The Department of Education have advised that face to face learning will continue during Term 3. Students with disability who have complex health needs will be supported by their school with individual learning plans, and if they need to learn from home they will be provided with a Learning Pack to complement online options. Parents and carers are encouraged to contact schools to discuss their child’s individual learning plan and medical plan (where appropriate).
Keeping COVID safe:
Schools are continuing with COVID-safe measures, such as:
– frequent cleaning and continued focus on regular handwashing and sanitising;
– physical distancing;
– children aged 5 and over will continue to be encouraged to be vaccinated, although this is not mandatory for them to attend school. Vaccination of all staff, volunteers and contractors will continue;
– continued use of air purifiers to enhance airflow in classrooms;
– use of outdoor learning areas where possible;
– limiting non-essential visitors in schools;
– testing for COVID-19 will continue, staff and students will have access to RATs at school if they have symptoms.
Face masks are no longer mandatory in schools and early childhood centres (as of 25 June 2022), however some may still require face masks to be worn based on their individual school or centre risk assessment.
Additionally, staff may at times wear P2/N95 masks and protective eye wear if working closely with a medically vulnerable child with learning or support, especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The Department recognises that some students with disability are not able to wear a mask, and plan in these cases to use physical distancing, reducing interaction between class groups and the wearing of face masks by others to lessen risk.
Close contacts vs school contacts
A close contact is someone who lives with a confirmed COVID-19 case, or has stayed in the same house overnight with them; or someone who has spent more than 24 hours in a residential setting with a confirmed case during the infectious period (usually 2 days prior to developing symptoms)
A school contact is anyone who has spent more than 4 hours in total in the same room at school during the case’s infectious period (this does not have to be 4 hours in a row).
Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases
Close contacts who are school students do not need to isolate, as long as they:
– have no symptoms themselves;
– tell the school they are a close contact;
– take a RAT every day and it is negative
– wear a mask when away from home in indoor settings (unless they have a mask exemption);
– stay away from high risk settings such as hospitals and aged care facilities;
– avoid contact with vulnerable, immunocompromised people or those with chronic medical conditions.
Students of support schools who are close contacts
Public Health has advised that although students of support schools are not mandated to avoid the support school during their close contact period, they are recommended not to attend. This is in order to avoid other people who may be at risk of severe disease, i.e. the other students.
In addition, if close contact students cannot adhere by the close contact requirements (daily RAT and mask wearing) then Public Health recommend they should not attend.
If your child attends a support school and you are not sure about the guidelines, contact the school for more information and support.
The Disability Emergency Operations Centre (DEOC) can also answer questions, and you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Positive COVID-19 cases and schools
The school would identify and notify any school contacts, and tell them what they need to do. Usually this means they monitor for symptoms for 7 days, and isolate and get tested if the develop symptoms.
If there are COVID-19 outbreaks at school, the school communicates directly with families, and Public Health also provide support. The Department of Education advise that for students with disability who have complex health needs,
Learning at home
Students with disability have the right to access and participate in education on the same basis as their peers. There are laws which protect these rights, and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 clarify the obligations of education providers so that students with disability can access and participate in education on the same basis as students without disability. See Get Started to find out more about these standards.
As a parent or carer of a student with disability, it is important that you are willing to work as part of a team with the school to achieve the best outcomes for the student. Having an open, constructive dialogue with your child’s school is very important, especially in challenging times. Schools are promising to work with families to ensure minimum disruption to education, and are often operating with staff shortages due to outbreaks. Parents and carers sometimes also struggle with learning at home, as they are not educators and may not have the time, energy and resources to do home education. Also, many children with disability find online learning unsuitable.
It is important to remember that learning at home is different from at school, and you are not expected to do what teachers do. Be mindful of your own energy and what capacity you have for doing home learning. Studies about remote learning have found that, in spite of the challenges it present to students and parents/carers, children mostly continue to progress with their learning. See Get Started for more information and helpful strategies on home learning and your child with disability.
Good communication with the school is important. Schools have released information about how the intend to support children’s learning during COVID. Take a look at the Supporting Students with Disability fact sheet and the Term 3 COVID-safe schools plan.
The Department of Education have a handy Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Carers page.
They also have a Department of Education COVID Support Hotline you can access by emailing COVID19support@education.tas.gov.au.
For more information about the rights of children with disability in the education system, see the Disability Standards for Education 2005 – Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government (dese.gov.au)
Remember, although it is strongly recommended children get vaccinated, it is not mandatory in order for them to attend school. For more information about vaccination take a look at our Finding Your Way article Getting the Vaccination
For information and strategies for home learning, isolation and quarantine take a look at this great article COVID-19, isolation & kids with disability | Raising Children Network
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and need help because you are too unwell to care for your child, emergency respite options are available by calling Carers Tas on 6144 3722.
Look after yourself as much as possible, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, remember to reach out to your network of supports. You can also speak with your GP, or call Lifeline on 131 114.
The Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service if a free service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, staffed by trained health professionals and you can call them on 1800 512 348.
For more services to support you if you are stressed, worried or alone, see the Department of Health’s Help and support for your mental wellbeing.
Here you can find a simple list of the best actions to take if you are interested in this topic:
Good communication with the school is important so that your child can get the best outcomes in education. Find out who your main contact at school is (class teacher, grade coordinator, etc). Let them know how you prefer to be communicated with – via email, phone call, text or via the school’s communication app.
If your child needs personal care at school or has to take medicines, it’s a good idea to talk with the school about how this can happen in a COVID-safe way.
If you do need to isolate with your child, try to keep to a daily routine. Schools may provide online learning options or other resources, but remember to just do your best as children generally do not lose much ground in their learning during these periods.
You can help your child adjust better to school routine after quarantine, isolation or illness by working with the school on strategies to make the transition easier.
If you are concerned about how your child is coping, speak with the homeroom teacher or grade coordinator. You can also talk to your GP. Your child can phone the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.