School camps during coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Guidance for providers and school groups

In line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Victorian Government has announced that regional schools can undertake school camps in regional areas when schools return to face-to-face learning in Term 4.

Camps will be limited to single schools from regional Victoria and can only take place outside metropolitan Melbourne. This follows Regional Victoria's progression to the Third Step of the roadmap for reopening, as of 11:59pm Wednesday 16 September.

This factsheet provides guidance to operators of school camps and participating school groups on health and safety measures recommended to manage risks associated with coronavirus
(COVID-19).

This guidance should be used in conjunction with the broader Health and safety advice for all Victorian schools for return to on-site schooling.

Bookings for school camps are not bound by public gathering limits.

Bookings for school groups can be accepted by:

  • accommodation providers, including privately operated school camps and outdoor education schools
  • camps operated by individual schools
  • government outdoor education, leadership and camp schools including the Residential Outdoor Schools Association (ROSA) Network and the Alpine School.

Providers can only accept bookings from single schools for the same time period.  

Students and staff who live in metropolitan Melbourne and work or study at a school in regional Victoria can attend off-site excursions and school camps.

School camp health and safety precautions

Consistent with the Health and safety advice for all Victorian schools, schools should pursue a variety of strategies to support physical distancing among all students and staff, where possible.

Staff must practise physical distancing between themselves and other staff members or adults and students wherever appropriate.

A mask provides protection when physical distance cannot be maintained.

All staff and students will be required to follow advice about the use of face masks as outlined in the Term 4 School Operations Guide (login required).

Creating student and staff camp 'bubbles', whereby student and staff groupings/cohorts are kept as static as possible with limited mixing of groups of student and staff groups, can minimise the risk of transmission between groups and aid containment in the event of a confirmed case.

To support this, large group activities should be avoided and use communal facilities should be staggered, with thorough cleaning after each group use.

Staff and students sharing a room will be considered a 'bubble' and will not need to wear face masks when in their room. Face masks should not be worn while sleeping due to the potential health risks.

Checklist for camp operators and schools

Schools are required to follow the Department's Excursions policy (including camps and adventure activities) from the Policy and Advisory Library; including the requirement for risk management planning.

Schools who are planning to or are participating in school camps should include this element of the program in their Safety Management Plan for COVID-19 (COVIDSafe Plan).

All staff and students will need current emergency contact details registered prior to departing for school camp. Permission forms will need to include updated information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and any procedures that will apply in the event of a child displaying COVID-like symptoms.

Where a staff member or a student is displaying COVID-like symptoms,  those who have been sharing sleeping quarters with the symptomatic individual should be isolated from the rest of the group and undertake separate activities until the outcome of a coronavirus (COVID-19) test is known.

Schools should be prepared to notify the Department when a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is linked to a school camp. Schools will need to provide requested information and take required actions. Good record-keeping, including accurate documentation of sleeping arrangements and any visitors, enables the prompt identification of individuals that may have been in contact with a confirmed case.

Schools and camp operators should consider the range of activities and facilities available and recognise that some facilities and activities may need to be altered, deferred or delivered remotely to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk. Decisions regarding the types of activities that take place should take account of the potential risk associated with the activity, the level of community transmission, and available modifications to minimise risk.

Camp operators should develop and regularly review their COVIDSafe Plan, to minimise the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. In the event of a confirmed case, they should be informed by the below principles and advice for Accommodation Providers from Business Victoria and in the Industry Restart Guidelines - Accommodation. These plans should be made available for schools to review prior to arrival on site.

Principles for health and safety

The following principles should be applied to school camps to ensure health and safety precautions are followed:

Confirmed cases and close contacts

Any staff member or student who have been advised to isolate as a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), or quarantine as a close contact of a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not under any circumstances attend school camp.

Staff and students should not attend camp if unwell.  Anyone who develops symptoms during camp should be isolated and sent home for testing as soon as possible, with designated space(s) made available on the premises to support isolation where required.

If a staff member or student is identified as a close contact of a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19), they will be sent home as soon as possible, with designated space(s) made available on the premises to support safe isolation.

Where staff or students become unwell or are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required. School camps should also have appropriate PPE available in case it is required by their staff, contractors or guests.

Hygiene, cleaning and shared areas

Reinforce hand hygiene practices and ensure access to handwashing facilities in all communal areas (where soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitiser should be provided).

Cleaning and disinfection of communal facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens should occur at least twice a day, or more frequently when in high use by the group – including enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

Minimise numbers in shared rooms/dormitories where possible.

Parent volunteers are permitted, subject to normal arrangements, where volunteers are an integral part of the conduct of school camps (for example, where necessary to ensure adequate supervision or to provide medical care).

Where relevant, ensure the highest hygiene practices amongst food handlers where these services are operating, as per the Department's Safe Food Handling policy.