News, Culture & Society

School start finish times in NSW and Victoria – as Australia announces new rules

Students across Australia are preparing to head back to school with eased Covid restrictions this week. 

In Victoria, the mask mandate for grades three to six have been scrapped, while those deemed close contacts no longer have to isolate.

In NSW, teachers and students will still be able to attend school if someone they live with contracts Covid-19.

 Students across Australia are preparing to head back to school after the Easter holidays with eased Covid restrictions this week (pictured, students at Tweed Heads Public School)

People no longer need to isolate for seven days if they're a household or close contact of a positive case (pictured, students return to school in Sydney)

People no longer need to isolate for seven days if they’re a household or close contact of a positive case (pictured, students return to school in Sydney)

The changes to isolation requirements are in line with those for the general community, which changed on Friday night to no longer require people to isolate for seven days if they’re a household or close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The changes will help ensure continuity in the state’s schools and prevent disruption in teaching and learning, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said.

‘School is where our students learn best and we need to do everything we can to make sure that face to face learning continues with minimal disruption as we move into the colder months,’ Ms Mitchell said.

Teachers and students will be required to inform their schools of their close contact status.

They will have to take a rapid antigen test daily before attending and must wear a face mask indoors, with the exception of primary school students for whom face masks are only a strong recommendation.

Students in grades three to six Victoria will no longer be required to wear a mask as they return to classrooms on Tuesday. 

The contentious rule, which was criticised by several health experts in the interests of learning outcomes and socialising, was introduced last October. 

The Victorian Department of Education and Training still recommends face coverings in school settings, with some students to continue to wear a mask. 

In NSW teachers and students will still be able to attend school if someone they live with contracts Covid-19 (pictured, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet)

In NSW teachers and students will still be able to attend school if someone they live with contracts Covid-19 (pictured, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet)

In Victoria, the mask mandate for grades three to six have been scrapped, while students and school staff deemed close contacts no longer have to isolate (pictured, Sydney students)

 In Victoria, the mask mandate for grades three to six have been scrapped, while students and school staff deemed close contacts no longer have to isolate (pictured, Sydney students)

While school staff and volunteers are required to be triple-vaccinated in Victoria, the vaccine requirement for parents and visitors to school grounds has been scrapped. 

Previously, visitors had to show proof of two doses, or a vaccination exemption. 

Victorian students deemed close contacts of a Covid-19 case will no longer be required to quarantine, as long as additional safety precautions are taken. 

Parents or carers will be asked to notify the school the student is a close contact, with the child required to return a negative RAT five out of seven days.

Students deemed close contacts will also be asked to wear a mask while indoors.  

Free rapid antigen tests are expected to be distributed to parents and school staff early on in the term in both NSW and Victoria. 

Students deemed close contacts will still be required to wear a mask indoors (pictured, students wear masks at Port Melbourne Secondary College)

Students deemed close contacts will still be required to wear a mask indoors (pictured, students wear masks at Port Melbourne Secondary College)

Testing is still voluntary for those who are not close contacts of a Covid-19 case, however students and school staff are still encouraged to test twice a week. 

Retired teachers and those in their final year of study will also be on standby to cover gaps.

The return of students and teachers to classrooms was a primary focus for the NSW government as term one approached, with testing protocols and other requirements to reduce the spread of the virus in place.

More than 600 school staff and 2400 students tested positive in the first week.

NSW also announced this week changes to vaccine mandates for workers in some sectors and industries including teachers.

More rapid antigen tests are expected to be distributed to parents and school staff early on in the term (pictured, parents and students return to school in Melbourne)

More rapid antigen tests are expected to be distributed to parents and school staff early on in the term (pictured, parents and students return to school in Melbourne)

Aged care and disability staff will still require vaccination, but other areas will shift to mandates based on the assessed risk of the role.

That could mean vaccine mandates for workers such as teachers and police are adjusted, however, a spokesperson for Ms Mitchell told AAP the public health orders covering teachers are current until mid-May.

Students and teachers return for term two on Tuesday.

Schools will continue maximising fresh air and ventilation in a bid to keep virus transmission down, leaving windows and doors open where practical, Ms Mitchell said.

There has also been additional work done to equip schools in the lead up to winter with air purifiers being provided for colder climate schools, improvements to ventilation and testing of air conditioning and heating.

If a school-wide outbreak is detected then those schools are required to cease large indoor gatherings and off-site and inter-school activities, separate students, limit visitors and potentially shift back to learning from home.

While the government encourages schools to organise excursions and extra-curricular activities, Covid-19 factors must be considered. 

This includes if the activity can be held outdoors and limited to a small group. 

School start and finish times in Australia 

The school day is generally between 8:30am and 3:30pm, however, specific times are determined locally based on factors such as: bus schedules, links with other schools, organisation of the school day, school speed zones.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk