Physical distancing, health and hygiene

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Wearing face mask in schools

Based on advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, everyone over the age of 12 must wear a face mask when they leave their home.

Face masks and going to school

If your child is aged 12 and over they'll need to wear a face mask. This includes going to and from school.

If you cannot get a face mask, your child’s school may be able to give one to you.

Some children do not have to wear a facing mask in school. This includes children who:

  • go to primary school for on-site supervision
  • are aged 12 by Year 6
  • have a medical condition such as problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition. This includes children who go to a specialist school.

School drop off and pick up

You must wear a face mask when you drop off or pick up your child.

More information about face masks

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website has advice about face masks, including:

  • different types that can be used
  • how to make your own
  • how to safely wear and safely remove them.

Children with medical needs

Children with complex medical needs should seek advice before returning to face-to-face learning

If your child has complex medical needs (including those with compromised immune systems) you are encouraged to talk to your medical practitioner to find out if your child can attend on-site schooling.

If your child cannot attend school for medical reasons

Schools will continue to support children who cannot attend for medical reasons with learning materials and guidance.

Remote learning will remain available for children with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.

Schools may need to work one-on-one with you to help manage your child's risk, and if or when your child returns to school. Extra measures, such as of additional hand sanitiser or providing hand hygiene reminders or assistance, may need to be put in place to support vulnerable children.

Supporting children with disabilities with personal care needs

Physical distancing is not always possible when providing direct care to a child.

When this happens, school staff will be need to wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after performing routine care and when interacting   with children in the classroom environment and make sure environmental cleaning where relevant.

Schools will make hand sanitiser available at school entrances and in classrooms where personal care needs are provided.

Staff will not need to use extra personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks. This is not required to give routine care for children who are well, unless such precautions are usually adopted in the routine care of an individual child. 

Physical distancing in schools

Safety of children mixing with each other

Evidence shows that transmission in the school environment is mainly from adult to adult and children are less likely to spread the virus. This is why the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) does not believe it is necessary for physical distancing between children, or limiting the number of children in one space, such as a classroom. Physical distancing between adults is recommended.

Schools will put plans in place to reduce close contact between adult members of the school community.

Reducing mixing between different groups of children is recommended as way to help contain, and reduce the spread of transmission in the rare event of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) on-site.

Schools can put plans in place around physical distancing for children, such as spacing out queues of children coming into classrooms or having different play times to avoid mixing between different year levels and classes.

Safety of staff and parents mixing with each other

The main risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school environment is between adults. Staff and parents will be need to practise physical distancing and avoid spending a long long time in close contact with other adults.

In schools where there is any risk of a too many people gathering at school entry and exit points, schools may introduce staggered drop off and pick up times.

You should enter the school grounds only when you have to. You will need to limit your time and practise physical distancing.

Health and hygiene

Medical certificates when returning to school

You will not need to provide a medical certificate for your child to attend an education setting.

No child should attend school if they are unwell

Anyone who is unwell should not attend school. This includes you or your child.

If your child goes to school while unwell, they will be sent home.

Checking temperatures

Based on guidance from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, all schools will start temperature screening of children while the stay at home restrictions are in place. This will support community awareness of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and help to identify children displaying symptoms.

Hygiene practices introduced at schools

School staff and children will be encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitiser will be used.

Hygiene practices suitable for different age groups will be encouraged. For younger children this includes:

  • teaching them how to wash hands properly and other hygiene habits
  • supervision of handwashing where possible to make sure children are doing it properly
  • making sure children wash their hands when they enter the school, regularly throughout the day and before and after eating.

Children will be asked to:

  • cough into their elbows or a tissue
  • put used tissues straight into the bin
  • avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths
  • not share food or drink
  • not use water fountains or bubblers directly
  • make sure they practice strict hygiene when preparing their food.

Cleaning supplies and hand sanitiser

We have been delivering hand sanitiser to all government schools and, where required, can help schools with access soap and other products.

School cleaning and use of facilities

Cleaning in schools

To make sure schools are as safe as possible, the Victorian Government will invest up to $45 million for enhanced cleaning that will occur every day at every government school across the state for all of Term 2 and Term 3.

This will help to reduce the spread of viruses and germs in schools and will include the cleaning of surfaces that are frequently touched, such as tables, door handles and toilets.

This will provide progressive cleaning of high-touch points and other surfaces throughout the day, requiring an additional six hours of cleaning per day (for an average-sized school).

Use of playground equipment and cleaning

Until further notice:

  • schools can make playground equipment available for children during school hours. However, children should practice hand hygiene before and after use
  • Community groups cannot use school facilities (indoor or outdoor).

Water fountains

Children should not drink directly from drinking fountains at this time. Taps may be used to refill water bottles.

Your child should bring their own water bottle to use, and refill, at school.

Changes to routine care or emergency first-aid

Staff will follow the schools standard precautions including hand hygiene when providing routine care or first-aid assistance to children. This includes when they need to come into physical contact with a child (for example: the use of gloves for nappy changing, assisting with toileting or feeding, attending to a cut or disposing of a child's tissue).