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COVID-19 (coronavirus) update: advice on mass gatherings

16 March 2020

The Department for Education provided us with an update:
15 March 2020 at 4 pm

Dear principal/director

As you are aware, the Australian Government has advised that all organised, non-essential static mass gatherings attended by more than 500 people must be cancelled from Monday 16 March 2020.

While the announcement is very clear that schools will remain open, it would include activities such as concerts, formals, fairs, open days, assemblies etc. where they involve more than 500 people.

All preschool directors and school principals must review their event schedules and postpone any activities and events that meet this criteria.

In schools with more than 500 students and staff, principals should review internal school operations to consider:

  • staggered lunch breaks
  • postponing full school assemblies
  • postponing other large in-school student gatherings/events.

All preschools and schools, regardless of student numbers should:

  • critically examine the need to hold events and gatherings and consider postponing those that aren’t necessary
  • smaller events that are necessary should be complemented with extra attention to health and hygiene measures
  • cancel all visits to nursing homes and care facilities
  • review the need to host visitors for occasions, such as special person days and Harmony Day. The department is also reviewing arrangements for people visiting schools in normal support roles.

We’ll provide more information and advice on social distancing as it comes to hand from SA Health.

As we have already seen across the world, this situation is expected to continue for some time and as such, our preparations must be for both the short and medium term.

Every effort is being made to minimise disruption to student learning.

In the coming days we will provide information on preparations for continuation of student learning in the event students or teachers are required to self-isolate, and staff leave arrangements.

These directions are about supporting the effort to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19. Preschools and schools play a vital role in assisting our communities to contain the virus.

Personal hygiene and the hygiene standards in all preschools and schools are critical to reducing the risk of infection.

All children and staff must be encouraged to:

  • wash their hands regularly, particularly after using the toilet and before eating
  • avoid spreading infections to others by staying home if they are unwell
  • cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue or elbow

Resources and posters are available from SA Health and should be displayed prominently at your site.

All children, students and staff who are unwell with fever and/or respiratory infection should remain at home until symptoms resolve.

We’re working closely with SA Health and we will continue to follow their advice and guidelines. We will send through regular updates as they become available.

If you have any questions about managing coronavirus in the workplace, please call the department’s work health and safety team on 8226 1440 (8am to 5pm) or email education.WHS [at] sa.gov.au.

You can also call the government’s coronavirus health information line on 1800 020 080. The line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.