[Update Friday 16 July 2021]

Information on COVID-19 and Return to School for Term 3

 Introduction  

As a reminder regarding COVID-19 practice and procedure, our school primarily takes advice from NSW Health, the Association of Independent Schools NSW and the NSW Department of Education, as we endeavour to keep our community safe. Based on community circumstances and virus trends, NSW Health now identifies each LGA to be Level 1 to Level 4 risk in NSW, with each level having a different set of restrictions to adhere to for schooling. No school is NSW is currently identified at Level 1 (lowest risk). SMGS has been identified as a Level 2 school under the current NSW Health orders. Level 2 applies to schools outside of Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour). 

Attendance 

Students and staff are expected to be at school unless they have any COVID symptoms, in which case we ask those individuals to remain at home, even if symptoms are mild. We will need to send day students home if arriving at school presenting with respiratory-type symptoms. Boarders will be managed in-house by SMGS staff following the usual self-isolating and testing procedures. They will be cared for and supported by staff whilst unwell. Individuals may return to class if they present a negative test result AND are symptom-free. For ongoing symptoms believed to be something such as hay fever or asthma, individuals will require a medical clearance provided to the school, or will need to remain at home for ten full days.

Face-to-Face Learning vs Virtual Learning  

Advice from NSW Health is that Level 2 regional schools can conduct lessons face-to-face for all classes from K-12.  At this time, activities such as Assembly and Chapel will not go ahead, to reduce contact in larger groups, but will return when enabled. Year 12 students are a high priority, given the proximity to the HSC Trials and final examinations and, as such, may have their Tutor Group structure adjusted for some or all of Term 3 to reduce contact with other cohorts.

Please be aware that if the Public Health Order is updated and requires virtual learning for our school or region, our teachers are ready and well prepared to make a swift adjustment, as we did in 2020. Our hope is that this is not required at all, but we are ready if this becomes the case at any time.  

Hygiene – Masks and Other Practices  

Recommended enhanced hygiene arrangements will remain in place at SMGS, which are:  

  • Reminders to wash hands regularly
  • Hand sanitiser should be used when entering and leaving classrooms (provided in all rooms around the school)
  • Cough or sneeze into elbows and dispose of tissues immediatelyand safely
  • Avoid physicalcontact and greetings
  • Enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces
  • Indoor areas will be ventilated daily to maintain airflow where possible.

While at school, masks or face coverings are recommended in all indoor settings for all staff and for all secondary school students (i.e. Year 7 to 12). Note that some exemptions apply for certain individuals with health, medical or personal needs, which can be discussed with individuals as appropriate.

We recommend students bring their own masks to school daily. We ask that reusable masks be washed daily at home. Note that, to date, SMGS has not been provided with any masks at any time and we rely on individuals sourcing their own. However, we keep a limited supply of disposable masks for occasions, where needed. We ask students to speak to Mrs Thompson (Years 7-9) and Mrs Wilson (Years 10-12) for any assistance or queries regarding masks.

Excursions, Activities and Events   

To commence Term 3 and to reduce the exposure of visitors onsite, we will hold some events virtually, where possible. There are some exceptions and we will advise relevant groups via additional communication. Examples are:

Modified to virtual delivery:                  

Information Evenings and Parent-Teacher Interviews

Proceeding with COVID-safe plans:        

Our ESA and Wednesday programs will proceed with a COVID-safe plan, along with some internal activities for students

On hold until further notice:                  

Parent helpers and non-essential visitors.

Transport to and from School (Buses)  

Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged thirteen years and over, staff when travelling to and from school, and during school excursions by public transport or chartered or private transport services. All SMGS school buses and transport will require students to wear masks during all bus travel. Students are encouraged to practise good hand hygiene when travelling. 

Visitors Onsite   

Non-essential visitors are not permitted in schools at this time. However, some visitors are permitted in schools whilst adhering to further guidelines. Essential examples include:

  • parents needing to meet staff about the wellbeing needs of their child where not able to occur virtually/digitally/by telephone
  • counselling services
  • uniform purchases
  • choosing a new school for your child
  • food and operational service providers, maintenance and required trades
  • student drop-off/pick-up by parents, by remaining in vehicles unless assisting children to enter/exit the vehicle (in which case social distancing and avoiding gathering with other parents).

All staff and visitors will be required to check in every day with the provided QR codes around the school. Parent drop-off/pick-up is exempted if practised as described above.

Boarding Residential Arrangements  

As advised by NSW Health and AISNSW, boarders may return upon completing a compulsory questionnaire tosatisfactorily determine the following:

  • that the boarder and family members (or any close contacts) have not visited any of the listed exposure sites on the NSW Health website – https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/case-locations-and-alerts.aspx
  • that they are not a close contact of any person who returns a positive test
  • that they remain symptom-free
  • that any boarder from an LGA with greater restrictions than our region (i.e. Greater Sydney) must, in addition, provide the school with a negative COVID test result in the forty-eight hours prior to entering boarding (seventy-two hours may be considered, on a case-by-case basis) to confirm they are not positive at that time.

SMGS senior staff will assess each questionnaire undertaken and contact individual boarding families, where the criteria are not met, with further instructions and advice prior to returning.

General

The following arrangements will be in effect until the Public Health Order changes or is updated further, in which case we will notify you without delay if any change impacts on our school community.

Please contact the relevant Head of School for more information, as follows: