State sets safety rules for school return

Students will return to school on February 1 under “COVID-smart settings that will minimise the risk of the virus and allow teachers and pupils to return safely to the classroom,” according to the NSW Government.

As part of the new measures, every student and teacher in NSW government and non-government schools will be able to receive rapid antigen test (RAT) kits before school returns.

The measures include twice a week surveillance testing for primary and high school students, school staff and early childhood staff.

Surveillance testing will be undertaken for the first four weeks of term, with two weeks of supply distributed before term starts.

Mask wearing for all staff and high school students will be made mandatory, with masks encouraged for children in primary schools.

Interaction between year groups will be limited, with visitors to schools also curbed.

Natural and mechanical ventilation will be maximised, with “air purifiers dispatched to where they are needed”.

The NSW Government said contingency plans will be put in place to manage any disruptions to the workforce, including utilising retired and studying teachers.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said testing complements other COVID-smart measures in schools, including mandatory vaccination for staff, increased vaccination coverage for students, mask-wearing and cleaning.

“We have worked closely with the Victorian Government to create plans that achieve the same important goals of seeing our students learning in their classrooms safely and with minimal disruption,” Mitchell said.

Families will be notified by their schools on how and when to collect the RAT kits for their children.

 More information on the return to school settings for public schools is available at

Media release, Jan 23
NSW Government