NSW Education - 2ST

Major COVID rule changes for NSW schools

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Despite hundreds of schools across NSW including a handful in the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands having confirmed COVID cases in recent weeks and kids under 12 not eligible for vaccination, from Monday schools will no longer close if there's a positive case and close contacts won't have to isolate.

The NSW Government said from November 29, students who are close contacts of a positive case will be required to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of exposure.

If the PCR test is negative, the student may return to school immediately, so long as they provide negative Rapid Antigen Home Test (RAHT) results for the next seven consecutive days.

In line with community settings, schools will no longer need to close while contact tracing occurs due to successful cohorting of year groups on school sites.

The only exception would be if there are multiple cases at a school or complex settings in place.

NSW Health has also advised that schools do not need to close for deep environmental cleans as the enhanced cleaning in place at schools is sufficient.

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Mask rules remain the same, meaning they are required for all staff and high school students, and are recommended for primary school students.

From Monday, restrictions on music will also been lifted, with instruments that rely on breath and singing and chanting allowed outdoors, within cohorts, and in line with other COVID-safe school settings.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said students already in isolation can return to school from Monday under the new approach.

"I'm delighted we can reduce the disruption for students and families, while still maintaining the safety measures for students and staff on school sites," Mitchell said.

The government said the changes were made following recent Doherty Institute and NSW Health advice.

Images: NSW Department of Education Facebook and pixabay / educadormarcossv

Nowra students rise to the challenge of reusing clothes and protecting dignity

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Nowra Public School students have shown they can think outside the box, and their creative minds have earned them a place in the state finals of the Game Changer Challenge.

The school's Eco Minions team was challenged to transform discarded items into something useful, and came up with the idea of turning used clothes into feeding bibs for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Team member Blake Holbrow said using recycled clothes helped people retain their dignity.

"It was for the disabled and the elderly, just to cover them up because the business name that we came up with was covered apparel, and we used old clothing to create these bibs so that if they spill food or drink it wouldn't ruin their clothes and they wouldn't have to walk around with food all over them," he said.

"We got an old button-up shirt, and we decided to cut the back out of it so you could slip your two arms through the arm holes, then we had a velcro collar around the back so you could just stick it on, sticks it off  - so if you were sitting in front of them it just looked like they were wearing that button-up shirt."

After the students made a prototype and had Blake model it, the idea was enough to have the team of five students crowned champions of the Regional South area virtual heat.

Now the students will tackle a sustainability challenge in December in the Game Changer ultimate final.

Teacher Bec Christensen said she was proud of the students and their efforts to reach the final eight out of the 396 entries submitted.

"They're amazing," she said.

"I'm super proud of them, it's massive for them and it's a nice thing for our local school and local area to be recognised across the state."

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said The Game Changer Challenge encouraged students to develop critical and reflective thinking skills while collaborating in a team. 

“This challenge is all about design thinking and future-focused skills that will push students to become creative problem solvers,” Ms Mitchell said.   

“Students will learn empathy while understanding how to find solutions for problems that can help change the world in big and small ways.” 

Image: Nowra Public School

NSW high school leavers given green light to attend formals

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Year 12 students across the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands will be able to attend their end-of-year school celebration following a year of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard has this morning granted an exemption to enable all HSC students in NSW to attend their school's Year 12 formal, dinner, or graduation, regardless of their vaccination status.

"The HSC students of 2021 have had an incredibly tough 18 months, including substantial time without face-to-face teaching, and missing out on seeing friends and family.

"They deserve to be able to party with their friends and enjoy one of the biggest celebrations of their life," Hazzard said.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the exemption gives all Year 12 students an opportunity to celebrate with their friends after their exams.

"I am so happy that all Year 12 students can celebrate with each other at the end of an incredibly turbulent year.

"Our Year 12 students have worked so hard and I want to commend them for the resilience they have displayed," she said.

The exemption means Year 12 students who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to celebrate with the rest of their cohort if they abide by the public health requirements of the venue they're attending.

The HSC written exams end on December 3 with students set to receive their ATAR on January 20 and results on January 24.

Image: PxHere / Leica M