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State school operations information

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Standard hygiene measures

Schools must maintain COVID-safe health and hygiene measures, including:

  • staff, students or visitors must not attend school sites if sick
  • regular hand washing and hand sanitising, particularly before and after eating, and after going to the toilet, as outlined in this instructional video.
  • increased cleaning of school facilities, particularly high-frequency touch points such as door handles, light switches, desks and water fountains or bubblers
  • regular cleaning of playground equipment and play materials
  • physical distancing of adults.

Staff should also:

  • avoid sharing small office spaces
  • adhere to physical distancing in staff rooms and other shared spaces
  • open windows to promote air flow where environmental conditions, such as cold weather, allow.

Confirmed case management

Queensland Health's Public Health Unit will contact a school to advise of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their school community and will advise of any additional measures such as quarantine or contact tracing that are required. Schools must report confirmed COVID-19 cases or any contact made by the Public Health Unit through existing reporting channels ( departmental employees only). In line with usual departmental protocols and in accordance with health advice, schools may need to close for a short time in the event of a confirmed case. This time will be used to support contact tracing and specialist cleaning as required.

Face masks

To stay up-to-date with the current COVID-19 restrictions for wearing face masks, check the Queensland Government COVID-19 website as this advice can change frequently.

For hints on protecting your voice when wearing a face mask in the classroom, visit the health and wellbeing during COVID-19 page ( departmental employees only).

When to wear a face mask in schools

During restrictions

The following advice applies when COVID-19 restrictions are in place that include wearing face masks.

  • All staff must wear a face mask indoors while at school, except when seated.
  • Teachers and students can remove masks when seated. Teachers can remove masks indoors when able to maintain physical distancing from students. 

  • For example – teachers and staff who are teaching at the front of the classroom while maintaining physical distancing from students can remove their masks.

  • Adults, including volunteers, family members, contractors and other visitors are required to wear a face mask indoors at all times while on school grounds, unless they are seated.

For staff working with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, face shields are available. Schools can purchase face shields from suppliers listed on the COVID-19 supplies and procurement page ( departmental employees only). More information on the care of face shields is available on the Putting on, taking off and caring for face shields factsheet (DOCX, 1.1MB) ( departmental employees only). Please note face shields cannot be shared.

Adults and students who have visited an impacted area must follow the relevant restrictions for that location for 14 days after leaving the area.

There are some exceptions to the requirements to wear a face mask. Visit the Queensland Health website for more information.

Students wearing face masks

  • High school students (regardless of age) must wear a face mask indoors on school premises (except when seated) and when travelling on dedicated school transport.
  • Exceptions to wearing a face mask, including for anyone who has a medical condition or disability that may be made worse by wearing a mask, including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on their face, a mental health condition or experienced trauma. 
  • Some students may experience anxiety or sensory sensitivities with regards to wearing a mask. Schools are encouraged to support students and to make reasonable adjustments. Parents and/or students do not need a medical certificate to prove they have a reason for not wearing a face mask. Any concerns about students not wearing a mask should be discussed with the parent.
  • Students who are not in high school and wish to wear a face mask should be supported to do so.

When restrictions are not in place

When there is no requirement to wear face masks due to COVID-19 restrictions, school staff wanting to wear a face mask at work should consult with their principal/manager. This request will be supported however in certain circumstances masks may not be able to be worn for example, where the nature of a person's work means that clear visibility of the mouth is essential.

Discussions regarding an employee's request to wear a face mask while at work will need to consider an employee's duties and:

  • appropriateness and style of face mask considering year level and student cohort
  • any reasonable adjustments required in the workplace
  • any communication required with the school community (e.g. to students, parents and other staff)
  • students who wish to wear a face mask while at school should be supported to do so.

Students

Attendance and roll marking

Same day student absence notification ( departmental employees only) requirements apply when students are learning onsite or learning at home. Schools must notify parents or carers of an unexplained absence of their child as soon as practicable on the day of absence.

Where medical advice supports the need for a student to remain at home and still access their learning program, schools record the student’s absence as Code F: off campus activity. As usual, where a student is sick and unable to participate in their learning program, schools record the student’s absence as Code I: illness and medical appointments.

In the event of a local government area or state-wide lockdown, only children of essential workers and vulnerable children can attend school sites for supervision of their learning. All other students will be learning@home. For students attending school, schools mark the student present on the roll. For students learning@home, schools record the student’s participation as Code F: off campus activity. Where a student is sick and unable to participate in their learning program, schools record the student’s absence as Code I: illness and medical appointments.

For schools in the impacted LGAs, the first day of lockdown is to be recorded as a Non-School Day ( departmental employees only). Any days where schools are closed (i.e. due to a confirmed case of COVID-19) will also be recorded as a non-school day in the OneSchool school calendar and rolls are not required to be marked. For children of essential workers and vulnerable children who attend school for supervision on non-school days (the first day of lockdown), schools must maintain a record of all students who are on site.

For more information, refer to OneSchool - COVID-19 Operating Guidelines - FAQs for Student Attendance Management ( departmental employees only).

Academic reporting

For academic reporting, schools will make reporting decisions based on what has been taught and assessed. The requirements for academic reporting are set out in the reporting to parents section of the P–12 curriculum assessment and reporting framework.

Unless a local government area or state-wide lockdown is in place, parent-teacher interviews approved by the principal are permitted, adhering to physical distancing and other COVID-19 control measures. Where possible, options for teleconference or online platforms will be available.

Advice from the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority

The Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) will publish updates regarding curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment and reporting as required.

Circumstances in which students should be supported to learn at home

While students are learning onsite, schools are not required to provide home-based learning options unless there are specific circumstances justifying the student's absence.

Students unable to attend school or participate in the learning program due to medical reasons should be supported by their school, just as they would in the case of any extended student medical absence. The school's approach to learning for the student should consider the expected duration of absence, the student's learning needs, available tools and resources, and the school's established approach to supporting continuity of learning.

The learning@home website will remain live.

Student protection

At all times, including where a student is learning@home, any concerns of risk of harm to the student must be addressed in line with the department's student protection procedures. All student protection measures and training for staff and visitors must be maintained at all times.

Staff

Where schools are required to reduce the number of staff on school sites due to a lockdown, this includes teacher aides, itinerant staff (e.g. therapists) and support staff. Staff who complete work that can only be done onsite (e.g. groundscare, cleaning, caring for animals) should attend work where possible, ensuring they comply with health directions.

Principals and leadership teams should support and manage arrangements for vulnerable employees ( departmental employees only), with any arrangements reviewed monthly. The vulnerable worker assessment form (DOCX, 364KB) ( departmental employees only) should be completed for any vulnerable employees who wish to voluntarily return to work.

Staff working from home are required to develop a work plan (DOCX, 49KB) ( departmental employees only) with their supervisor that outlines their responsibilities and duties. Staff hours of work will be consistent with the attendance arrangements already in place at each school and determined in accordance with the school's local arrangements and industrial agreements.

Schools will need to make alternative arrangements and/or engage additional staff using school funds to support teaching and learning across the school including the classes of vulnerable workers who are not able to attend work.

University preservice teachers

Preservice teachers are to be considered in the same way as staff and welcomed on all school sites. It is important that preservice teachers continue their practical placements unless advised otherwise by Queensland Health.

Visitors on school sites

Schools should refer to the Queensland COVID-19 planning framework to determine when visitors are allowed on school sites.

COVID-safe measures apply to all adults. This includes check-in requirements, physical distancing between adults, staying home if sick and ensuring effective hygiene.

All Chief Health Officer directions must also be followed.

Schools are to remind parents and visitors of these practices, especially maintaining physical distancing at drop off and pick up, outside classrooms and at the school gate.

Parents

Parents and carers are welcome on school sites and to attend school events and activities, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown.

Any additional Chief Health Officer directions, including wearing face masks, must be followed.

Schools are encouraged to record details of parents’ and carers’ who attend school events. This can be done via the Check In Qld app.

Contractors and external workers

Schools will need to refer to the Queensland COVID-19 planning framework regarding access to schools sites by contractors, suppliers or external support workers.

During a local government area or state-wide lockdown, unless a school is closed, construction and maintenance activities can continue in areas of the school that are unoccupied by students and staff. Contractors and schools must ensure interactions between contractors, staff, students or other persons is kept to a minimum.

All contractors, suppliers and external workers must to adhere to school visitor sign in arrangements and schools must maintain a record of their contact details to enable contact tracing if required. This must include each visitor's full name, email address, contact telephone number, date and time of visit. Schools may choose to use the Check In Qld app for this purpose.

Other visitors

Other visitors are welcome on school sites, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown. Any additional Chief Health Officer directions, including wearing face masks, must be followed.

All visitors must adhere to school visitor sign in arrangements and schools must maintain a record of visitors, including volunteers and visiting departmental staff, to enable contact tracing if required. This must include each visitor's full name, email address, contact telephone number, date and time of visit. Schools may choose to use the Check In Qld app for this purpose.

School activities

School activities, such as assemblies, excursions or camps, instrumental music programs, ensembles and choirs, school sports and other events, are permitted to be held, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown.

Parents, carers and visitors are welcome to attend these events on school sites, adhering to COVID-safe measures and any other Chief Health Officer directions and restrictions, such as wearing face masks.

At an external venue, principals must ensure that a COVID Safe Event Checklist has been completed, including excursions or camps held at Department of Education Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres (O&EEC) with residential facilities.

When attending events at external venues, a school group is not required to check in school-aged children. Adult chaperones (including staff and volunteers) must check in to the venue using the Check In Qld app.

Schools must retain details of the students attending and, if requested, provide relevant information for contact tracing purposes.

Excursions and camps

In the event of a local government area or state-wide lockdown, continuation of excursions or camps that are already underway should be reviewed in light of current Chief Health Officer directions and in consultation with the respective regional office.

Principals must ensure that a COVID Safe Event Checklist has been completed for any excursions or camps, including those held at Department of Education Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres (O&EEC) with residential facilities.

The activity consent form must be completed for any student attending an excursion or camp. The form enables information to be shared in compliance with Chief Health Officer directions.

If consent has not been provided via the activity consent form, or by other written means that will allow the school and venue to comply with Chief Health Officer directions, the student will be unable to participate.

Excursion/camp risk assessments must be undertaken prior to approval and must take into account approved COVID-19 control measures and quarantine requirements if restrictions are imposed on an area visited, e.g. the area is declared a hotspot, either during or shortly after the excursion or camp.

Instrumental music programs, ensembles and choirs

Schools are to follow the instrumental music program guidelines for managing hazards associated with COVID-19.

School sports

Schools are able to conduct intra-school, inter-school and representative school sport programs for both indoor and outdoor sports (including contact sports), unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown.

Shared equipment

Shared equipment such as practical workshop resources, musical instruments and sports equipment used within the school, or equipment loaned to students to take home, such as books, will require appropriate cleaning and hygiene management as outlined in the COVID-19 cleaning of equipment for practical subjects (PDF, 272KB) ( departmental employees only).

The loan of equipment other than books must be considered and assessed by each school on a case-by-case basis. It is recommended that these items are loaned on a long-term basis.

School functions

Schools can hold functions as long as:

  • physical distancing of 1.5 metres is maintained between adults
  • off-site, a COVID Safe Event Checklist is completed by the venue or school.

A school group attending a venue as part of school function is not required to check in school-aged children. Adult chaperones (including staff, officials, volunteers and spectators) must check in to the venue using the Check In Qld app.

Schools must retain details of the students attending and, if requested, provide relevant information for contact tracing purposes.

At onsite events, schools may choose to record the details of parents and carers for contact tracing purposes. All other visitors must to adhere to school visitor sign in arrangements.

External programs held on school sites

Activities, such as holiday programs and playgroups facilitated by external organisations, or community users of school facilities, are permitted on school sites, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown.

Principals must ensure these organisations are operating in line with the Queensland COVID-19 planning framework (PDF, 230KB) and the requirements of Queensland Government COVID Safe Businesses, including use of the Check In Qld app.

Outside school hours care and vacation care

Outside school hours care services and vacation care programs will continue to operate as normal, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown or advised otherwise by Queensland Health.

Contact tracing for school events

Check In Qld app

Please refer to the Queensland Health information regarding Check in Qld app requirements for Queensland State Schools.

Schools are encouraged to use the Check In Qld app to record attendance for contact tracing purposes.

Schools need to register as a business and display the provided posters in multiple accessible locations at the venue.

Sign on sheets

Where schools and regions are recording parent or spectator contact information via sign-on sheets, the following privacy statement must be included on the sign-on sheet. Parents and spectators will be asked to view the statement, however, there is no need for a separate document to be signed.

The Department of Education is collecting personal information of parents of state school and non-state school students, and any other persons in attendance, in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles prescribed under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld), in order to record the details of parents and any other persons attending events controlled or operated by the department, to enable the department to comply with its obligations under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) and Disaster Management Act 2003 (Qld). This information will only be accessed by authorised staff within the department. Your personal information will not be given to any other person or agency without your permission or where we are required by law.

External venues

For events hosted by an external venue, school groups are not required to check in school-aged children. Adult chaperones (including staff, officials, volunteers and spectators) must check in to the venue using the Check In Qld app.

Schools must retain details of the students attending and, if requested, provide relevant information for contact tracing purposes.

The venue must record the details of any spectators, however, there is no requirement for the department or schools to record these details.

Any questions or queries can be directed to the Privacy mailbox at privacy@qed.qld.gov.au.

Boarding school facilities

Further information regarding the operation of state school-operated boarding facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic is available in the guidelines for state school-operated boarding facilities (PDF, 464KB) ( departmental employees only).

Information regarding the operation of non-state boarding schools should be obtained from the individual boarding school.

Cash handling

It is strongly recommended that payments for school services and activities (such as tuckshops, uniform shops, excursions or other service or purchase) are made electronically.

Where it is necessary to handle cash, staff must practise good hand hygiene, including washing their hands or using hand sanitiser as soon as possible once the transaction has been completed.

Although the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is low, Queensland Health advise that limiting the handling of cash is one way to minimise the risk of infection to staff and volunteers.

Cleaning

Additional cleaning is to be implemented until further notice. School cleaning must prioritise frequently used areas with extra attention on high touch point surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, desks, toilets, taps and sinks. This also includes sick rooms and student service areas.

Emergency management

Emergency Response Plan (ERP) evacuation drills can occur, unless restricted by a local government area or state-wide lockdown.

Alternative assembly points must be considered when planning for emergencies that may occur.

All emergency drills should must be entered into MyHR Workplace Health and Safety ( departmental employees only).

Health support procedures

All state schools, including special schools, must implement student health plans and ensure student health support procedures are enacted at all response levels.

Employees must use gloves at all times when providing student health supports. Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be required for certain health procedures.

For advice regarding the type of PPE required for a specific health support procedure, including correct use, please consult with your State Schools registered nurse. More information is available on the hygiene and personal protective equipment for health support procedure (DOCX, 875KB) ( departmental employees only).

Hygiene supplies

Schools should actively monitor cleaning and hygiene supplies and reorder in advance of needing additional materials. If schools are having difficulty obtaining cleaning chemicals, hygiene products (such as soap and sanitiser) or PPE (required to perform specialised health procedures), please contact Procurement Services on 1300 366 612 or by emailing Procurement.OCPO@qed.qld.gov.au.

School transport

Dedicated school transport services for students will continue to operate. These services are exclusively for students travelling to and from school, or activities related to outside school hours care and to attend school sport, excursions and camps. This includes specialist school transport for students with disability in minibus and taxi services.

When restrictions are in place, school students over 12 years of age must wear a face mask when travelling on dedicated school transport services. Parents, volunteers or drivers are also required to wear a face mask and follow Chief Health Officer directives.

Students over 12 years of age must wear a face mask when travelling to/from school on public transport, as well as following any other Chief Health Officer directions when restrictions are in place.

Physical distancing should be maintained at bus interchange locations, at pick-up and drop-off, and on other shared transport services.

Use of school facilities and amenities

Principals may negotiate the use of their facilities for external users if the external user is operating in line with the Queensland COVID-19 planning framework and the requirements of Queensland Government COVID Safe Businesses, including use of the Check In Qld app.

During a local government area or state-wide lockdown, community groups are not permitted to use state school facilities.

In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19, Queensland Health will contact any community groups who use the school's facilities if they are impacted. Schools will remain closed for use by community groups until advised by the principal.

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Last updated 11 October 2021