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Queensland COVID planning framework

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​​​Where Queensland state schools are located in an area with a current lockdown, they will operate at response level 3.

In a restricted area not under lockdown, schools will operate at response level 2.

In locations where there are no COVID-19 restrictions in place, schools will operate at response level 1.​

For the latest information on restrictions, contact tracing alerts – sites of exposure, and testing centres, please visit the Queensland Government's COVID-19 website.

The Queensland COVID planning framework applies to all Queensland state schools and provides a guide for actions required by the Department of Education's tiered COVID-19 response level. It informs principal decision making regarding the measures to be implemented at their school, recognising that different schools or communities may be at different response levels at any point in time.

This framework will be updated as required to align with the latest health advice. Printed copies are uncontrolled and may not reflect current advice.

Additional information

The following information supports decision-making using the Queensland COVID planning framework.

On this page

Standard hygiene measures

Schools must maintain appropriate health and hygiene measures, including:

  • staff, students or visitors must not attend school sites if sick
  • regular hand washing and hand sanitising, particularly before and after eating, and after going to the toilet, as outlined in this instructional video.
  • increased cleaning of school facilities, particularly high-frequency touch points such as water fountains or bubblers
  • regular cleaning of playground equipment and play materials
  • physical distancing of adults.

Staff should continue to:

  • avoid sharing small office spaces
  • adhere to physical distancing of at least 1.5m including in staff rooms and other shared spaces
  • open windows to promote air flow where environmental conditions, such as cold weather, allow.

Confirmed case management

Queensland Health's Public Health Unit will directly contact a school to confirm the presence of a confirmed COVID-19 case and will advise of any additional measures such as quarantine or contact tracing. Schools should continue to report confirmed COVID-19 cases through existing reporting channels. In line with usual departmental protocols and in accordance with health advice, schools may need to close for a short time in the event of a confirmed case.​ This time will be used to support contact tracing and specialist cleaning as required.

Face masks

Please check the current COVID-19 restrictions on the Queensland Government's COVID-19 website as they may include a requirement to wear face masks in certain locations. This advice may change frequently.

Face masks can be a useful measure to help control community transmission of COVID-19 and adults are encouraged to wear face masks in schools when physical distancing cannot be maintained, even when there are no restrictions in place.

When to wear a face mask in schools

During restrictions

The following advice applies when COVID-19 restrictions are in place that include the wearing of face masks.

  • Adults, including volunteers and family members, are required to wear a face mask if they cannot maintain physical distancing, however school staff are not required to wear a face mask when working with children.
  • Face masks are not required where the nature of a person's work means that clear visibility of the mouth is essential.
  • Students are not required to wear a face mask when on school premises or when travelling on dedicated school transport.

There are some exceptions for the requirements to wear a mask. Visit the Queensland Health website for more information.

When restrictions are not in place

When there is no requirement to wear face masks (due to COVID-19 restrictions), school staff wanting to wear a face mask at work should consult with their principal/manager. This request will be supported however in certain circumstances masks may not be able to be worn for example, where the nature of a person's work means that clear visibility of the mouth is essential.

Discussions regarding an employee's request to wear a face mask while at work will need to consider an employee's duties and:

  • appropriateness and style of face mask considering year level and student cohort
  • any reasonable adjustments required in the workplace
  • any communication required with the school community (e.g. to students, parents and other staff).

There are some exceptions to the requirements to wear a mask. Visit the Queensland Health website for more information.

Students

Planning for teaching and learning

As is standard practice, teachers should consider the specific learning needs of students and plan for differentiated teaching and learning aligned to the Australian Curriculum.

Guidelines to support schools are: the P–12 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework (PDF, 4.5MB), and supporting documents including Assessment and moderation in Prep to Year 10 and A whole-school approach to differentiated teaching and learning.

Academic reporting

For academic reporting, schools will make reporting decisions based on what has been taught and assessed. The requirements for academic reporting are set out in the reporting to parents section of t​he P–12 curriculum assessment and reporting framework.

Advice from the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA)

The QCAA will publish updates regarding curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment and reporting as required.

Circumstances in which students should be supported to learn at home

During response level 1 ('COVID-normal') scenarios, attending school in person is the default model of learning. Schools are not required to provide home-based learning options unless there are specific circumstances justifying the student's absence.

Students unable to attend school or participate in the learning program due to medical reasons should be supported by their school, just as they would in the case of any extended student medical absence. The appropriate approach can be determined by the school, taking into account the expected duration of absence, the student's learning needs, available tools and resources, and the school's established approach to supporting continuity of learning.

The learning@home website will remain live.

Attendance and roll marking

Where medical advice supports the need for a student to remain at home or be absent from the learning program, schools should continue to use Code F.

Same day student absence notification requirements remain in effect through all response levels. Schools should notify parents or carers of an unexplained absence of their child as soon as practicable on the day of the student's absence, allowing time for parents to respond prior to the end of that school day.

Student protection

At all times and under all response levels, including where a student is learning from home, any concerns of risk of harm to the student should be addressed in line with the department's student protection procedures. All student protection measures and training for staff and visitors must be maintained at all times.

Staff

Principals and leadership teams should support and manage arrangements for vulnerable employees, with any arrangements reviewed monthly. The vulnerable worker assessment form (DOCX, 364KB) should be completed for any vulnerable employees who wish to voluntarily return to work.

Staff working from home are required to develop a work plan (DOCX, 49KB) with their supervisor that outlines their responsibilities and duties. Staff hours of work will be consistent with the attendance arrangements already in place at each school and determined in accordance with the school's local arrangements and industrial agreements.

Schools will need to make alternative arrangements and/or engage additional staff using school funds to support teaching and learning across the school including the classes of vulnerable workers who are not able to attend work.

University preservice teachers

Preservice teachers are welcome on all school sites and are to be considered in the same way as staff. It is important that preservice teachers can continue their practical placements during all phases of school operations.

Visitors on school sites

Parents

Parents and carers are welcome on school sites. Parents' and carers' contact details are recorded in OneSchool and can be used for contact tracing by Queensland Health if needed.

All other visitors need to adhere to school visitor and sign in arrangements.

COVID safe health practices apply to all adults on school sites. These include physical distancing between adults, not exceeding occupant density limits for rooms, staying home if sick and regular COVID-safe hygiene measures.

Schools should encourage adults to avoid congregating in or around the school, in the car park, at drop off and pick up, outside classrooms or at the school gate.

Contractors and external workers

At response levels 1, 2 and 3, schools will need to ensure any contractor, supplier or external support worker entering the school to undertake work or provide supplies complies with the on-site health and safety measures outlined in these guidelines. This includes not attending the site if unwell, maintaining physical distancing requirements and practising good health and hygiene.

Other visitors

Visitors are only allowed on site at response levels 1 and 2. Principals and responsible officers will make the decision about whether visitors are permitted on site while maintaining physical distancing.

To enable contact tracing if required, schools must maintain a record of visitors, including volunteers, visiting departmental staff and contractors. This must record each visitor's full name, email address, contact telephone number, date and time of visit. Schools are not required to maintain a record of all parents who enter the school.

School activities

Excursions and camps

At response levels 3 and 4, excursions and camps are not permitted to be held at Department of Education Outdoor and Environmental Education Centres (O&EEC) or at locations o​r businesses that ​are using a COVID Safe Checklist. O&EECs with residential facilities are required to use a COVID Safe event checklist​.

It is recommended that schools insert the following clause to the consent section of their activity consent form (DOCX, 119KB):

  • I give consent for my child's name to be given to businesses visited during this activity in compliance with the Queensland Chief Health Officer's directions.

If a student's parent/carer does not provide consent via the activity consent form, or by other means that will allow the school and venue to comply with a COVID Safe Checklist, the student will be unable to participate.

Excursion/camp risk assessments must be undertaken prior to approval and must take into account approved COVID-19 control measures.​

Instrumental music programs, ensembles and choirs

At response levels 1 and 2, instrumental music programs, ensembles and choirs are able to rehearse and perform in the school environment provided COVID safe protocols are followed.

  • External venue performances and rehearsals (including inter-school performances and rehearsals) can also be undertaken where a COVID Safe event checklist​ is completed by the venue or school.

Instrumental music programs, ensembles and choirs are not permitted to rehearse or perform in the school environment or at an external venue in response levels 3 or 4.

School sports

Schools are able to conduct intra-school, inter-school and representative school sport programs for both indoor and outdoor sports (including contact sports).

All sporting training and events not occurring on school grounds must be conducted in accordance with a COVID Safe event checklist​.

All attendees (e.g. officials, players and spectators) will be required to adhere to COVID registration arrangements as specified by the event host to enable contact tracing if required. This must record each visitor's full name, email address, contact telephone number, date and time of visit.

Shared equipment

Shared equipment such as practical workshop resources, musical instruments and sports equipment used within the school, or equipment loaned to students to take home, such as books, will require appropriate cleaning and hygiene management as outlined in the COVID-19 cleaning of equipment for practical subjects (PDF, 272KB).

The loan of equipment other than books must be considered and assessed by each school on a case-by-case basis. It is recommended that these items are loaned on a long-term basis.

School functions

At response levels 1 and 2​, schools can hold functions as normal, so long as:

  • on-site, physical distancing of 1.5 metres is maintained between adults
  • off-site, a COVID Safe event checklist is completed by the venue or school.

School functions must not be held in response levels 3 or 4.

Contact tracing for school events

Check In Qld app

At onsite events including formals and sporting events, the Check In Qld app can be used to record attendance for contact tracing purposes.

Schools will need to register as a business well in advance of the event and display the provided posters in multiple accessible locations at the venue.

Sign on sheets

Where schools and regions are recording parent/spectator contact information via sign-on sheets, the following privacy statement must be included on the sign-on sheet:

Parents/spectators will be asked to view the statement on the sign-on sheet; there is no need for a document to be signed.

The Department of Education is collecting personal information of parents of state school and non-state school students, and any other persons in attendance, in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles prescribed under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld), in order to record the details of parents and any other persons attending events controlled or operated by the department, to enable the department to comply with its obligations under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) and Disaster Management Act 2003 (Qld). This information will only be accessed by authorised staff within the department. Your personal information will not be given to any other person or agency without your permission or where we are required by law.

External venues

For events being hosted by an external venue, a record should be kept of which students and staff were in attendance. The venue must record the details of spectators, however, there is no requirement for the department or schools to record these details​.

Any questions or queries can be directed to the Privacy mailbox at privacy@qed.qld.gov.au.

Boarding school facilities

Further information regarding the operation of state school-operated boarding facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic is available in the guidelines for state school-operated boarding facilities (PDF, 464KB).

Information regarding the operation of non-state boarding schools should be obtained from the individual boarding school.

Cash handling

It is strongly recommended that payments for school services and activities (such as tuckshops, uniforms shops, excursions or other service or purchase​) be via electronic means.

After engaging in any transaction involving the handling of cash, staff are to practise good hand hygiene, washing their hands or using hand sanitiser as soon as possible.

Although the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is low, Queensland Health advise that limiting the handling of cash is one way to minimise the risk of infection to staff and volunteers.

Cleaning

Additional cleaning is to be implemented until further notice. School cleaning should prioritise frequently used areas with extra attention on high frequency touch point surfaces such as door handles, light switches, desks, toilets, taps and sinks. This should also include sick rooms and student service areas.

Emergency management

At response level 2, as part of each school's Emergency Response Plan (ERP), alternative assembly points should be considered and physical distancing requirements for adults should be observed in evacuation drill planning. All emergency drills should be entered into MyHR Workplace Health and Safety.

Health support procedures

All state schools, including special schools, must continue to implement student health plans and ensure student health support procedures are enacted at all response levels.

Employees must use gloves at all times, at any response level, when providing student health supports. Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required for certain health procedures.

For advice regarding the PPE required for a specific health support procedure, including the type of PPE and its correct use, please consult with your State Schools registered nurse. More information is available on the hygiene and personal protective equipment for health support procedure (DOCX, 875KB).

Hygiene supplies

Schools should actively monitor cleaning and hygiene supplies and reorder in advance of needing additional materials. If schools are having difficulty obtaining cleaning chemicals, hygiene products (such as soap and sanitiser) or PPE (required to perform specialised health procedures), please contact Procurement Services on 1300 366 612 or by emailing Procurement.OCPO@qed.qld.gov.au.

School transport

Transport arrangements for students, including specialist school transport for students with disability, will continue to operate.

School students are exempt from physical distancing and QR code check in requirements when ​travelling on dedicated school transport services, i.e. services where only school students travel (including activities related to outside school hours care and travel for inter-school sport, excursions and camps).

Where restrictions are imposed on certain areas (i.e. a hotspot has been declared), parents, volunteers or drivers who are not a school staff member, may be required to wear a face mask on dedicated school transport services.

Physical distancing should be mainta​ined at bus interchange locations, at pick-up and drop-off, and on other shared transport services.

Transport operators will ensure buses and surface touch points are cleaned according to COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection recommendations.

Use of school facilities and amenities

Principals may negotiate the use of their facilities for external users if the external user has met the requirements of the relevant Queensland Health approved COVID safe checklist for restricted businesses​ (PDF, 486KB)​.

As the facility owner, the principal should be involved in the assessment process and be provided with a signed Statement of Compliance.

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Last updated 15 July 2021