16 March 2020
I am writing as a courtesy ahead of the Ed-e-Mail to be sent to all staff tomorrow to further update you.
Today, Sunday 15 March, the Prime Minister introduced measures placed on international arrivals into Australia. This means a mandatory 14 day self-isolation requirement will be placed on all international arrivals into Australia effective from midnight.
From today, all international school excursions are banned.
The National Cabinet also endorses the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) today to introduce social distancing measures.
The Smartraveller level advice for all Australian’s travelling overseas has been upgraded to a level 3 – ‘reconsider your need for overseas travel’ at this time. In addition to this, some countries remain at a level 4 – ‘do not travel’.
Regardless of the destination, age or health of the traveller, if the overseas travel is not essential, the Australian Government has asked people reconsider.
International travel arrangements. The implications of the new 14 day self-isolating restrictions for all arrivals into Australia will be communicated as more information becomes available.
As you would be aware, the Australian Government has announced that all organised, non-essential mass gatherings attended by more than 500 people must be cancelled from Monday 16 March 2020.
The announcement was very clear this does not apply to schools, and that there is no need for school closures.
It does however include activities such as school balls, assemblies, concerts and the like where they involve more than 500 people.
I ask that all principals review their forward activity schedule to minimise the need for large gatherings and postpone any that meet these criteria until further notice. Please look at term 1 and term 2 events at this stage.
In schools with more than 500 students, I am asking you to cease full school assemblies, and arrange staggered lunch breaks where these don’t currently occur and reschedule other large in-school student gatherings and events.
Tomorrow, you will be provided with a framework to assist you to identify events that must be cancelled as a result of the mass gathering policy. There is also advice around static gathering. We are also asking you to take action regarding these. Generally speaking, a static mass gathering is where people are together in an area for a period of approximately two hours.
As our response to COVID-19 is all about containment, I want to thank principals for your extra attention to the health and hygiene measures employed across your school.
Your ongoing vigilance will support the effort to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19. Our schools play a vital role in this effort and I appreciate your continued support and attention to actions that will support this containment effort.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, please continue your contingency planning for operations. Plans for the continuity of learning and teaching are also essential and we will provide you with resources to assist with curriculum delivery to minimise disruption to student learning. Our priority is to support year 11 and 12 students. In doing so we will ramp up teaching and learning services, and print hard copy resources to assist schools who may not have online access.
As we have already seen across the world, this situation is likely to continue for some time and is evolving and as such, our preparations must be for the short, medium and long term.
I understand you will all have lots of questions and concerns and in particular nuanced enquiries about your particular school and situation.
Thank you for your vigilance in minimising the risk to your students, staff and communities during this time and for your leadership in this situation.
This is the situation as it stands, based on current advice and we will continue to keep you informed.