Update on education protocols for coronavirus

13 Mar 2020 media release

The Government has communicated new advice to education sites regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This includes that, in the event of a confirmed case at a school or early childhood services facility (including preschools and OSHC), the site will immediately be closed for a minimum of 24 hours.
It will only reopen on the advice of health experts and when it is safe to do so.

Closure will allow public health officials to identify and notify any close contacts and advise on isolation requirements. The site will also be subjected to a thorough clean.
Additionally, in response to current travel warnings, all international student excursions and work-related staff travel to countries excluding New Zealand have been put on hold until the end of Term 2. This will be reviewed as more information comes to hand. These decisions are based on the latest advice from SA Health and commonwealth agencies.
“This protocol is an essential measure to keep our education sites safe and slow the spread of coronavirus,” said Education Minster John Gardner.
“It is critically important that schools are prepared for when a child or staff member becomes ill.
“A minimum 24 hour closure allows public health officials to thoroughly assess and respond to the risks. It will also allow a deep clean to be carried out before we consider reopening the site.
“We understand that any closure will cause disruption to families, but it is absolutely vital that we follow the best advice of health officials.”
Chief Public Health Officer, Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier said the decision was essential.
“It is essential for public health that schools and early childhood services take prompt action when a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified at the facility,” said Assoc Prof Spurrier.
“An immediate closure provides the best chance of containment and allows the public health team to carry out the necessary work to identify close contacts who will need to remain at home for 14 days.”
Parents are also being asked to help contain the spread of the illness by keeping children who are unwell with respiratory illness at home until symptoms resolve.
“We are asking parents to keep sick children at home and we’re asking employers to be flexible and understanding,” said Minister Gardner.
“We know it can be difficult to arrange care or take time off work to care for a child, but in the current circumstances we need people to do everything they can for the health of the wider community.”
In line with Commonwealth advice, the current advice for parents, children and adults is:
• Any child, student or staff member who has travelled in or transited through mainland China, Iran, South Korea or Italy must self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the high risk country.
• Close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
• All returned travellers who develop symptoms (especially fever and cough) within 14 days of returning from anywhere overseas should seek testing for COVID-19, and self-isolate while awaiting test results.
• Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded from school/childcare/the workplace until they are medically cleared to return.
• Children, students and staff who have returned to Australia from anywhere else overseas and have no symptoms are able to return to school or work.