Year 12 students in New South Wales will return to face-to-face learning from 25 October as part of a staggered plan that will see HSC exams delayed until November.
The staggered return to school plan has been confirmed to take place over a period of three weeks from late October to early November.
By pushing back the NSW Higher School Certificate exam schedule, the education department has more time to ensure that teachers and other school staff can get their mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. The university application process will not be impacted by this change, education and early childhood learning minister Sarah Mitchell said.
“The classroom is where students learn best and I thank the entire community for playing their role in this return by getting vaccinated,” Mitchell said.
For the rest of Term 3, HSC students will be able to return to face-to-face learning in a limited way. On Monday 25 October, year 12 will then have full time access to their teachers in classrooms at school.
HSC exams will then commence on 9 November, with COVIDsafe guidelines concerning the examination process to be released next month.
The COVIDsafe return to school plan was outlined in a joint statement from NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mitchell, on Friday. The timetable coincides with ongoing ‘stay at home’ public health orders for greater Sydney and other affected parts of the state.
From Monday 25 October, kindergarten and year 1 students will be able to return to classrooms subject to COVID safe settings on school premises that have been approved by NSW health.
One week later, on 1 November, students in years 2, 6 and 11 will be able to return to face-to-face learning.
Finally, students in year 3-10 will be able to return to school on Monday 8 November.
The premier acknowledged the challenges that the NSW school community has faced over the past few months – various parts of Greater Sydney and the state have been subject to lockdown for nine weeks now. She said that the government’s plan to get children back in classrooms would be sensible and managed.
“The return to school plan provides parents, teachers and students with certainty and a path forward for the return to face-to-face learning,” Berejiklian said.
“We are deeply grateful to parents, teachers and students for the sacrifices you have made. Please continue to protect our students by getting vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Bookings for priority vaccination of early childhood education teachers in NSW will be available from 6 September, and the state government is urging teachers and staff members to seek an earlier dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the GP network if possible.
NSW Health will be administering priority vaccines for teachers at the Qudos Bank Arena from 6 September.
Being vaccinated against COVID-19 will be mandatory for all school staff across all sectors from 8 November.
The NSW government urged all eligible students and parents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The government also said that students in NSW aged 12-15 would be prioritised once they become eligible for a vaccine.