Sydney High School Closed Over Coronavirus Case Will Reopen On Monday
Staff and students at a high school in Sydney's north-west will be allowed to return next week after the school was shut on Friday following confirmation a Year 11 student had tested positive for coronavirus.
Epping Boys High School released a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday afternoon saying the school would "resume operations" on Monday.
However, students and staff who have been identified as close contacts of the 16-year-old student who tested positive on Thursday, have been told to self-isolate for the next 14 days and not return to school until that time has elapsed.
"The school will be thoroughly cleaned ready for school to resume on Monday for all other students," the statement also said.
"The school will be vigilant in implementing the department’s infection control procedures including daily cleaning in accordance with normal protocols, the promotion of healthy hygiene habits and will make hand sanitiser available for staff and students to use while at school."
Anyone who becomes unwell while at school will also be sent home and asked to remain away until they are well again, the school added.
Local MP Victor Dominello also confirmed the school would reopen on Monday, adding that it would be "thoroughly cleaned" before staff and students would be allowed to return.
"The NSW Department of Education and NSW Health are working closely to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff is maintained," Dominello said.
Education Looking At Creating 'Virtual Classrooms'
It comes as the NSW Education Department revealed it was working to create 'virtual classrooms' which would allow students forced to stay home during a school shut down to still be able to access learning.
"We might have a circumstance during coronavirus where students and teachers are required to be at home but they are still fit and healthy and ready to learn and ready to teach," Secretary of Education in NSW Mark Scott said on Saturday.
"So we want to set up an environment where the technology is available so lessons and learning can continue to take place while students are at home."
Scott said the department was working with the state's 'distance learning' provider -- which already supports students from remote and rural areas every day -- to expand the technology across the state.
He said the technology was sophisticated enough to even create 'virtual school assemblies' with students logging in at home.
"We are looking at ways to extend that capacity so students who are required to be at home during a coronavirus shut down can keep on their learning."
Scott said the priority would be for Year 12 students across the state ahead of their HSC exams, adding the department was also looking at rolling out extra devices such as laptops and iPads that could be supplied to students where needed.
But the main message for students and staff remains to stay at home if they are feeling sick or unwell.
"What's really important is that the virus is not spread in the community by people widely circulating if they are feeling unwell," Scott said.
"The tradition may have been to soldier on... but if students are feeling unwell and if teachers are feeling unwell, now is the right time to stay at home and stay isolated until you recover."
34 Of The 70 Confirmed Australian Cases Are In NSW.
Almost half of the 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia are in NSW.
On Saturday, authorities confirmed another six cases, bringing the state's total to 34.
All of the new cases were close contacts or family members of previously confirmed cases, except for a male who contracted the virus after visiting Italy.
NSW health authorities are tracking down passengers on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha after a man in his 70s was among the six new cases.
Twenty-two people have so far recovered from the virus in Australia, deputy chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly said.
"Most of the cases we have had so far, luckily at this point, have been quite mild, so the symptoms have recovered much quicker," Kelly said on Saturday.
An extra 260,000 masks will be immediately released from the federal stockpile to primary health networks, but doctors and others can ask for them too, Kelly added.
Meanwhile, a doctor has become Victoria's latest confirmed case of the virus, prompting concern for those he treated at The Toorak Clinic in Melbourne. His patients, along with staff, are required to self-isolate.
Two patients he visited in Malvern's Mecwacare nursing home are also in isolation.
"I'm absolutely flabbergasted that a doctor who has experienced flu-like symptoms has presented to work," Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Saturday morning.
"I understand it was very mild symptoms - perhaps he didn't make the potential link - but we've now got 70 patients that have been contacted, so it is incredibly important that all healthcare workers take this matter very seriously."
Kelly had a message for unwell people, especially workers: "Don't soldier on."
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