As the number of COVID-19 cases have risen around the state, we wanted to remind you of the policies surrounding testing and surveillance for COVID-19. The most important thing to remember is that if your son shows any symptoms of COVID-19, he is not to attend school, regardless of whether his PCR or rapid antigen test (RAT) is negative.
When do I need to get tested? Should I get a PCR or do a RAT at home?
In line with NSW Health advice, any student with a symptom of COVID-19 must get tested immediately.
Most people no longer need to get a PCR (nose and throat swab) test if they have COVID-19 symptoms, or are a household, social, workplace or education contact of a positive case.
However, students are still required to undertake a RAT. Anyone who tests positive with a RAT must register their test result with Service NSW, and self-isolate following the NSW Health guidelines for testing positive.
Please note: At this stage the Department of Health is not sending any more rapid antigen test kits home to students.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- fever (37.5 degrees celsius or higher)
- sore throat
- shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
- runny nose
- loss of taste
- loss of smell
Other reported symptoms include:
- acute blocked nose (congestion)
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- loss of appetite.
Any student who attends school with symptoms of COVID-19 including; fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath, will be sent home regardless of RAT or PCR results. The student must stay at home and not return to school until they are completely asymptomatic.
What does a student or staff member do if they test positive?
Any student or staff member who tests positive to COVID-19 is required to follow NSW Health requirements under the Public Health Order for testing positive and self-isolation.
Currently, the requirements are:
- isolate for 7 days following the positive test
- leave isolation after 7 days if no symptoms (sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath)
- if there are symptoms after 7 days, then remain in isolation until 24 hours after symptoms have resolved. Note: if a person continues to have symptoms, they are able to leave isolation after 7 days with a medical clearance.
Staff and students who return a positive RAT result must register it on the Service NSW app or service.nsw.gov.au website as soon as possible.
Staff and students who receive a positive PCR or RAT result must tell their school as soon as possible, and follow NSW Health advice.
What happens if a student is identified as a household/ close contact? Can they attend school during their isolation period?
No. A student is no longer able to attend school through the use of RAT if they are identified as a household/ close contact.
The exemption that was in place for students in 2021 under the Test to Stay Program was rescinded on 24 January 2022, and is no longer available, with immediate effect.
Students identified as household/ close contacts are required to complete the 7 day period of Isolation.
What if my son has had COVID-19 in the last 8 weeks?
If your son has had COVID-19 in the last 8 weeks, they can return to school as long as they are asymptomatic, provide a negative RAT result every day, and can provide proof of dates of isolation to the Health Centre via email to: email@example.com
Calling in sick on the absentee line
When you are calling in to report your son’s absence, please make it clear that you have undertaken a PCR or RAT test. As mentioned, students are not to be at school if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, however when they are asymptomatic, they can return.
What we need to know when you call:
- why your son is absent
- how long he will be absent
- whether or not he has tested for COVID-19 (and whether the test results are negative or positive).
Due to the large number of calls the Health Centre is receiving at the moment, I would prefer you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, queries or concerns.
Stay safe and stay healthy.
Ms Adele Cutbush