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COVID-19 update: Staying prepared

15 September 2020

We received this update from the Department for Education on 14 September 2020.

 

While there is currently no community transmission of COVID-19 in South Australia, we’re still working closely with SA Health and SAPOL to remain prepared and responsive to the changing nature of the pandemic.

To make sure we’re as ready as possible, we’ve worked with SA Health to plan our response if a second wave of COVID-19 eventuates. These are plans we hope we won’t need to use.

We follow the advice of our Chief Public Health Officer. To date, that advice remains that education and care is an essential service and schools, preschools and children’s centres should remain open and operational as long as it is safe to do so.

Based on our plans, and in the event of any emerging community transmission within South Australia, our actions will include:

  • keeping our schools, preschools and children’s centres open unless SA Health advise otherwise
  • limiting who can enter school, preschool and children’s centre facilities to essential services only
  • clear expectations regarding off site activities
  • ensuring that vulnerable staff and students are supported to work and learn from home
  • implementing any necessary changes in the workplace to ensure the appropriate physical distancing and room density requirements outlined by SA Health.

Ongoing support

In the meantime, we will continue to provide:

  • cleaning of all sites to national AHPPC standards
  • central provision of learning resources and ICT supports
  • central procurement and distribution of hygiene products
  • ongoing and targeted EAP and student support services.

Site closure protocol

We have a well-practised protocol we’ve developed and refined with SA Health to manage a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Once the department is notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19, the relevant education director and principal/director will be contacted and supported through the site closure.

The principal/director will notify all staff and parents of students at the school, preschool or children’s centre.

We will also post information on our social media channels, and SA Health will announce it at their press conference.

The central team will organise for the site to be thoroughly cleaned to AHPPC standards.

SA Health will run all contact tracing and notify those who need to isolate or quarantine.

Teaching, learning and wellbeing support will be provided to staff and students affected.

The site will only reopen on the advice of SA Health.

It’s important to note that the Chief Public Health Officer will decide the best way to mitigate further transmission, which means there may be slight variances for each temporary site closure.

Face masks: current advice from SA Health

SA Health does not generally recommend wearing masks in SA, as there is no prevalent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time.

A mask is not a substitute for other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as:

  • staying at home when unwell (even mild respiratory symptoms)
  • physical distancing (1.5m rule)
  • hand hygiene
  • cough/sneeze etiquette.

Inappropriate use of masks is associated with increased risk.

Wearing a mask can give a false sense of security and can result in the neglect of the above-mentioned more important measures.

Interstate camps

There are still a handful of schools monitoring border restrictions in the hope of heading to Canberra or NSW for school camps.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and the flow on effect to border restrictions and quarantine periods, the department recommends these schools work with their booking agency or the department’s contract support team to explore alternative camp options in South Australia.

More information

We will hold a webinar this week where we can provide more information on our preparedness for COVID-19.

If you have any questions about managing the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace, please call the department’s COVID-19 Information Line on 8226 2000 (8am to 5pm).

You can also call the government’s coronavirus health information line on 1800 020 080. The line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.