Are school excursions still going ahead?

Local and interstate school excursions, including camps have been cancelled. All upcoming camps have been postponed and will be rescheduled, or, if there is no other option, cancelled.

How are ACT Public Schools responding?

Cleaning in Schools

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have revised our approach to cleaning in ACT Government Schools for staff at the school and students who need to attend. Changes are being made to our daily and weekly cleaning regime to provide greater focus of cleaning areas of higher risk.

We have reviewed Australian Government and World Health Organisation information on prevention and control of COVID-19 in schools to inform our new cleaning approach, which includes:

  • daily cleaning of frequent touch points in all areas and bathrooms including glass doors, door handles, light switches, taps, toilet cubicles and handwash dispensers
  • the sanitisation of classroom desks
  • daily emptying of waste-bins
  • daily spot mopping in areas where food is consumed
  • weekly cleaning of carpets and hardwood floors

Online Resource Library

A Learning Resource Library external link is now available to support parents and children learning from home. These resources have been carefully selected to support a variety of year levels and curriculum areas and supplement the learning materials students may have brought home from their schools.

Some resources involve online learning, while others provide advice for off-screen activities. Resources have been recommended for each stage of schooling, although many are suitable for a range of ages and abilities.

Parents are encouraged to use the recommendations to select activities that are best suited to their child’s abilities, interests and resources available at home. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to add to and strengthen these resources into Term 2.

Relationships are key to education and we want parents and students to remain connected to their teachers and schools in the coming months. In the following weeks, schools will be in contact with students to discuss learning plans for Term 2 as we transition to alternative methods of education.

Wellbeing resources for students and families

COVID 19 – Wellbeing Support Resources for students and families

We understand the potential spread of COVID-19 may increase you and/or your family's feelings of stress and anxiety. We have collated a list of useful practical support resources.

Visit the ‘Support for Students and Families’ page for more information on the range of supports available

Social distancing and self-isolating

One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing and self-isolating.The Australian Department of Health provides advice on social distancing. You can find out more about  avoiding public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups.

If you are required to self-isolate here are some ideas from Mind on what can help you feel connected with others despite the isolation:

Keep in touch digitally

  • Make plans to video chat with people or groups you’d normally see in person.
  • You can also arrange phone calls or send instant messages or texts.

Connect with others in similar situations

  • If you’re part of a group of people who are also self-isolating, you may be part of group communications to receive updates on your situation.

Other Useful links

These organisations can provide individual support or further information.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information see: