Schools advised to limit large gatherings

Schools advised to limit large gatherings

Schools in Western Australia are advised to avoid large gatherings at school to limit transmission of COVID-19 from those who are asymptomatic.

The Chief Health Officer has advised schools to limit gatherings of pupils and staff at school to class groups or small groups within a year level.

New guidance for gatherings on school grounds provides examples of how regular meetings and events can be held safely, including:

  • class assemblies or assemblies of small groups within an age group
  • online staff meetings
  • collaborative staff planning via online teams or in learning zones
  • staff lunch breaks at Learning Zone facilities where possible.

Infrequent special events such as inter-school carnivals, camps and school balls may take place at this time, in accordance with health advice.

However, as previously announced, public health measures may be strengthened depending on the high number of cases in the community. These measures would include specific definitions of close contacts for all schools and new isolation and testing protocols for close contacts in school settings.

The new guidance complements the government’s safe return to school plan, which includes:

  • ventilation strategy
  • enhanced cleaning services
  • contingency plans for workforce and remote learning in public schools
  • mask wearing for secondary students, school staff and other adults in accordance with the mask mandate currently in place for the Perth, Peel, South West, Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions
  • mandatory vaccinations for school employees and regular visitors.

“The response to any case of COVID-19 in a school takes into account the particular circumstances and the risk to public health, but there are now a range of measures in place in schools to minimize the risk of transmission,” said the Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.

“Combined with additional measures introduced through the state government’s safe return to school plan ahead of term one, this updated guidance for schools will help minimize the number of students or staff affected by the presence of a positive case.

“It is important that schools continue to provide students with quality teaching and learning as we take reasonable and proportionate steps to respond to the changing environment we live in with COVID-19.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/tiero

Sara H. Byrd