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.
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