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With a rapidly changing situation at hand, we present a summary of the key considerations independent schools need to take into consideration as they consider re-opening in the next phase of the COVID–19 pandemic.

  • Term 2 will begin as it finished in Term 1. The majority of NSW students will be learning from home. Schools will be open and operational for students that need to attend but where practical, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.
  • From week three of Term 2, the NSW Department of Education will begin a managed return to school.
  • The Premier and Minister for Education have announced a phased operating model for NSW schools during COVID-19. The new model will see students being reintroduced to some face-to-face learning on campus starting from week 3.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

  • All employers or businesses must take action to eliminate or manage the risk of Covid-19 to workers and others in the work environment including to children or students
  • Employers must take extra precautions, whilst supporting parents to take practical learning measures and ensure social-distancing continues.
  • To promote the health and safety of staff, parents and students in schools, employers should continue to:
    • Encourage good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene by ensuring that adequate handwashing facilities and soap stations are available;
    • Stay updated and informed of any public health orders, social distancing and self-isolation requirements;
    • Strictly comply with travel and transport advice;
    • Be aware of the coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms;
    • Plan ways to reduce in-person contact for students and staff
    • Cancel or postpone;
      • Assemblies, events and conferences
      • All major arts, sports and initiative activities and events (including whole-sporting events and inter-school events involving three or more schools)
      • Excursions of travel (both within and outside Australia)
    • Limit movements and contacts between students and class groups;
    • Enable separation of students and avoid queuing;
    • Encourage outdoor, rather than indoor gatherings (whilst maintaining social distancing requirements);
    • Actively encourage sick children, students and staff to stay at home to self-isolate;
    • Ensure that any child, student or staff member who becomes ill or has been in contact with a person who has been infected with coronavirus, is separated from others and sent home to self-isolate as soon as possible.

EMPLOYMENT

  • Employers should work with their employees to find solutions that suit their individual needs and circumstances.
  • You must allow workers to continue to access available entitlements, including leave, under the relevant enterprise agreement, award, contracts of employment and workplace policies.

LIABILITY

  • Employers have a continued duty of care for the health and safety of their employees, staff and students.
  • Employers are required to:
    • Provide and maintain a work environment without risk to the health and safety of individuals involved;
    • Provide adequate facilities for workers in carry out their work;
    • Encourage all staff and students to practice good hygiene; and
    • Implement controls to reduce direct contact, large indoor/outdoor gatherings and environmental exposure.
  • Given the intended managed return to School, Schools should give careful consideration about of how to comply with their duty to students and staff in the circumstances.

SOLVENCY ISSUES

  • Schools should be mindful of the effects of the COVID-19 on their financial resources. Delays in school fees being paid, or requests for abatement can have a serious impact on their ability to meet day to day financial demands.
  • School’s should in turn make attempts to re-negotiate leasing or other ongoing contractual expenditure.
  • Temporary amendments have been made to the Corporations Act to provide some relief to entities covered by the act. Our explanation of these amendments can be accessed here.

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