Including singing, music, dancing, assemblies, excursions, sport
Does the 2 square metre rule apply for all activities in schools, e.g., assemblies, graduation ceremonies, singing, and music ensembles?
The PHO currently only prescribes density limits (2msq rule) for hospitality venues and nightclubs.
Under what circumstances may these activities and events proceed?
In independent schools, operational decisions should comply with the Public Health Order, consider relevant Health advice and be based on a school’s own risk assessment processes.
There are currently minimal restrictions on school activities with the emphasis on each school to plan for business as usual in a COVID-safe way by implementing school-based risk assessment processes and risk mitigation to enable continuity of education and to support wellbeing.
Schools should continue to have a COVID-Safe Plan in place outlining protocols and risk mitigation strategies for specific activities and the operation of the school.
Schools have the autonomy to make their own operational decisions balancing risk and safety measures to enable continuity of education and to support wellbeing.
Where possible, schools are encouraged to continue to minimise the opportunity for contact between students and staff members, through strategies to minimise exposure across different groups, particularly in the context of the highly transmissible Omicron variant that is the prevalent strain at the moment.
Are offsite activities permitted, such as camps, swimming carnivals and inter-school sport?
The level of risk for student activities will vary depending on the nature of the activity. There is no restriction on schools in providing on-site or off-site activities including excursions, incursions and of course routine learning activities. Schools just need to assess the risk of each activity and plan risk mitigation accordingly.
Schools should carefully consider the need to run high-risk activities in Term 1 such as overnight camps, large gatherings of students such as assemblies and carnivals as well as mixing of students across schools like inter-school sports.
Schools are not restricted from running high-risk activities, but Health advice strongly recommends minimising high-risk activities and gatherings that are extraneous to student learning, particularly at the start of Term 1 while cases and transmission in the community is expected to continue to be high.
If a school chooses to run a high-risk activity, then additional COVID safe planning based on the school’s own risk assessment should be undertaken to mitigate risk. Schools should also consider mechanisms for parents/carers to be able to make informed decisions and provide consent that acknowledges the risk for their child’s participation in high-risk activities.
Music and singing
Some of the activities in the Arts such as music, singing and dancing are recognised as higher risk activities.
There are restrictions on singing and dancing in community settings, but these restrictions do not currently extend to school settings.
As higher-risk activities, schools should undertake their own risk assessment process to identify risk mitigation strategies for managing music, singing and dancing.
Last year there were restrictions on which instruments students could play – are there any
restrictions on music? On singing or choirs?
There are not expected to be restrictions on particular instruments.
As with other higher-risk activities, schools should undertake their own risk assessment process to identify risk mitigation strategies for instruments, singing and choirs.
What is the approach for school sport? What restrictions do schools need to be mindful of?
There are no restrictions on sport in school or community settings. Some sports interactions pose a higher risk than others. Particularly sport that introduces the mixing of students across cohorts or across schools like inter-school sport.
Schools should undertake their own risk assessment processes for conducting sport to identify risk mitigation strategies considering mechanisms for parents/carers to acknowledge risk and provide informed consent in relation to their child’s participation in these activities.
AISNSW is working with the education sectors to develop some guidance around risk and risk mitigation for high-risk activities across the areas of music and sport that will be made available to schools to assist in their own risk assessment processes. In the meantime, schools can use the advice that was in place in 2021 to inform planning for the start of Term.