Explained: The return-to-school plan for NSW students

The NSW Government has announced a staggered return to school for all students from late October.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said today the goal will be for every school staff member to receive COVID-19 vaccination by November 8, with a special day for staff to be vaccinated on September 6.

"We are asking for everybody who works on a school campus to be vaccinated by November 8," Ms Berejiklian said.

"A large proportion of teachers are already vaccinated but we are calling out for anybody, to any teacher, who is not vaccinated to get vaccinated."

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Later date for HSC exams

HSC exams will be pushed back to November 9, with a revised timetable and guidelines for COVID-safe exams to be released by the NSW Education Standards Authority in early September.

The government says the delay of the HSC exams will not disadvantage NSW students when applying to university.

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NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the university sector had been consulted.

"We expect that means the results will come out in mid-January, but the university sector has been consulted, and are able to accommodate those changes," Ms Mitchell said.

"And that means any Year 12 student who wants to go to university will be able to be offered a place, in line with previous years."

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Ms Mitchell said existing measures were in place to deal with "illness and misadventure" in the event an HSC student was unable to attend an exam.

"Any particular student on the day of their exams who cannot attend because they are unwell, if they are impacted by being a COVID close contact, there are already procedures in place to help those people in terms of the assessment," she said.

"We did that last year and we do it when there are bushfires or natural events and there are good mechanisms in place."

Staggered return, restrictions remain at school

Children in any area of NSW which comes out of lockdown before October 25 will be automatically allowed to return to school.

The NSW Department of Education says its plan aims to bring students back in a COVID-safe way while stay at home orders are still in place.

Students will return to face-to-face learning in the following order:

  • From 25 October – Kindergarten and Year 1
  • From 1 November Year 2, 6 and 11
  • From 8 November – Year 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10

Year 12 students are already able to return in a limited way and this will continue for the remainder of Term 3.

From October 25, Year 12 will have full-time access to school campuses and their teachers.

If stay-at-home orders are lifted in a local government area or region before October 25, all students living or learning in that area will return to face-to-face learning.

If COVID-19 cases in LGAs increase significantly, learning from home will resume for that LGA until case numbers drop.

Ms Mitchell said students will return to school on level three restrictions.

This will involve minimal mixing and no extra adults on campus; no assemblies and large gatherings; and mask-wearing will be compulsory for all staff and all high school students.

Primary school students are also advised to wear masks.

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