Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department of Education is introducing proactive measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 in our schools.

We continue to work closely with Public Health Tasmania and the Australian Government to monitor and respond to developments and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.

Schools will remain open for as long as it is safe to do so. At this time the best advice we have from our Public Health officials is that continuing to keep schools open, whilst exercising good hygiene practices, is appropriate. This was supported by the National Cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Chief Ministers.

Read the latest on Public Health Services in relation to schools remaining open.

We have developed some Frequently Asked Questions to support parents and carers.

For School related COVID-19 information please contact the Department of Education – Phone: 1800 816 057. Our Service Centre is operational 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays.

General Information

For up-to-date information, visit:


Affected schools

Affected schools can be found on the Department of Education Alerts page.

 

1. Why are we keeping schools open?

Schools will remain open for as long as it is safe to do so. At this time the best advice we have from our Public Health officials is that continuing to keep our schools open for those who wish to attend, whilst exercising good hygiene practices, is appropriate. This was supported by the National Cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Chief Ministers. Read the latest on Public Health Services in relation to schools remaining open

 

2. When will schools close?

Schools will remain open as long as it is safe and practical to do so or the advice from health professional’s changes.

A school will close if a confirmed case is identified.

 

3. Will school holidays be moved forward?

There are no plans to adjust school holidays at this point in time.

 

4. What planning is being undertaken for potential school closures?

We are working closely with the Director of Public Health on a number of scenarios. We are well-prepared should we get a confirmed case in a school or on a site. If it is necessary for a school to close we will do everything we can to support our students, school community and staff. There have been instances in the past where the Department has been required to close schools, and there are well-established procedures in place if this needs to occur. The Department will provide Principals and school staff with as much support as needed throughout this time.

 

5. How will students continue learning if schools need to close?

In the event of a site closure, your school will communicate with you. The communication will provide information on supporting learning for your child at home. Your school will continue to use their current communication channels.

Remote learning may occur in a variety of ways. Teachers may move some or all your child’s learning into online spaces. This may include email, the Department’s Learning Management System Canvas or Office 365. Schools may use offline strategies to ensure all students have access to their learning.

More information is available on Learning at Home Support.

 

6. If schools close, how will we know the school is safe to go back to?

Following a safety assessment, we will be guided by advice from Public Health Tasmania on this issue. The school will be thoroughly cleaned before students return.

 

7. Can external occupiers of school property (i.e. those who lease office space) still operate if schools close?

Use of school property by external occupiers will be considered on a case by case basis.

1. How do parents provide proof that their child is unwell if they do not go to school?

If a child is unwell and parents cannot obtain a medical certificate, your school will accept this advice. It is important not to burden our GP’s with appointments for colds at this point in time.

As always we are encouraging parents to keep students home who appear unwell

 

2. What if the child is told by Public Health that they can’t go to school?

They should be kept at home as per Public Health advice.

 

3. Can I take my child out of school if they (or someone in my family) have pre-existing conditions which may make them more susceptible to getting sick?

Parents should provide written advice if their child or someone in their family is medically compromised.

Parents should then talk to the school about how their children can keep up with their learning.

 

4. What if I want to keep my child at home, even though they are not sick?

As was nationally agreed from Wednesday, 25 March 2020, parents and carers may choose to keep their children home due to COVID-19 should they wish.

Parents and carers who choose to do so, must take responsibility for ensuring that they are safe, not mixing and not putting themselves or others at risk.

 

5. What do I need to if I decide to keep my child/ren home?

We ask that you notify your school if you intend to keep your child/ren at home.

Parents must be aware that while the majority of adults who contract COVID-19 have mild forms of the virus, the elderly and vulnerable can have more significant symptoms. Therefore, children at home must be at home.

 

6. If a parent is in isolation, does their child need to be (and vice versa)?

If a person is in self-isolation, those living with them only need to self-isolate if that person becomes sick or becomes a confirmed case. Information on self-isolation can be found on the Public Health website.

Please see Learning at Home for more information.

 

7. Can parents and volunteers still visit schools?

This will be determined at the school level. It is essential that visitors are well and have adhered to health advice if they have recently travelled.

 

8. Can DoE staff (i.e. School improvement leaders, literacy coaches, Professional Support Staff still visit schools?

Yes, provided they are well and have adhered to health advice if they have recently travelled.

 

9. Can students still attend work placements?

Students can still attend work placements if it is safe to do so, and they have parental approval.

1. Will school cleaning processes be more thorough?

Providing clean school facilities is a priority. The Department will ensure that our Education Facility Attendants and contract cleaners adhere to nationally recommended standards for regular cleaning. The Department has increasing capacity with more fixed term and relief Education Facility Attendants.

 

2. What health and hygiene practices are happening in schools?

The best thing we can do to keep ourselves healthy is to make sure we are washing our hands and not touching our faces. Schools will be:

  • adopting strict handwashing protocols – Poster on Hand Washing
  • limiting personal contact
  • reminding students to use their elbow to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze
  • cleaning hard surfaces in classrooms, such as door handles, keyboards, and desks.
  • enforcing social distancing. Events like assemblies, excursions, school camps, fairs, and sports carnivals have been cancelled.

 

3. What is the Department doing for schools that are having difficulty accessing hand wash for their classrooms so students can wash before eating?

The Department of Education has contracts established for the supply of toilet paper, hand towel and Hygiene/Washroom products and are working closely with schools to ensure sufficient supplies.

 

4. Do schools need to have hand sanitiser?

There are several types of hand sanitiser available from our suppliers. However, research shows that washing your hands properly with soap and water is the best method for killing germs.

 

5. Will DoE school pools still be open?

Due to hygiene issues related to the use of pools and the increasing pressure on schools to maintain the level of hygiene required, a decision has been made to close all DoE pool facilities.

 

6. How are we controlling social distancing on school buses? Are buses being cleaned appropriately?

The Department of State Growth manage public buses and bus cleaning contracts and is working with bus operators to introduce practical measures on public transport to ensure that people who need to travel and bus drivers are kept as safe as possible. This includes increasing the frequency of cleaning with a focus on high volume touchpoints and advising passengers on measures they can take to maintain social distance. For more information on precautions being taken, please contact the Department of State Growth.

If the school owns the bus, measures should be taken to ensure the bus is regularly cleaned.

1. What will happen if there is a suspected case in a school?

The Public Health Hotline will be called for guidance on the next steps.

 

2. What will happen if there is a confirmed case in a school?

The school will be closed to allow for Public Health officials to trace any close contacts of the infected person and cleaning to be undertaken. Usual school closure emergency procedures will apply. The school will only be reopened once Public Health has advised it is appropriate to do so. This may take a few days.

1. Will we be getting a refund for the school levies we have paid?

Yes. The Department of Education will process refunds.

 

2. When and how will the refunds be made?

DoE is aiming to have the majority of refunds provided to parents by the end of April with any balance shortly thereafter. The refunds will be provided via a cheque delivered in the post.

 

3. Will my refund be processed through the school?

No. Schools will not be impacted or required to help with the administration of refunds.

 

4. I haven’t paid my levies yet, do I need to do anything?

No. You do not need to do anything further.

 

5. I am doing a levy payment plan – how will this work

You will not be required to make any further payments and you will be refunded what you have paid so far.

 

6. What do I do now that my child’s activity, camp, interstate or overseas trip that has now been cancelled?

The school will provide you with a refund of the amount paid.

 

7. We have already been refunded some money due to a school activity being cancelled, will I receive the rest of my levies?

Yes. You will receive any amount that has not been refunded.

 

8. Who can I contact to discuss my refund?

You can submit an email to stas@education.tas.gov.au

 

9. Will my school be impacted by the refunds?

No. Schools will still receive the same resource funding as previously allocated.

 

10. What is happening with money raised from school fundraising?

If fundraising has been undertaken for a specific trip, and the trip has been cancelled or delayed without cost the funds should be quarantined. This will allow time for discussion at an appropriate time with the involved parties from the school communities about an appropriate alternative use for school activities.

1. What can we do to implement appropriate social distancing measures?

We have developed a poster on social distancing that can be used as a visual aid to help students understand what this means for them.

Our schools have adopted social distancing measures.

This means the cancellation of all:

  • assemblies and presentation nights
  • excursions
  • travel
  • fetes
  • fairs
  • concerts (with audiences)
  • all sports carnivals
  • school camps (both local and interstate)
  • parent-teacher meetings (consider using phone or other technology).

These restrictions will be in place until further notice.

 

2. Are recess and lunchtimes being staggered to lessen student gathering?

If this is a practical measure that schools are able to implement, then it would be supported.

 

3. Are Launching into Learning sessions still operating?

Due to the unique nature of LiL programs in schools and the nature of families attending school sites with their children, the continuation of sessions is a school-based decision. This will need to be made utilising all of the current information and Departmental guidance available.

 

4. How long will it be until school events can resume?

We will be advised by Public Health authorities on when it is safe for group gatherings to resume as normal. You should be aware that it may take several months for things to return to normal.

 

5. Is there any advice around Breakfast Clubs and Kitchen Garden programs?

These programs can continue as normal until advised otherwise.

 

6. Should schools be allowing their facilities to be used for external events (sport, workshops etc)?

Schools are still operating ‘business as usual’ and facilities can still be used for external events if the user wishes to do so following their own risk assessment and ensuring hygiene standards are followed.

 

7. Should Outdoor Education classes be cancelled?

If the activity is extra-curricular then it should be cancelled. If the activity is a core element of a learning program, then it can go ahead as long as it is safe to do so. Appropriate risk management must be in place.

 

8. Will NAPLAN be going ahead?

It was agreed by the Education Ministers on 20 March that NAPLAN will not proceed in 2020. This decision was made, to allow time to focus on the provision of continuity of education and the wellbeing of students and staff in these fluid times.

 

9. Music and PE classes – can they go ahead?

Yes, need to ensure reasonable processes are in place to support good hygiene practices.

 

Can breakfast clubs continue to operate?

Breakfast Clubs – are able to continue with management of good hygiene and social distancing.

1. Is there a resource to help parents with Learning at Home?

Yes. Please visit Learning at Home. This site will support families and students with resources and ideas for learning at home. We will add to this information over time to ensure there is a range of learning options.

 

2. What is on the DoE Learning at Home webpage?

It provides strategies, online learning resources and ideas for helping children learning at home. It provides a Wellbeing section as well as learning resources organised by age groups, along with links off to other excellent Australian education sites.

 

3. How can I support the learning for my child if I am not an educator?

To support learning at home, you are not required to be an expert or trained educator. Your knowledge of a child’s strengths and interests will support creating reasonable expectations.

4. What extra support is being put in place for Years 11 and 12 students?

For questions regarding possible longer-term implications for students in Years 11 and 12, work is being undertaken nationally to determine arrangements. This will consider internal and external assessments and the impact on student pathways to further education (including ATAR). In the interim, arrangements will be made at a local or regional level to continue course coverage as best as possible.

 

5. What if my child needs to be isolated and can’t access learning materials?

Every reasonable effort will be made to provide material to the students where appropriate.

 

6. How will TASC course provision and VET for Years 11 and 12 students be considered?

For any questions that parents have now about course provision and VET for Years 11 and 12 students, we ask you to talk to your child’s school or email, years9to12learning@education.tas.gov.au, and we will work to answer your query as quickly as possible. Where required, we will liaise with TASC.

 

7. If my child is learning at home will the school be providing work for them?

It may be possible in some instances that schools can provide work for students.

 

In the event of a site closure, your school will communicate with you.  The communication will provide information on supporting learning for your child at home. Your school will continue to use their current communication channels.

Remote learning may occur in a variety of ways. Teachers may move some or all your child’s learning into online spaces.  This may include email, the Department’s Learning Management System Canvas or Office 365.  Schools may use offline strategies to ensure all students have access to their learning.

Learning at Home Information for parents

Learning at Home Information for Teachers (Staff Only)

The Department of Education has developed a Fact Sheet on How to talk to children about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). For support with the conversation please read the Fact Sheet on Talking to your child about COVID-19

For more school-related information please read the Parent Frequently Asked Questions

Another helpful, positive resource to share with children is the support about COVID-19 document. Courtesy of @mindheart.kids and author, Manuela Molina.

Learning at Home

In the event of a site closure, your school will communicate with you.  The communication will provide information on supporting learning for your child at home. Your school will continue to use their current communication channels.

Remote learning may occur in a variety of ways. Teachers may move some or all your child’s learning into online spaces.  This may include email, the Department’s Learning Management System Canvas or Office 365.  Schools may use offline strategies to ensure all students have access to their learning.

Learning at Home Information for parents

Learning at Home Information for Teachers (Staff Only)

TASC Accredited Courses

HASS

Do students still need to do work placement for courses that require it?

Schools will be liaising with workplaces to ascertain if their existing placements are in a safe environment. If they are deemed safe, they should only continue with parental approval.

Mixed Field

Will schools be liaising with workplaces and mentors to ascertain if their existing arrangements can be continued?

Yes, and if they are deemed safe, they should only continue with parental approval.

New work requirements that involve engagement with community groups, mentors or businesses will be postponed until safe to do so.

 

Assessments

How does this current situation impact external assessment?

Currently, the Office of Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Accreditation (TASC) still intend to proceed with the planned end of year assessments including folios and written exams in November.

 

University of Tasmania Programs

What’s the advice for the University Connections Program (UCP) and Higher Achiever Program (HAP)?

  • Students are encouraged to regularly check in to their MyLO sites.
  • UCP: University unit coordinators are liaising with teachers as to how courses can/will be taught in response to the latest medical advice.
  • Some UCP units have already been moved to online delivery using MyLO and Canvas. Plans are being put in place to support students remotely, and to provide alternative learning experiences where it has been necessary to cancel or postpone some events.
  • Students who have not yet completed the enrolment process will continue to be supported.
  • HAP: Students will have received information about how their courses will be delivered as the University moves to online teaching.
  • For guidance and advice relating to additional support for these courses, please visit the UTAS website.
  • All other enquiries relating to this program should be directed to enquiries@utas.edu.au

 

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Can students currently attend a vocational placement component of a VET course?

  • They can if it is safe to do so and they have parental approval.
  • Please note that a number of workplaces are not taking students, so the vocational placement may be delayed.

 

What does this mean for learners studying at TasTAFE as part of their Approved Learning program?

  • TasTAFE is moving many of its courses to online.
  • For information about TasTAFE campuses and training sites, visit the TasTAFE website.

 

What happens for learners where VET is delivered at school with TasTAFE as the Registered Training Organisation (RTO):

  • TasTAFE will continue to deliver in school, unless the individual teacher is not well.
  • Learners studying VET with TasTAFE may be able to continue with their study by accessing TasTAFE’s online learning tool, CANVAS. Learners should become familiar with how to access the components of the course.

 

Australian School-Based Apprenticeships (ASbA)

What’s the advice for school-based apprentices undertaking training through TasTAFE?

  • Like all TasTAFE courses some parts will be delivered online
  • For information about TasTAFE campuses and training sites, visit the TasTAFE website.

 

What’s the advice for school-based apprentices undertaking training through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)?

  • Contact the RTO directly for guidance and advice relating to training associated with their apprenticeship or traineeship.

 

Must School-based Apprentice/Trainees still attend work?

  • Contact the workplace directly about whether the apprentice/trainee should attend work. Workplaces are operating on the advice from the Tasmanian Public Health Service.

 

I’m a parent of an ASbA student and worried about them working, who should I talk to?

  • If you have any concerns, please contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

 

Can a contract be suspended rather than cancelled?

  • Apprenticeships or Traineeships may be suspended for reasons such as a ‘work shortage’. The Tasmanian Traineeship and Apprenticeship Council (TTAC) grant the suspensions. To familiarise with the guidelines read page 16 – 17.
  • If the industry that the Trainee/Apprentice is working in is under restrictions, a suspension of the training contract may be appropriate. In this instance, Skills Tasmania has the capacity to suspend the contract or vary minimum hours. All suspensions or variations must be approved by Skills Tasmania. To discuss your specific circumstances, please contact your Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) in the first instance. MAS National 1300 627 628 or MEGT 136 348.

 

Can an ASbA student still participate in their place of work?

 

Does studying at home affect a student’s training contract obligations for their apprenticeship/traineeship?

 

If a student’s ASbA has been cancelled, do they need to enrol in additional subjects at school?

  • Students should speak with their school about what courses and learning options are available to them in the absence of their ASbA in order to ensure they have a full Approved Learning Program.

 

What are an ASbA student’s leave entitlements, can they take leave from their ASbA?

  • Please refer to the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman for any employment advice.

 

Who can ASbA students contact for support?

  • Please contact your Schools ASbA Facilitator if you need any support during this difficult time, or you can contact your Apprenticeship Network Provider. MAS National 1300 627 628 or MEGT 136 348

 

Work Exposure

Can students still participate in Work Experience and work placements?

  • Schools should be liaising with employers to ascertain if their existing placements are in a safe environment.  If they are deemed safe, they should only continue with parental approval.
  • Please note that a number of workplaces are not taking students and establishing any new work placements may be delayed. We therefore advise not to set up any new work placements.

 

Are the Beacon Foundation programs still running in schools?

  • Programs and site tours will be suspended until the end of April.

 

Are the ‘Creating my Career’ events still on?

The following events have been cancelled:

  • Friday 22th May at Paranaple Arts Centre, Devonport
  • Friday 19th June at Launceston Convention Centre, Door of Hope, Launceston
  • The event on Friday 18th September at Hobart Showgrounds is yet to be confirmed, updates will be provided closer to the time

 

Are the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) Hospitality Awareness Days still going ahead?

  • These events have been put on hold. The partner venues and hospitality ambassadors are keen to recommence these events as soon as it is safe to do so. The THA will notify schools when they are able to rebook.

 

Is the THA Year 10 Pathway still open for expressions of interest?

  • Yes! The program is still open to expressions of interest and THA are meeting with local businesses to encourage them to take on Australian School-based Apprentices in 2021. The program will be modified and the THA anticipate most of the information will be provided online in the future. When the work experience component is due, the THA may be able to place students in venues.

 

Is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Work Experience Program still going ahead?

  • Placements have been postponed for those due to be held from now until the end of April
  • Placements arranged for May and beyond will tentatively continue to be planned but the ADF will be reassessing the situation on a fortnightly basis.

 

Is the National Disability Services (NDS) still running their workshops?

  • All booked workshops have been postponed and will be rescheduled. At this stage, the next school event is in June. The NDS will work with the schools they have had already communicated with to look at running the workshops toward the end of the year.