COVID shutdowns in Mountains schools in November

The Department of Education has confirmed four public schools were affected by COVID shutdowns in the month of November.

A Department spokesman confirmed from November through to the 29th, the following schools that became 'non operational' due to COVID-19 included:

  • Blaxland High School
  • Hazelbrook Public School
  • Katoomba North Public School
  • Lapstone Public School

The schools were closed for a day.

Meanwhile NSW Health said there has been 31 COVID-19 cases in the Blue Mountains local government area in the past four weeks to 8pm, November 25, from almost 20,000 COVID tests.

In October the Gazette ran a story about a Katoomba mum who started an e-petition to look after the health and safety of local children heading back to school after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Natalie Beak said the e-Petition to the NSW Parliament was to ensure adequate ventilation is installed and maintained in primary schools. Ms Beak, whose son, Archie, 7, attends Katoomba Public School, said the current COVID safety measures by the Department of Education - ensuring that windows and doors can be opened - was not sufficient.

She said Mountains schools were more susceptible to bushfire smoke and regular hazard reduction burns throughout summer, so opening windows and doors was not always possible. She added term 4 "has only been back a week and already nine NSW public schools had closed due to COVID".

COVID issues in schools remains an issue with four public schools suffering temporary closures in November due to the virus.

COVID issues in schools remains an issue with four public schools suffering temporary closures in November due to the virus.

The Education Department has said it had localised plans for safe use of their facilities, including ventilation, vaccinations, servicing and cleaning of air conditioning systems, outdoor teaching, use of masks, additional hygiene supplies and enhanced cleaning.

From December the impact schools have faced when notified of a positive case will be eased as the NSW Government announced new settings. From Monday, November 29, close contacts of COVID-19 cases at schools and outside school hours care services will no longer need to isolate. But students will be required to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being notified of exposure.

If the test is negative, they can return to school immediately, so long as they provide negative Rapid Antigen Home Test (RAHT) results for the next seven consecutive days.

Schools do not have to close while contact tracing occurs, as the enhanced cleaning in place has been deemed sufficient. The only exception will be if there are multiple cases in a school.

Further restrictions are set to ease on December 15, or when NSW reaches the 95 per cent double dose vaccination target.

The COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus was detected in the latest sewage data from Winmalee treatment plant. The NSW Sewage Surveillance Program tests untreated sewage for fragments of the virus at sewage treatment plant locations across NSW. NSW Health said an infected person can shed virus in their faeces even if they do not have any symptoms, and shedding can continue for several weeks after they are no longer infectious.

Residents can keep up to date on cases numbers using the interactive map https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/stats-nsw.aspx. and for information on school closures check the school Facebook pages and this useful link https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety