What school will look like in Term 3 in ACT and regional NSW

Karabar High School students Tim and Bas Landman have their masks ready for Term 3. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Karabar High School students Tim and Bas Landman have their masks ready for Term 3. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Students and teachers may have to add a mask to their school bag as Term 3 begins, depending on their age and whether they're in the ACT or over the border in NSW.

Here's the latest advice as students head back to school.

ACT schools

Staff and students within the ACT won't have to wear a mask on campus after the mask mandate lifted at midnight on Friday.

Any staff and students who have returned from Greater Sydney from 11.59pm Friday will have to quarantine at home for two weeks and will not be allowed to go to school.

The quarantine orders cover people returning from Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour.

Those who are under the previous stay-at-home orders will be allowed to go to school if they cannot work or study at home and if they wear a mask. Children 12 years and under are exempt from wearing masks.

An ACT Health spokeswoman said masks may be required in schools if the situation changes.

"This decision would be based on a number of factors including the number of cases in surrounding regions, level of community transmission and level of movement between areas with COVID-19 cases and the ACT.

"ACT Health carefully considers risk before implementing public health directions."

Face masks are encouraged on public transport and during off-site school excursions where physical distancing is not possible.

Regional NSW

Meanwhile, in regional NSW face masks will be recommended but not compulsory for all school staff and for students in Year 7 upwards in indoor settings.

Masks are mandatory on NSW public transport, meaning high-schoolers and teachers will need to wear a face covering on the bus to and from school or school excursions.

Camps, excursions outside the local government area and community events within school hours won't be allowed.

Non-essential visitors are not allowed on campus while parents and carers will have to stay off school grounds at pick up time. All schools are required to have QR check in codes.

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Director of Catholic Education in Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese Ross Fox said schools outside Greater Sydney were under stage two restrictions.

"It'll depend on the students and their families in the school as to the extent to which masks are worn," Mr Fox said.

"The overall observation is we're very, very fortunate that we've had no community seeding in the areas that we serve... and while that remains that's really welcome and means that the risks are very low at this time."

The Independent Education Union ACT/NSW secretary Mark Northam said the union welcomed the fact that members could wear a mask considering the highly infectious nature of the delta variant.

He was confident students in Year 7 and above would heed the health advice.

"In all likelihood I think students will step up to the mark. High schools students understand the gravity of the situation," Mr Northam said.

NSW Teachers' Federation deputy president Henry Rajendra said the health and safety of students and staff was paramount.

"We've got young people being diagnosed with that disease and we just have to make sure that we take every health precaution as advised seriously and to follow those guidelines," he said.

Karabar High School year 11 student Bas Landman said there were significant benefits to a mask mandate.

"It's a small inconvenience compared to what [COVID-19] can do," he said.

"You don't want to spread it to other people."

HSC changes

All Catholic school students doing the HSC have had their trial exams pushed back by two weeks because of the latest outbreak.

The NSW Education Standards Authority extended the deadline for schools to submit marks for the optional VET, English Studies and Maths Standard 1 exams from 10 September to 24 September.

The HSC final exams have not been delayed at this stage.

"We're very hopeful that they'll proceed as scheduled," Mr Fox said.

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This story What school will look like in Term 3 in ACT and regional NSW first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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