Schools and early childhood education and care

Last Updated: 16 Sep 2022 8:38am

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Public Health has developed COVID-19 guidance for parents/carers, schools and early childhood education and care settings in Tasmania.

There are two outbreak management stages:

Stage 1: Prevent and prepare

Public Health has worked with the Department of Education, Catholic Education Tasmania, Independent Schools Tasmania and the Early Childhood Education and Care sector to develop and implement practical, workable measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimise the risk of outbreaks, while supporting ongoing education in classrooms.

These measures include:

  • Vaccination: Children aged 5+ years will continue to be encouraged to be vaccinated – vaccination is not mandatory for a child to attend school. All Department of Education staff, including volunteers and contractors, are vaccinated.
  • Ventilation: Air purifiers will continue to be used in classrooms, as well as use of open windows if cool climate allows.
  • Masks: must be worn by close contacts aged over 12, unless an exemption applies. Although not mandatory, mask wearing is strongly encouraged indoors and where you are unable to physically distance.
  • Outdoor learning: Schools will continue to take advantage of outdoor learning opportunities where possible, dependent on cool climate.
  • Physical distancing: All adults will continue to keep a physical distance of 1.5 metres from each other.
  • Hygiene practices: Regular handwashing and sanitising will continue.
  • Cleaning: Frequent cleaning will continue, particularly on high-touch surfaces.
  • Safe site management: Non-essential visitors will continue to be limited, and schools will regularly review their COVID-19 safety plans.
  • Groups: Mixing of students and staff will continue to be limited where required.
  • Providing rapid antigen test kits (RATs) so all children/students and staff can get tested immediately if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms (note, most self-administered RATs are not recommended for use in children under the age of two years). PCR is the preferred testing method where RAT is not suitable. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.

For more information visit the Department of Education website.

Stage 2: Responding to cases and outbreaks

Response to individual cases

  • The school will:
    • identify and notify school contacts
    • inform school contacts of the actions to take (typically in the absence of an outbreak this is to monitor themselves/their child for symptoms for the next seven days; and isolate and get tested if symptoms develop).
  • Families and staff must:
    • register positive RAT results
    • inform the school/early childhood education and care service if their child tests positive for COVID-19 on a RAT or PCR test
    • ensure that cases stay at home for their isolation period, and follow Public Health instructions
    • identify their close contacts and instruct them to follow the close contact rules
  • Learn about what close contacts need to do.

Close contacts in schools

If you are exposed to a COVID-19 case within a school or childcare you will not be classified as a close contact. If you are a student and have been exposed outside of the school and meet the close contact definition you may still attend school provided you:

  • have no symptoms
  • have returned a negative test result via RAT or PCR in the 24 hours prior.
  • wear a mask indoors (children aged under 12 years or those undertaking primary education are exempt from this requirement)

If you a teacher, employee or volunteer at a school and are a close contact you should follow the close contact requirements on this website, which include informing your workplace.

*The infectious period of a case is two days prior to developing symptoms, or two days prior to when they tested positive if they did not have symptom, until release from isolation.

Outbreaks in boarding schools

Public health may declare an outbreak in a boarding house if there are two or more cases identified within days of each other. Public health will work with the boarding school to provide advice about testing and management of the outbreak.

Unusual circumstances

Cases or outbreaks linked to schools or students with unique circumstances will be assessed on an individual basis by Public Health.