Coronavirus (COVID-19) WA Education Position and Update 15 - 6 April 2020 (Updates in Purple)
This page will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Additional updates will be provided as required. The Department is working closely with the Department
This page will be updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Additional updates will be provided as required.
The Department is working closely with the Department of Health, particularly Dr Andrew Robertson, the WA Chief Health Officer. We will continue to follow their expert advice.
On 26 March the State Government announced all public schools in Western Australia will remain open until the end of term, Thursday 9 April. In the final two weeks schools will operate differently from usual. From Monday 30 March to Friday 3 April all children who attend school will be taught as normal. The following week (6 – 9 April) teachers will prepare teaching programs for Term 2 and during this time students who attend school will be supervised.
The Minister for Education and Training reiterated that continuity of education for as long as possible is best, but families are now encouraged to keep their children at home.
Learning programs for final week of Term 1
- Coordinated learning programs cease on Friday 3 April for students.
- From 6 – 9 April students attending school will be supervised but will not be provided with an individualised learning program.
- Schools are not expected to provide work for students who are not in attendance for the balance of Term 1.
New border controls – international and interstate travel
All non-essential travel in and out of Western Australia will be banned from 1.30pm on Tuesday, 24 March, 2020.
- Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate by road, rail, air and sea will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.
- Exemptions will apply to essential services and essential workers, including health and emergency services, defence and policing, mining industry workforces, flight crews and freight of essential goods, via ports and trucks – with strict guidelines in place to monitor and manage this.
- There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds and where people live near border communities.
The Smartraveller level advice for all Australian’s travelling overseas has been upgraded to a level 4 – ‘do not travel overseas at this time’. This is the highest level of advice (level 4 of 4).
WA regional travel
On 27 March 2020 the State Government announced that travel between Western Australian regions will be restricted from 11:59pm Tuesday 31 March 2020. From this time, all intrastate travel must cease and Western Australians must stay within their regional boundaries.
Some exemptions apply, including:
- travel for work purposes
- to attend medical appointments
- to transport freight
- those who do not have access to groceries or supplies within their region
- returning to a place of residence
- where necessary to attend school or an educational institution
- caring for family members
- approved compassionate grounds.
The Department will provide confirmation of employment at particular schools. If staff are travelling for reasons under the exemptions, they are advised to travel with evidence that can be shown on request to WA Police at boundary crossings.
The State Government urges all Western Australians to remain calm, and take the time to ensure they understand the new restrictions, and the exemptions.
General details, including the exemptions that apply and the regional boundaries, are available on https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-travel-and-transport-advice.
In addition, effective from 11.59pm on Sunday April 5, people will no longer be able to enter Western Australia without an exemption. Read the media release for more information.
Student Wellbeing website
Given the extensive media coverage, some children are already aware of the impact of the virus and will pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others. This could be through listening and observing what is happening online, at home and school.
The Learning at home https://www.education.wa.edu.au/learning-at-home/learning-resources-by-year-level website provides advice and resources for parents and carers, educators and students. This includes a wide range of resources and information related to the impact of COVID-19 on students’ health and wellbeing and the impact on families. It also includes vital information for schools to understand how they can best support students and families to access services and information. The website will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.
Parents are advised that, if they need urgent mental health advice and support for themselves or their child, there is a 24 hour crisis support line 1800 048 636.
Coronavirus (COVID_19) for Aboriginal people resource
Healthy WA have published a website containing information and resources for Aboriginal people.
Attendance at school
The State Government recognises there will still be families who need to send their children to school to continue their learning prior to the end of term. These may include:
- children of parents and carers who need their children to attend school to maintain employment
- children who live in families with aged relatives
- children where it is safer for them to be at school.
Who cannot attend school
Students or staff cannot attend school and need to self-isolate if they have:
- returned from overseas travel, they must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return to Australia
- returned from interstate travel, from 1.30pm on Tuesday 24 March, they must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return to Western Australia
- been informed by public health authorities that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case and they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case
- been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results should follow the advice of the Department of Health and stay away from school.
The above also applies to all parents/carers, contractors, visitors and volunteers on school sites.
Parents/carers should notify their school if the student will be away for the isolation period and confirm the date in which they were last overseas, or have been advised by the Department of Health to isolate.
BYO water bottles
As per advice received from the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), it is preferable that students bring their own individual water bottles that can be filled from the fountain as necessary. This will reduce the need for students to drink directly from fountains. All students should be instructed on safe usage of water fountains e.g. not putting their mouth onto equipment. The water fountains should be regularly cleaned and checked that they are working correctly with good pressure.
Front line services and mass gatherings
On Wednesday, 18 March the Australian Government announced that all organised, non-essential mass gatherings attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and more than 500 people for outdoors events must be cancelled from Wednesday 18 March 2020.
On Friday, 20 March the Australian Government announced further measures relating to gatherings of fewer than 100 people in an enclosed space. The Government is now recommending four square metres per person. This does not apply to schools.
Please refer to Healthy WA for more information on the Prime Minister’s announcement.
The announcement was very clear that there is no need for school closures. However, schools should now review their schedule of activities.
Will my school close if there is a confirmed staff or student case?
If a WA school has to close due to a confirmed case, it will be on advice from the WA Health Department’s Chief Health Officer.
Hand sanitiser recipe
The World Health Organisation published on their website how to make your own hand sanitiser. Please keep in mind the following OH&S guidelines:
- To avoid contamination with spore-forming organisms, disposable bottles should preferably be used.
- To prevent evaporation, containers should have a maximum capacity of 500 ml.
- The production or re-filling unit should follow norms on how to clean and disinfect the bottles (e.g. autoclaving, boiling, or chemical disinfection with chlorine). Autoclaving is considered the most suitable procedure.
- Reusable bottles should never be refilled until they have been completely emptied and then cleansed and disinfected.
- Bottles should be thoroughly washed with detergent and tap water to eliminate any residual liquid. If they are heat-resistant, bottles should be thermally disinfected by boiling in water.
- Production and storage facilities should be ideally air-conditioned or cool rooms. Open flames and smoking must be strictly prohibited in production and storage areas.
- While sterile distilled water is preferred for making the formulations, boiled and cooled tap water may also be used as long as it is free of visible particles.
Further reading and safety advice can be sought from the WHO guidelines.
Hygiene and cleaning
Cleaning guidelines have been developed based on advice from the WA Department of Health, in consultation with the United Worker’s Union.
These guidelines are being followed by all staff undertaking cleaning duties in schools and other workplaces.
How can I protect myself and others against COVID-19?
- Frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand gel
- Refraining from touching mouth and nose
- If coughing or sneezing, covering your nose and mouth with a paper tissue or flexed elbow.
- Dispose of the tissue immediately after use and perform hand hygiene and
- Avoiding close contact with anyone if you, or they, have a cold or flu-like symptoms (maintain a distance of at least 1 metre).
How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:
- direct close contact with a person while they are infectious;
- close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes; or
- touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
Most infections are only transmitted by people when they have symptoms. These can include fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness and shortness of breath.
Preventing the spread of COVID-19
There are practical and proportionate steps that can be taken to prepare in advance of COVID-19 and precautions that can be put in place to slow its transmission.
The Department of Health promotes regular and thorough hand-washing through:
- putting alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) dispensers in prominent places around schools/workplaces and make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled;
- displaying posters promoting hand-washing, see https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
- combining this with other communication measures such as offering guidance from occupational health and safety officers, briefings at meetings and information to promote hand-washing;
- making sure that staff, contractors and students have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water;
- ensuring rubbish bins are accessible; and
- ensuring staff have access to cleaning and disinfectant agents to enable cleaning of staff facilities and work stations.
Staff and students should:
- wash hands with soap and running water when hands are visibly dirty;
- wash hands with soap and water and use alcohol based hand rub (ABHR), before and after eating or prior to food preparation;
- wash hands with soap and water after going to the toilet;
- avoid using handkerchiefs;
- cough and sneeze with a tissue or bent elbow, dispose of used tissues immediately, and use ABHR or soap and water;
- avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose;
• wash hands with soap and water or ABHR when caring for the sick;
- if unwell, avoid contact with others;
- make sure workplaces are clean and hygienic, surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly; and
- wash hands or use ABHR after handling animals or animal waste.
Cleaning and Sanitising products
A supply of soap or another cleansing agent must be available in all schools and students should be given developmentally appropriate instruction for effective hand washing.
WA Health does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public to prevent the risk of contracting COVID-19. See the Australian Government fact sheet ‘Information on the use of surgical masks’ for further information, available at: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/novel-coronavirus-COVID-19-information-on-theuse-of-surgical-masks
Most people infected with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and recover. However, some go on to experience more serious illness and may require hospital care. Risk of serious illness rises with age: people over 40 seem to be more vulnerable than those under 40. People with weakened immune systems and people with conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung disease are also more vulnerable to serious illness.
People with COVID-19 may experience:
- flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue; or
- shortness of breath.
Support and advice
Further information is available at www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/coronavirus or the healthdirect helpline on 1800 020 080 for more information on the virus and its symptoms.
- Information for parents and schools
- Information for employees
- Advice for schools about self-isolation requirements
The WA education coronavirus support centre has been established to provide coordinated support across Department of Education, Catholic Education Western Australia, and Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia.
The Department of Education, Catholic Education Western Australia, and the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia will continue to respond as a collaborative team to advice from the WA Department of Health and provide updated advice to schools and staff as appropriate.
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