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covid19-restriction-checker: COVID-19 Restriction Checker

Education, schools and childcare – New South Wales

Updated on 16 September 2021, at 19:30 AET


Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong, and parts of regional New South Wales are in lockdown until the Monday after NSW passes the 70 per cent double vaccination target.

For more information, visit 'Lockdowns and outbreaks – New South Wales' in the healthdirect Restriction Checker.

Plan for return to onsite learning and HSC exams

There will be a staggered return of students to face-to-face learning in Greater Sydney and parts of regional NSW that are in lockdown.

From Monday 25 October 2021, Kindergarten and Year 1 students will return to the classroom. Year 12 students will return to the classroom in a full-time capacity.

From Monday 1 November 2021, Year 2, 6 and 11 students will return to the classroom.

From Monday 8 November 2021, Year 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 students will return to the classroom.

If LGAs or regions come out of lockdown before 25 October, all students living or learning in that area will return to learning from their school campus.

If cases in certain LGAs increase significantly, learning from home will resume for that LGA until case numbers drop.

From 8 November 2021:

  • The Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams will begin with a revised timetable. This delay will not disadvantage NSW students when applying for university. The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) will release COVID-19 safe HSC guidelines in early September.
  • School staff and high-school students must wear face masks at school — it’s recommended that primary-school students wear masks at school.
  • Vaccinations will be mandatory for school staff across all sectors.
  • All school and early childcare staff are encouraged to book their vaccination with their GP with whatever vaccine is available as soon as possible.
  • All students aged 12 to 15 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination — and are strongly encouraged to book an appointment.

Current schooling arrangements

Learning resumes at school campuses in regional areas of NSW that have emerged from lockdown. Level 3 COVIDSafe measures are in place.

For detail, visit

For a list of regional areas that have emerged from lockdown, go to ‘Lockdowns and outbreaks - New South Wales’ in the Restriction Checker.

In Greater Sydney and parts of regional NSW that remain in lockdown, parents and carers must keep children at home unless they can’t learn from home or be cared for at home.

Schools, childcare and outside-of-school-hours care are open for any child that absolutely needs it.

Parents and carers in the LGAs of concern in Greater Sydney are strongly encouraged to keep their children at home.

In the LGAs of concern, all exams and other education or professional development-related activities will be online — excluding the HSC. The government will provide further information on its education plan soon.

See Lockdowns and outbreaks – New South Wales for an up-to-date list of the LGAs and suburbs of concern.

All non–core curriculum-related activities aren’t allowed on site at school.

Boarding-school students should be sent home if possible.

Non-essential visitors aren’t permitted in schools.

HSC students

A flexible operating model for schools is in place to provide safe access for HSC students to their schools. Secondary schools are operating under an updated COVID safety plan, jointly developed by NSW Health and Education.

School assessments and trial exams will be completed at home across all schools.

HSC students living or learning in the LGAs of concern will not return to school yet.

HSC students from the LGAs of concern will also not return to school if they go to school outside those LGAs.

Parents and carers

Parents and carers must follow their school’s advice regarding changes to drop off and pick up, including staying in the car when dropping off and picking up children if safe to do so.

Parents should: 

  • maintain physical distancing by avoiding gathering outside of school gates
  • remain outside of school grounds — exceptions may apply regarding schools for specific purposes, vulnerable students or students with disability
  • follow mask-wearing requirements and sign in using the Service NSW QR code when entering the school

Early childhood education and childcare services

Early childhood education and care services — including family day care residences and venues — can operate.

However, there have been COVID-19 cases in early childhood education centres. Parents and carers across the state are strongly encouraged to keep their younger children at home — unless they can’t be cared for at home.

Families can travel outside their Local Government Area (LGA) to receive education and care if required, including in and out of lockdown areas.

Childcare workers and disability support workers, who live or work in the LGAs of concern, must have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 19 September 2021 to continue to work outside the LGA they live in from 20 September 2021. This is provided they have booked their appointment by the end of Wednesday 8 September 2021.

Parents and carers need to wear masks and follow public health order directions when picking up and dropping off children.

For services on school sites inside lockdown areas, families should not go past the school gates where possible, and services should consider how to support pick up and drop off from the gate.

Face masks

The following face mask requirements apply to schools that are operating under level 3 and level 4 restrictions, which is currently all schools across New South Wales.

All students in Year 7 and above must wear masks in all indoor and outdoor settings while at school.

All staff, including early childhood education and care staff, must wear masks in all indoor and outdoor settings while at school.

Some exemptions apply:

  • Staff don’t need to wear a mask if it affects a student’s ability to hear or engage with them, such as where students are hearing impaired.
  • Staff and students don’t need to wear a mask when they’re alone in an office or classroom.
  • Masks don’t need to be worn by a staff member or student who has a physical or mental health illness or condition — or disability — that makes wearing a mask unsuitable. For example, if the person has a skin condition, an intellectual disability, autism or trauma, they don’t have to wear a mask.

If you can’t wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, you must carry either:

  • a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider; or
  • a statutory declaration

Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.

For more information, go to

Childcare gap-fee waiver

Childcare centres in LGAs that are in lockdown can waive gap fees on the days that parents choose to keep their children at home. The gap fee is the difference between the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) the Government pays to a service and the remaining fee paid by the family.

This means that families will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for those days that their children are at home during the current stay at home period.

Service NSW COVID Safe check-in

The Service NSW COVID Safe check-in app is mandatory across most businesses, venues and events. See for more details.

If you don't have a smartphone, you can apply for COVID-19 check-in card at

COVID Safety plan

All businesses, venues and events must have a COVID Safety plan registered with Service NSW. Visit for more information.

For more information on restrictions in New South Wales, visit

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