COVID-19 information updates

Latest UpdateSReturn to on-site schooling | precautionary measures | current learning guides | ChaplaiN’S dAILY MESSAGES

We are doing our very best to manage the school’s response conscientiously and carefully. Our school critical incident team is meeting regularly and considering any updates from NSW Health and the Association of Independent Schools. Updates will be emailed to parents and posted to this page for ease of access. 

Latest Updates

View Latest Updates

Update on 18 August 2020

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

As NSW Health takes action to prevent further community transmission of COVID-19, additional restrictions have been placed on independent schools, similar to those placed on government schools. These are not in the nature of advice, but are instructions backed by the authority of the NSW government. Requirements so registered are:

1.Students with even mild symptoms which may be COVID-19 are not to be sent to school. They must be excluded from school should they develop their symptoms during a school day. They are not to return to school until they have received a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (37.5 degrees or higher)
  • Cough
  • Sore/scratchy throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of taste

Other reported symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

While there may be potential here for parents to become somewhat annoyed if their children, displaying mild symptoms only, are excluded from school until a negative test result is secured, please understand that under the NSW Health protocols, the school has no choice but to enforce the requirements.

2. The City of Sydney has been declared a COVID-19 hot spot. NSW Health is asking anyone (adult or child) who lives in or has visited in the last two weeks, the following suburbs, and has any of the above health symptoms, to have a COVID-19 test:  Sydney CBD, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Rushcutters Bay, Elizabeth Bay and Centennial Park.

3. Mixing of students from schools of different regions is prohibited until further notice. This has led to the cancellation of Secondary School, Junior School and Gawura inter-school sport, including the remainder of the high school ISA season, while it places inter-school debating in doubt. Only co-curricular fencing and dance will continue at SACS as they both occur on-site. Training for all co-curricular sport will cease from 21 August 2020 until further notice.

4. The mixing of students or staff between schools, even in the local area, will be heavily restricted and, it seems, best avoided altogether.

5. Overnight events (camps, retreats, excursions, Duke of Edinburgh Award hikes) are prohibited.

6. Day excursions are prohibited, although Field Trips remain allowable. Field Trips are single day trips to open areas. Some syllabus areas absolutely require Field Trips for the successful completion of the course to occur. This is most important, of course, at HSC level.

7. School related group singing and the use of wind instruments in groups (bands, ensembles, orchestras) are prohibited, on the basis of some research which suggests that these activities may lead to the spread of the virus. This has considerable implications for our Music program. Individual Music tuition (vocal, wind instruments) remains permissible, provided social distancing is observed. The Music department are making separate contact with parents whose children are particularly affected.

8. School-related social activities which involve parents are prohibited. This means, sadly, that Year 12 parents will be unable to attend our Year 12 graduation. Our Senior College leadership are currently ascertaining which of the usual rites of passage for Year 12 remain viable under the restrictions.

9. Please note that performance examinations for HSC Music and Drama are permitted to continue, but with markers and support crew only in attendance, and, hence, no other live audience can be in the room.

10. NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) advises that the HSC written examinations during October and November will occur as scheduled.

11. The Director-General of the International Baccalaureate Organisation has written to all Southern Hemisphere schools which conduct the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Her instruction is that all schools in jurisdictions where schools are physically open, should continue to conduct the November IB Diploma written examinations as scheduled.

We will continue with our regime of strict hygiene at SACS, and social distancing of adults, and, where possible, students, consistent with continuing to conduct physical schooling. Similarly, parents will continue to only be admitted to the school premises by appointment. This is simply a precaution against the spreading of the virus, in light of the medical research which suggests that it is adult to adult transmission that is particularly virulent. We continue to advise all students travelling on public transport to wear a mask. Students are at liberty to wear the mask through the school day, if so desired.

Our understanding is that these restrictions will probably apply until the end of Term 3, by which time the Government will have assessed the situation in terms of any further instructions required.

This news will disappoint many, as we had all hoped that in NSW we were successfully suppressing COVID-19. It now appears the pandemic will have a longer run than we all hoped and expected.

Please be assured we will do our best to maintain everyone’s morale and to conduct whatever activities we possibly can under the restrictions. Parents and carers will be notified if the situation changes.

– Dr John Collier, Head of School

Update on 21 July 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

COVID-19 Restrictions and Term 3

Our current restrictions continue this term. Please click here for school procedures. In addition, parents/carers should be aware of the following changes for Term 3:

  • The school encourages students and staff to wear masks when travelling by public transport;
  • Students must not attend school if feeling unwell. If flu-like symptoms develop, a COVID-19 test is required;
  • Students who have returned from Victoria or overseas must self-isolate at home for 14 days and notify the school;
  • Parents/carers and visitors are not permitted on school grounds or events unless by appointment. This includes not attending assemblies, presentations, events, training, carnivals whether on school grounds or off-site venues;
  • Term 3 Sport resumes on 25 July; however, no spectators are permitted – this includes parents/carers. Further details will be provided for each sport by the Director of Sport and Co-curricular, Mr Van Wachem;
  • Assemblies, Chapels and Year Meetings will resume this term but only for 15 minutes at a time.

Update on 21 May 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Return to full on site schooling from next week

As you know, we intend to return to full on-site schooling from next week for all of our students, St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura, across all year groups.  This is consistent with the directive from the Premier and Minister for Education to government schools, to have all students back on site from next week. I am very grateful for the cooperation of parents, often requiring home supervision, the wonderful efforts of staff, and the persistence of students with our remote learning mode, which was of course a temporary expedient.

Along with other Heads of schools, I have had access to high level medical information from the government’s Chief Medical Advisers, and the advice of our political leaders. The advice from the immunologists is that very few students contract COVID-19 and there is almost no evidence of it being passed from one young person to another, nor of the infection being acquired within a school setting.  Accordingly, the Prime Minister has instructed that social distancing is not required in schools.

We are trying to maintain social distancing wherever possible

Nonetheless, we are acting as cautiously as we can. Our previously announced upgraded hygiene precautions will continue. Stairs will be for one way traffic only. We are recommencing, subject to the permission and precautions of the owners of the playing fields we lease, to bus small groups of students for non-contact sports training off-site. Apart from staff, other adults, including parents, will only be allowed on site by appointment, and only after they have signed declarations concerning their contact with COVID-19.

Students who are sick should not attend the school

It is critical that students who are sick do not attend school. If they are, parents will be contacted and they will be sent straight home. The medical authorities and government leaders have made it very clear that students who are ill must be kept at home. As per NSW Health recommendations, we would encourage children who have respiratory symptoms or unexplained fever to seek testing for COVID-19 as soon as practicable and for parents and students to download the COVIDSafe app to aid in contact tracing, should it be required.

Return to regular attendance management

From next week, students who are not in attendance will fall under the general attendance requirements and categorisations which apply to all non-government schools. Please understand this is not a case of the school executive trying to be implacable, but simply that we are required to enforce the government requirements. This implies that only those students who are sick will generally be granted approved leave.

The state government has announced that school students will receive priority on public transport, even if this means overloading such transport beyond current social distancing requirements. Media surveys suggest that the city will only open up gradually as some businesses continue to have their staff working from home. This will certainly assist in getting students to and from school.  Information from Transport for NSW appears below:

Information for schools from Transport for NSW

Transport for NSW is working closely with the education sectors and is playing a vital role in supporting students getting back to school. No school student will be turned away from public transport even if this means that physical distancing won’t always be possible on dedicated school services. On other services, school students will be given priority over other passengers even if this means a service goes over physical distancing capacity.

Transport for NSW are rolling out physical distancing “no dot, no spot” distinctive green dots across trains, buses and ferries to show passengers the safest place to sit and stand. Transport for NSW continues to support physical distancing and we will continue to work closely with operators and schools across the State and monitor services in the coming weeks.

Parents and carers should make travel choices which suit their individual circumstances and Transport for NSW is here to support them with real time information provided through apps, social media and the Transport Info website in order to see which services have space available. 

Transport for NSW continues to ramp-up cleaning across the network with a daily focus on high-touch areas like handrails and Opal readers. We will continue to provide full public transport services during COVID-19 to enable travel. For metro and outer metropolitan areas: students are reminded to tap on and tap off using their Opal cards. 

Transport to school by private vehicles

Bringing students to school by car is of course an option. Our drop-off zone in Kent Street can accommodate four cars only at a time and hence we need it to operate efficiently. Our drop-off zone in Bathurst Street, immediately adjacent to the stairs between St Andrew’s House and the Cathedral, is available when not being used by the Gawura bus. Unfortunately, the Wilson’s Car Park beneath St Andrew’s House has advised that they are now restricting free parking from the previous effective 30 minutes, back to a maximum 15 minutes. This is a commercial car park over which we have no control. We have asked the owners to reconsider.

We would very much like to hear from parents about any transport difficulties they and their children face. This will help us frame any decisions we need to make about modes of arrival and departure.

The Secondary School will be closed to students on Monday 25 May

Monday 25 May, as previously announced, will be a day for all secondary students (not Junior School or Gawura students) to work from home on work already set, i.e. to catch up on any backlog. This is to enable high school teaching staff to attend pastoral sessions, much of it run by Beyond Blue, which will assist students pastorally through the COVID-19 pandemic and any associated issues. Staff will also be able to reframe assessment and teaching timing and priorities as we transition from remote learning to in-classroom mode. The Junior School and Gawura will have a similar pupil free day, as already announced, on Friday 5 June, to enable staff to closely analyse where each student is up to in his or her learning, and to plan to cater for any identified gaps.

We are aware that the whole response within the Australian community to COVID-19 continues to evolve. Here at SACS we understand the need to be agile in adjusting to circumstances as they change. Please be assured we will continue to do our very best to educate and shepherd the young people in our care.

Deputy Heads Mr Swibel (Secondary School) and Mrs Robson (Junior School) and Head of Gawura, Mr Ralph, will send additional emails concerning operational matters for the areas of the school for which they are responsible.

– Dr John Collier, Head of School

Update on 14 May 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

As students have appeared, mostly on rotation, back at school this week, it has been lovely to see them.  Schools exist for young people and they are just shells without them.  I have to confess that I, for one, have really missed them.

Our school executive have been deep in thought and active in meeting time, trying to determine how best to move forward to full resumption of physical schooling as soon as allowable and possible. We have the benefit of information from the key medical advisory committee at Federal Government level, comprising the Chief Medical Officers of the Commonwealth and each of the States and Territories. We have also the announcements from government, in NSW mandatory for government schools and strongly advised for independent schools.

The medical advice is that schools are safe for students. There have been very few cases of people under 19 years of age contracting COVID-19 and hardly any cases of this being transmitted to other people, whether students or staff, within schools.

We are aware that for some parents and students, despite the diligence of staff in remote learning, this distance mode is fraying around the edges. Students are becoming (surprisingly we might think given their normal habits) irritated by the necessity of being on screens for most of the day and are finding it hard to continue to apply themselves, particularly in the home environment, which is normally for relaxation.  Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to hold their children to the tasks, to supervise them with online learning and minimise distractions, while at the same time maintaining their own professional work at home and conducting a household. Teachers are in the main eager to have their students back in class with them.  One nice aspect of this is that most certainly staff miss their students, and students can often even be prepared to admit that they miss their teachers!

We are aware that some independent schools already have all of their students back full-time. We have been slightly more cautious given the constraints on our ambient space within two high rise buildings, St Andrew’s House and the BBC, and due to our reliance on public transport, a dependence which is true for most independent schools, but particularly the case for SACS.

Although the Premier originally envisaged schools returning fully to their sites at the beginning of Term 3, she is now suggesting all schools may be allowed to do that by the beginning of June.

In the light of the tiny number of new cases occurring in NSW, and most of them in response to known infection hubs, we intend to move to Phase 2 of our return as of Monday 18 May i.e. next Monday. In the Junior School, this will involve inviting one more cohort back each day and hence will mean that in addition to having 33% of our students daily on rotation, plus the children of essential workers every day, ie. a total of about 50%, we will have 60% of all students in each day. In Gawura, we will move from attendance of everybody three days a week (given that classes are very small and so social distancing in classrooms is easy to maintain) to four days a week. In the Senior College, in addition to Year 12, Year 11 will come three days a week instead of one. Year 10 will be following the examination timetable as already set which will still see them in the school just on Thursday. (It is too late to recast the exams at this stage). In the Middle School, instead of one cohort each day for Years 7, 8 and 9, we will have two in attendance.

Our provisional plan, to be confirmed once we have received further medical and government advice (and provided there is not a second wave of COVID-19), is to move to complete physical resumption by students the week beginning Monday, 25 May. I emphasise that this is our present plan, and we need to confirm that next week.

It is difficult to impress the need for social distancing on young people. The younger do not understand the situation through which we are living. Teenagers tend to regard themselves as invincible and so feel little need to take precautions. We are insisting on social distancing when students are under the direct authority of staff. We are not confident they maintain social distancing when out of our sight. They are so pleased to be in one another’s company once again. It is important for parents to please emphasise this point.

As the Premier is opening up cafes and food outlets for a greater level of service from Tuesday 26 May, our view is that our seniors will be better off allowed to access the Arcade at recess and lunch from that time, than they would be milling around in numbers of 500 young people in the confines of the BBC. I’m sure the shopkeepers will be pleased to see them!

Of course we also need to care for staff, who are much more likely than young people to contract Coronavirus. Accordingly, although the risk may seem small, we are also encouraging them to practice social distancing and making it possible for them to drive to work rather than catch public transport, if they wish.

Our upgraded hygiene precautions at school will continue as before.

Until we manage to achieve full physical resumption, it is very important that students who are working remotely at home continue to apply themselves conscientiously despite any tedium. We cannot afford gaps in their education.

Details from Mr Swibel (Secondary School), Mrs Robson (Junior School) and Mr Ralph (Gawura), will be sent to parents with students in these sections of the school. These details will concern the operational arrangements of what we are calling Phases 2 and 3 of moving to having all students back on site.

Update on 1 May 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Over the last few days, SACS and Gawura, along with other schools in our sector, have received detailed medical advice from the government’s chief medical advisers, which indicates that in terms of transmission of COVID-19, schools are safe environments. This advice is based on an extensive medical study, which indicates that hardly any school age students have contracted COVID-19, and that there is no real evidence of the few who have been infected, transmitting that disease either to other students or to teachers. The NSW State Minister for Health and the Prime Minister have declared that schools are safe to resume physical attendance. The Federal Minister for Education has indicated that he wants all schools to be operating normally as soon as 1 June.  The Prime Minister has declared that current social distancing requirements do not apply in schools.

You are, I think, aware that our Premier is taking a more cautious approach and has both instructed government schools, and requested non-government schools, to continue remote learning, except for the children of officially designated essential workers, for another week, with a staged on-site resumption from Monday 11 May.  Here at SACS and Gawura, we are conforming to that cautious advice and hence will undertake the following arrangements.

From Monday 11 May:

  • Our Junior School students will return on a rotational system, initially with students returning one rostered day per week from Week Three and then rising to two days a week and then moving to five days.  A separate letter from Mrs Robson, Deputy Head K-6, will elaborate upon these arrangements.
  • All Gawura students will return on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, on the basis that Gawura classes are very small. On Thursdays and Fridays, remote learning will continue. A letter from Mr Ralph, Head of Gawura, will provide further detail.
  • Year 12 will return full-time and Years 7-11 will return one day a week, rising in due course to two days a week and later to five days. A combined letter from Mr Swibel, Mr Partington and Mr Lindsay will indicate arrangements in detail.
  • The school, of course, is open to receive any students on any day as necessitated by parental decision, but we would by far prefer that parents abide by the Premier’s request as far as possible that we maintain remote learning for the first two weeks of term, and commence a gradual physical resumption as per the above advice.

When students are not physically required at school, remote learning will continue.

I need to stress that these arrangements are current as of the moment. As medical and political knowledge and advice evolves, we may need to amend them, and hence are unable to determine immediately when we will move from the first to the second phase of further onsite resumption of lessons. Our general view here at SACS is that to avoid confusion and constant change, we should attempt to work in two week blocks and give parents as much notice as possible of when we are able to adjust these arrangements.

Risk mitigation

Although the medical evidence indicates community transmission of COVID-19, apart, tragically, from within aged care facilities, is now very rare, we need to continue to take sensible precautions. Those we have identified include the following:

  • Students who are sick must, under no circumstances, be sent to school. Should this happen, they will immediately be sent home.
  • A strong regime of continuous cleaning throughout the school will continue, with antiseptic wiping down of surfaces.
  • Soap and hand sanitiser will be widely available to students.
  • Staff will have supplies of antiseptic wipes, particularly for the rather unpleasant business of sterilising surfaces should anyone cough or sneeze.
  • Bubblers, which, by their design, allow students to put their mouths around the fittings, will be switched off. Water fountains will remain available, provided students do not push their bottles up into physical contact with the fountain, or drink directly from fountains. Any sign of that happening will lead to the fountains immediately being switched off, and therefore students should bring sufficient bottled water for the day. 
  • Stairs will be designated variously for ascent and descent, in order to avoid people passing in close proximity.
  • As far as is practicable, given the architecture of SACS, we will limit the number of people simultaneously in lifts, while acknowledging this will be difficult to do for young children who will need supervision within and at each end of the lift journey.
  • Commencement and dismissal times of students will be staggered in order to avoid a large bulk of people endeavouring to access our buildings at the same time.
  • In order to protect staff who, due to their age are seen medically as more at risk than children, social distancing arrangements will be established for staff working spaces, and staff will be invited to drive to and from school while parking remains readily available in SAH car park (while so many city workers are not at their work sites).
  • Other than staff, no other adults, including parents, will have access to SAH or the BBC, without an appointment, until the COVID-19 crisis is over.
  • Parents might consider downloading the COVID-19 Safe App provided by the government onto their children’s phones, which will allow alerts should their children come into contact with someone infectious.
  • It would be appreciated if parents will stress to students, as indeed we will at school, that the COVID-19 crisis is not over and that even young people for their own protection, should, as far as possible, continue to abide by reasonable social distancing rules. Particularly, they should be encouraged, despite their delight at once again seeing one another, to avoid the hugs and high fives that are so commonplace these days amongst young people. There will be a time for these signs of connection in due course, but that time is not now.

Other considerations

  1. Expert medical advice from the National Committee of Medical Specialists managing Australia’s response to Coronavirus has advised that:
    • Wearing masks is likely to increase rather than reduce the possibility of contracting Coronavirus (except of course for frontline medical staff, who are actually dealing with infectious patients). This apparently is because of the difficulty of keeping masks clean, where contamination can actually breed within the fabric. Nonetheless, if parents wish their children to wear masks, that is certainly acceptable in the current situation. Some staff may choose to wear masks.
    • There is no evidence that temperature checking is relevant to identification of the presence of COVID-19.
  2. My understanding is that air-conditioning is not regarded as an important risk factor in transmitting the COVID-19 virus, and so our reliance on air-conditioning in our buildings does not appear to enhance risk factors.
  3. With respect to senior students, they will be prohibited from going out at recess and lunch for the time being. This is partly a protective strategy, but also relates to the fact that nearly all food outlets in the vicinity are currently closed. As the Senior College canteen is tiny, students are advised to bring a packed lunch. Classrooms will be open during recess and lunch in the BBC for consumption of food there, in lieu of access to the arcade and the QVB.
  4. In the last couple of weeks of Term 1, there was a great increase in parents driving their children to school and/or picking them up from school and therefore in queues for the Kent Street kiss and drop zone. On occasions, these queues created a traffic hazard, as they continued around into Bathurst Street. Parents are reminded that they can drive into the Wilsons Car Park under St Andrew’s House, and in fact have 30 minutes free parking. This is a much better option than creating a traffic snarl in Kent Street. Of course, the Bathurst Street drop zone is also available when not occupied by the Gawura Bus.

Most people are finding current arrangements amidst Coronavirus to be difficult. I am grateful for the support and affirmation from so many many parents. I very much appreciate the fine work of teaching staff, who have managed so capably the adjustment to online learning. This mode is actually much more work for them and it will be a great relief to everyone to resume normal physical operations as soon as possible. I am similarly grateful to our support and administrative staff for managing the transition of so much of their work to offsite remote mode.

We hope we will soon get back to as close to normal as we possibly can ‘on the other side’. Heads of Division / Deputies will be in further touch with operational arrangements.

Further information and details of remote and on-site learning can be found on our website here:

I look forward to actually seeing you again soon.


Update on 23 April 2020

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

Government advice

At the moment, we are trying to best navigate the situation with regard to an in-person return to school by students and staff.  On the one hand, our wish is to resume normality as soon as possible, but on the other hand we wish to keep all our people, staff, students and parents, safe. The political advice between Canberra and the states has not been consistent, and indeed varies from day to day.  This makes effective judgement difficult, but I am very much aware that parents need notice if childcare arrangements at home are to be extended.  Accordingly, we have tried to avoid making a call too early, such that circumstances may warrant a change in our advice, while not being so late as to cause massive inconvenience. The announcement by the Premier on Wednesday 22 April that government schools would follow a four-phase return provides us with a yardstick by which to determine our response, which has been shaped by a recent meeting of our school council Finance & Risk sub-committee.

Medical authorities continue to reassure the public that schools are safe for students and that the possibility of community transmission within schools is low. The Premier has nonetheless determined for government schools that the first two weeks of term will continue with remote learning, with the hope that COVID-19 will be under sufficient control for students to begin to return physically to classes from the beginning of Week 3, Monday, 11 May 2020. This is a cautious mitigation strategy to attempt to avoid a fresh spike in infections. The Premier proposes a four-phase physical resumption of schooling, wherein students will return one day a week from this date (Phase 1), followed, provided management of COVID-19 proceeds well throughout the state, by a Phase 2 in mid-June, where students will be able to return two days a week to physical schooling. Phase 3, from the beginning of Term 3 in July, would see all students physically back at school, and Phase 4, at a time to be determined, would see the resumption of excursions and inter-school sport. Although these requirements are not obligatory for independent schools, they provide a model for us, and according to the Association of Independent Schools, are being well received across our sector.

While schools, as an essential service, are exempt from social distancing requirements, there is every encouragement to maintain social distancing as far as possible. The capacity of schools to do this is very limited, given that the size of classrooms makes any real spreading of students impossible. The physical structure of St Andrew’s in enclosed high rise buildings, with limited playground and ambient space, and lack of access to fresh air outside, adds an extra dimension to that difficulty. Advice to educators from the government suggests that wearing masks is likely to do more harm than good (due to the difficulty of keeping them clean and hence likely contaminants of infection).  

Our school situation

Here at SACS we are wary of a full physical resumption too early in the course of COVID-19. In addition to factors outlined above, this is particularly because, unlike most schools which are local schools, SACS and Gawura are heavily reliant on trains and buses and, for some, their exposure is heightened by long journeys. Social distancing on public transport is not possible once the economy commences to swing back into more normal operation.

For all these reasons, we are inclined to take a cautious, not a cavalier approach, to the issue of returning students to our site.

In compliance with current medical and political advice, St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura will continue in remote learning mode for at least the first two weeks of Term 2.

We are considering our best model for a return to onsite learning.

Our arrangements on a partial physical return to school from week 3 are currently being organised and will be conveyed to parents as soon as they are ready. They will emphasise social distancing. In the Junior School, they will operate around bringing two Houses of students i.e. one quarter of our enrolment to school each day, such that the number of students in any class is quite small. For Gawura, Mr Ralph will advise of particular arrangements. In the high school, some re-timetabling and re-rooming will be necessary to ensure social distancing, as we make use of both St Andrew’s House and the BBC for Middle School students and Senior College students on days they are present. When this model has been completed, Mr Swibel will be in touch with parents about the arrangements. We are examining ways to give particular priority to Year 12, and ways to allow onto site those who need to work on physical major projects as part of their HSC. Advice on other steps we are taking to enforce the best of hygiene and social distancing measures will be conveyed to parents by Mr Swibel, Mrs Robson and Mr Ralph respectively.

The school remains physically open as it was in the last weeks of Term 1 for the children of emergency staff and for other children whose learning difficulties are such as to make schooling from home well nigh impossible. Other parents may elect to send children to school for minimal supervision as they continue online learning, although in accordance with the Premier’s advice, we would recommend that nearly all students continue with remote learning from home for this period of time.

Our teachers have done an exceptional job in the quick changeover to online delivery, however we will only have them teach in one mode, (i.e. remote or face-to-face) as it is impossible to do both.

Fortunately, at SACS and Gawura, we are much better organised for remote learning than are some schools and systems, as well as working on practical risk mitigation strategies for a full return to on-site schooling, alongside examining ways in which physical sport and co-curricular activities can recommence, but without physical contact.

Management of COVID-19 continues to be a very fluid situation. This advice is the best we can give at the moment according to the current situation. I am very grateful for the patience and cooperation of parents in a very challenging time.

If your child cannot learn from home in the first two weeks of term, please inform us.

If you are an essential or health care worker and your child is unable to learn from home in the first two weeks of term, can you please email the following receptions to confirm their attendance at school, by no later than 1pm the previous day.

Uniform Shop – open by appointment

Parents and caregivers are reminded that Junior School, Gawura and high school students have the freedom to continue in summer uniform if they wish for this period of time, prior to full physical resumption of schooling. Alternatively, they may of course wear winter uniform. To maintain social distancing measures, the Uniform Shop will be by appointment only for Term 2. The shop will be open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday starting Week 1. You can book through the below link:

(Please cancel your uniform appointment if you feel unwell on the day)

We also have our Online Shop (located on the parent portal) where you can make purchases for Winter Uniform and pick up from Reception for Week 1 and Week 2 of term. As students presumably begin to return to the school in Week 3, please use our Online Shop for purchases, where possible, and we will arrange delivery to the students’ classroom and Senior College students will be able to pick up from BBC reception. Students will be able to exchange items during breaks if the incorrect size is purchased.

Any questions or concerns please contact Larissa Taylor on [email protected]


Update on 1 April 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

This email serves as an update for you on where we stand at the moment with delivery of school and where we anticipate we will be.  For ease of reflection, I have set this out as numbered points:

  1. Our remote learning protocols seem to be functioning quite well (according to feedback from parents and staff) and given the newness to everybody of this mode. The large file I have of parents expressing gratitude for these arrangements has been received with pleasure and gratitude.
  2. It is acknowledged that this is difficult for everybody. For students and staff, screen learning is intense. For parents who are endeavouring to manage the home front, deal with multiple children sometimes enrolled across several schools, and run their own businesses from home, this is very demanding.  Kindergarten students have the struggle of not yet being able to read instructions, and needing lots of focus from parents. At the other end of the continuum, Year 12 are grieving the substantial loss of the experience of their final year, which is a rite of passage, and wondering what will happen in terms of HSC or IB Diploma examinations. We all persist because in this situation we have no other choices. We, parents and staff, cannot afford to forsake a year of education for our students.
  3. As a staff we are committed to making remote school work well as we anticipate, according to government modelling, that we might be in this situation for many months. Accordingly, as well as delivering curriculum and assessment by remote mode, we are delivering pastoral care as best we can from a distance, continuing with Christian education via daily devotions and chapel, offering co-curricular education through the provision of what we can online, and offering sport in the form of an online fitness regime in readiness for a full resumption of sport when we are all physically back on site.
  4. I encourage you to have your children log on to daily high school devotions and chapel, and Junior School / Gawura chapel. These are times of encouragement and ongoing connection, which we anticipate will create hope and a sense of belonging.
  5. A whole range of new protocols regarding student issues has developed in these peculiar times. Fractional truancy now seems to mean not being on one’s device at the appointed time! Parents please support our insistence that students present in school uniform. As has been pointed out previously, this relates to a child safe online environment, promotes connection, and helps get students into the right mode of school.
  6. Teachers are working incredibly hard. Preparation for online delivery seems to take approximately double the time as preparation for in-class lessons. In addition to that, the stream of constant clarification emails from students and parents is very demanding. Please be patient with staff as they attempt to navigate all of this.
  7. We have found that students in general cannot manage the full workload we would like to set. We have therefore reduced that for Junior School, Gawura and Middle School students, and for Years 11 and 12 made a slight reduction to 90 per cent of what we had originally anticipated. Year 10 parents have received a separate email on this matter.
  8. It appears that many internal examinations at high school level will need to be conducted at home, with parents serving as invigilators. We will develop a disclosure form, where students and parents sign to the effect that the work is the student’s own work and has been done under examination conditions. This step is in anticipation of what credentialing authorities are expected to require. We envisage that examination times will have a specific schedule and the questions will go offline at the end of that time.
  9. At this stage, one casualty of our remote relationships is student birthday cards. With most staff working offsite, we lack the current capacity to generate the student labels and with reception mostly being conducted remotely, we lack the capacity to post these out. I am sorry about this. We hope normality will re-establish itself soon.
  10. We understand that some of our seniors are not practising social distancing.  Teenagers can often feel invincible. Parents need to remind them please that they too can catch COVID-19 and become very ill, and they may pass it on to you and other family members!
  11. With Mr Pratt leaving our employment from Design and Visual Arts at the end of term, we are being joined by Mr Thomas Wong, an experienced teacher with expertise in Design and Technology, Timber and Computing. He will have a handover with Mr Pratt (online) and commence work having inherited all files at the beginning of Term 2.  Mr Pratt’s classes will need to adjust to being taught remotely by someone they have never met!
  12. I have sent a message to all high school students today. It can be found at:

My message to Junior School and Gawura students will be embedded in next week’s Easter service.

  1. There has been some concern about my exposure as the oldest full-time member of staff, and so I am bowing to pressure and working from home from tomorrow. This will limit my capacity to be in contact with parents, other than when I manage to creep into the office in the depth of night, knowing I have scope within the current embargo because any visits I make are for educational purposes.
  2. I am looking forward to actually seeing and speaking with as many of you as possible, as soon as possible.
  3. Do have, as far as possible, a Happy Easter! I remind you of the encouraging messages that can be accessed from the Cathedral at
  4. Eat some chocolate!

Update 2 on 27 March 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

We are living through extraordinary times. As you know, we are endeavouring to run as close as we possibly can to ‘full school’ i.e. where we continue our core business of education under remote mode. We spent a lot of time preparing for this likelihood, training and equipping staff, and testing our systems. We cannot afford to waste a learning year for students. For this reason, we are delivering learning and assessment online. I am very encouraged by the number of creative lessons teachers have developed.

Please be aware that for teaching staff the current environment is not less work, but more. They are in new territory, developing new kinds of lessons to deliver remotely and endeavouring, despite the restrictions of physical distance, to meet the needs of individual students. I have encouraged staff to put some boundaries around their time, so that they are not running themselves ragged. They too are trying in many cases to supervise their own children at home, as indeed are many of you. Please do not bombard them with questions and expect immediate answers. Out of their professionalism and concern for their students, they will all do their very best.

We all recognise the difficulty of keeping students focussed, given the repetitive nature of some online work. All of us, staff and parents, will need to work together to this end, as the indications are we may be in this mode for quite some time.  Some predictions are that a resumption of physical schooling is unlikely before Term 3. We can give no assurances at this stage.

Just as we are attempting to deliver full school, in terms of learning, we are trying to maintain pastoral connectivity with our students. This is important for their welfare, which will be enhanced by a strong sense of belonging. We are aware that a situation of some isolation will exacerbate mental health issues for some of our students. Parents who are concerned about this are encouraged to make contact with the appropriate school counsellor, and if necessary organise an online conference for their son or daughter.

Our Christian education programs will continue to be run through daily devotions and online chapel. We will continue, as far as possible, to deliver our co-curricular programs through the provision, for instance, of rehearsal music, podcasts and videos. While our Junior School/Gawura and high school sports program is on hold for the moment, we certainly want our students to remain fit, ready for a resumption of sport as soon as possible. Some of our sporting staff are rolling out online information to this end.

Our outdoor education programs are on hold until Term 3. Our outdoor education staff and sports interns have been relocated to Kirrikee to undertake site maintenance and development work.

Term 2 fees invoices will be despatched in the coming weeks. There are perhaps several things to say about that:

  1. We are aware that as the economy slows some of our parents will struggle financially. The school wishes to be sympathetic to people who are struggling at this time. Those who need to negotiate extended time to pay fees should make contact with our Executive Director School Services, Ms Nicola Warwick-Mayo.
  2. In connection with fees, please be aware that the school needs to be able to pay its own creditors. Most of our expenses are, in fact, the salaries of our staff, the very people who are exerting themselves so splendidly in a new domain to support our students at this time. The school also needs to continue to pay rent, representing millions of dollars, on its own premises.  The school needs to continue to function for our students and parents.
  3. Clearly, some activities such as excursions and outdoor education are currently in recess.  We are reviewing the timing of our outdoor education program to see if camps and activities can be offered later in the year.   However, the Curriculum and Activities Levy, which covers the cost of excursions, will not be charged for Term 2. This will represent some saving for all parents.

At this time, to the best of our knowledge, no one in our school community has contracted COVID-19.  A number of staff, parents and students have been tested, and all tests have been negative.

We will continue to be challenged in many ways by the current situation. We will continue to work together, staff, parents and students, to the best outcome. We know the crisis will end.  We don’t know when that will be. Here at SACS we continue to place our trust in the Lord God and ask that he will relieve our situation.

Update 1 on 27 March 2020

Dear Year 7-12 parents and students,

We have made it to the end of our first week of remote learning and hopefully there are not too many more! However, we are planning on continuing in this manner until the end of Term 1, Wednesday 8 April. Dr Collier will advise of any changes to Term 2 operations.

Please find here a link to all our Remote Learning Guides and Policies. It is very important that these are read by all students and parents. These also include how students will be assessed in Semester 1 and how remote learning works in practical subjects.

Students are reminded to:

  • Wear school/PE uniform to all video conferences;
  • Turn their webcams on if requested by a teacher;
  • Complete Tutor Group roll call between 8am-8.30am every school day. If students complete the form outside these times they will be marked absent;
  • Complete all work set and be ready for classes. You will receive an infringement if you are unprepared, which will appear in the Student/Parent Friday Digest and may result in your parents/carers being contacted;
  • Read lesson instructions carefully so you don’t ask unnecessary questions. Try asking a fellow student first before asking the teacher; and
  • Be available for a Tutor Group video conference once/week and a 1-2-1 call from your Tutor once/fortnight.

As the Uniform Store is closed, parents do not need to buy winter uniforms at this stage for Term 2. There will be leniency around summer/winter uniform in Term 2 until we return to normal on-site operations.

If you have any questions or concerns, please direct these to the relevant teacher, pastoral leader, divisional head or myself.

Brad Swibel
Deputy Head of School (Secondary)

Update on 23 March 2020

As I pen these remarks, I am aware that the situation with the current epidemic is so fluid, that by the time my comments are read, they may be out of date, overtaken by events.

In conformity with the instructions from our Premier this morning – Monday 23 March – the school will move entirely onto online learning and encourage parents to keep their children at home if possible. The school will remain physically open for those parents who choose to send their children and minimum supervision will be provided, however, again in conformity with the Premier’s instruction, we will move entirely to online mode, whether students receive this at school or in their homes. This is the very mode we trialled successfully last Friday.

In order to maintain continuity of learning and pastoral services, we intend to deliver, as far as practically possible, the full services of the school. Teachers will not only provide learning resources, but be available for online discussion and assistance and assessment of student work, with corresponding feedback. Practical subjects will embark on theory aspects of coursework for the time being. Our pastoral teams will continue to check in with students and our School Counsellors have developed online consultation protocols. We are anticipating our chaplaincy staff offering a daily devotion, accessible to students and staff. We are exploring ways to deliver Chapel online. The only exceptions to full service delivery relate to aspects of our co-curricular program, where, consistent with the advice of our meetings and social distancing, some of these have been put on hold for the time being. However, with respect to sport, we are expecting to deliver online information to our teams about training and particularly about keeping fit in order for an eventual resumption of the physical sporting program later in the year. Other aspects of co-curricular programs will endeavour to provide online resources for students relevant to their area of interest. Already, ensembles have been given rehearsal music.

We cannot afford to forsake a whole year of schooling for our students, which is why we are determined to offer full services as far as possible, by distance mode.

Until now, the school has remained physically open for all teaching activities according not only to advice but entreaties from NSW Health, the Association of Independent Schools, the Premier and the Prime Minister. Their view has been that to close schools prematurely would worsen the impact of the virus rather than limit its spread. This argument is based on the notion that young people are, unless they have a major chronic illness, the least liable to be seriously affected by COVID-19, should they contract it. David Isaacs, Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at Sydney University and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, has been quoted as saying that COVID-19, in the case of children, behaves entirely differently from influenza in the case of the young. He claims that there is little evidence that children infected with the illness are passing it on to other children. Medical evidence suggests that students who catch this illness would find it presents as a minor cold, and for some it will be so minor they will not even know they are infected. The concern therefore has been that if students aren’t at school, they will be looked after by grandparents (the elderly are an ‘at risk’ group) or be found in shopping centres and other areas of mixed generation potential contagion.

Medical experts are not united in this view. Some of our own parents with such expertise believe we should have closed before now. Some have pointed out that as our students travel extensively on public transport, they are at greater risk of contamination than those who attend local schools, accessed mainly by walking. The force of this argument is acknowledged, however, SACS in that respect is not different from the majority of independent schools, which also rely heavily on trains and buses to deliver their students to and from school each day. Up until now, there has been little evidence of community contagion, apart from those who have travelled overseas. Our School Council Finance & Risk committee has therefore been of the view that for SACS as an individual school to make a unilateral decision to withdraw classes would make very little contribution to the public health of the community. There is the sense that we need to operate in conjunction with what the schooling system overall is doing. It appears our health and political leaders now believe that we have come to a tipping point, where it would be preferable for most students to stay at home. We are therefore implementing this advice as of now. In order to protect our staff who choose to come to school rather than exercise the option of working from home, the school is offering to pay for parking, so that they can drive to and from work, thereby avoiding public transport.

SACS has been attempting to prepare responsibly for a time when the decision may be made to move entirely to online delivery of curriculum and assessment. We have trialled such delivery and have been pleased with not only the capacity of our IT platforms, but the excellent cooperation of students and parents. I am grateful to staff for their diligence in managing what to many is a very unfamiliar means of teaching.

The difficulty in withdrawing personal attendance of students early has been that it may commit us to relating to our students off-site for many months. A number of our parents have appeared to assume that if the school sends students home for just a couple of weeks, it can then re-open for onsite delivery. In fact, all the modelling suggests that the situation will be worse in late April and May than it is now. Some are of the view that once schools move to this mode, they may very likely not be able to readmit students to regular classes for months, or, in a worst case scenario, until 2021. Moving into remote learning now and then converting to full in-class delivery at a time when the virus is more prevalent in the community has not seemed to be a helpful possibility. Accordingly, much of the debate amongst health, educational and political leaders has been about timing.

Initial advice from NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) is that they will allow flexibility in meeting requirements of state and national curriculum, particularly as related to the HSC. The International Baccalaureate Organisation has been quick to do the same. As an international curriculum authority, the IBO is familiar with the need to deal with revolutions, floods and epidemics which disrupt schooling.

This is a time of heightened anxiety in our community. We have seen that in the extraordinary behaviour of people in shopping centres. We have unfortunately witnessed a few Middle School parents, who are not accustomed to using our kiss and drop zone, verbally abusing staff when the traffic became congested. While I understand in times of crisis people are inclined to look to their own interests, I urge all of our parents to think about, and on behalf of, the whole community.

We have requested our pastoral staff to check in regularly with their particular flocks of students for whom they exercise responsibility. As a staff, we have been reassured by the words of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  (The Lord says), “Be still, and know that I am God.

Younger children are particularly vulnerable to anxiety as they try to understand what is happening. They will need reassurance and interpretation not only from school but at home.

We have been enacting the very best of hygiene precautions and social distancing, such as we can as a large school community. Cleaners are continually moving through the school disinfecting door handles and other surfaces. Students have been instructed to wash hands with soap and water prior to eating; hand sanitisers are available in every classroom.

These are uncertain and difficult times. Everyone – staff, parents and students – must try to do everything possible to navigate this uncertainty. Our desire as a school is to be agile in responding to advice, and very communicative with parents.

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 19 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

I wish to extend our thanks for your support of our remote learning trial yesterday. The School Executive have gone through all of the student, staff and parent survey responses and data. There has been overwhelming confidence in our systems and processes and we are pleased with the delivery of materials and engagement of students.

The feedback shows there is a need for further training of our Junior School and Gawura students and K-12 staff. To this end, we will continue training our K-6 students in remote learning at school tomorrow (Friday). On Monday 23 March, K-12 students will learn from home. This is not another remote learning trial, this time is to enable further staff training and for staff to develop curriculum materials and processes in case of extended remote learning. Please see details below:

Monday 23 March

  • K-6 (Junior School and Gawura)
    • all students work from home
    • teachers will post lesson instructions by 9am (K – 2 See Saw; Y3 – 6 Schoology)
    • class teacher will video conference their class at 9am to discuss the day’s work (school / sports uniform is required for this video conference)
    • due to the staff training on the day, there will be no interaction with teachers after 9:30am.
  • Years 7-12
    • all students work from home (as there is no video conferencing, mufti dress is permitted)
    • teachers will post lesson instructions by 8.30am in Schoology
    • teachers will be available on email between 8.30am – 9am to answer any questions about the day’s work
    • due to the staff training on the day, there will be no interaction with teachers after 9am

If your child cannot stay home, there will be limited supervision available in our school libraries, and they should report to reception by 8.30am. Please email the [email protected] if your child requires supervision at school.

We thank you for your continued support in this challenging time.

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Mr Brad Swibel                                             
Deputy Head of School (Secondary)

Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura, Acting Head, Junior School

Update on 18 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

This post is to provide clarity on what is happening with respect to attendance at St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura, tomorrow and Friday i.e. 19 and 20 March 2020.  We are conforming to current advice from NSW Health, education authorities, the Premier and Prime Minister, which is that we should remain open, servicing the learning needs of our students in regular classrooms.

We plan to gain feedback from both students and staff on today’s Kindergarten to Year 12 remote learning trial, so that we can overcome any delivery problems.

We expect and require our students and families to abide by all the advice they have been given, which is essentially in four domains:

  1. Maintain excellent hygiene, especially hand hygiene, with washing with soap and water prior to eating, and avoidance, as far as possible, of touching other people and one’s face.  In this we are following medical advice that this particular form of Coronavirus is transmitted commonly through touch.
  2. Exercise social distancing as far as this is possible. For this reason we are limiting the size of gatherings at school.
  3. Maintain self-exclusion advice for those who have recently returned from overseas or been in close contact with those who have so travelled.
  4. In order to protect the rest of our school community, no one is to attend school if they are unwell.

Notwithstanding this advice, we are aware that a time may come when schools, including SACS and Gawura, need to move for a period into remote delivery of teaching to students at home.

We remain on alert for further advice, and perhaps instruction, from authorities, and will inform parents with the greatest possible notice we can manage if the situation changes.

These are challenging times, and we are all grateful for the goodwill and cooperation of our parent community as we try to best maintain the continuing work of our students and staff.


Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 16 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

I write to provide further information on the school’s response to Coronavirus. We are operating in response to the best and most recent advice from NSW Health (see letter from the NSW Ministry of Health here and in Mandarin here) and the Association of Independent Schools. In summary, the school will remain open currently for core business i.e. classroom teaching, but, as outlined below, we are taking enhanced precautions.

The advice from the health experts is that pre-emptive closing of schools will probably do more harm than good. This is because:

  • Young people are not in the ‘at risk’ category, unless they have an additional major health issue. Medical advice is that most young people who contract Coronavirus will find it presents only as a minor cold. The most extensive experience of youth with this illness has been in China, where of the tens of thousands of people confirmed with Coronavirus, there was only one death in the under 19 aged bracket. In Italy, the epicentre of the virus in Europe, the average age of death from the virus is 82.
  • The most at risk aged category is the elderly. Students excluded from schools which are closed may in many cases need to be supervised by grandparents, which would increase the risk level of this older age group.
  • Young people not able to attend schools because they are closed, would very likely be out in shopping centres and the community mixing, which would increase contagion.
  • An early closure of schools may be very unhelpful, as medical experts predict the virus will peak in Australia in May. Accordingly, if schools close now and open later, they may be opening at the time of greatest vulnerability.
  • We need to look ahead at what an early closure might mean. It may consign us to be closed for up to six months, which is the predicted life of any epidemic in Australia. We have real doubts as to whether our parents, and indeed our students, could cope with a closure of that length, given the supervision requirements of our younger students and the sophisticated curriculum requirements of our older students.
  • Experts advise that if schools close, that will take many healthcare professionals away from the jobs, as they will need to look after children at home. This would impede the capacity of the health system to deal with those who are ill. We therefore need to be aware of the larger picture in society.
  • Currently, according to our health briefings, Australians who have contracted Coronavirus have either been infected overseas or been in very close proximity with family members who have been overseas. Widespread community transmission of the disease has not yet occurred. It is up to governments to determine the appropriate time for more widespread closures to prevent such transmission, and of course they will attempt to enact such closures neither too early nor too late.

At the time of writing, no schools in NSW, whether government, non-government or independent have been closed, except temporarily in response to someone in their school community diagnosed with Coronavirus. We have no one identified with Coronavirus. If someone is identified, we will receive immediate contact from NSW Health. Currently, to the best of my knowledge, two boarding schools in Australia, one in Victoria and one in Tasmania, are the only schools which have closed, and that decision is related to their boarding houses.

We are doing are very best to manage our school’s response conscientiously and carefully. Our school critical incident team is meeting every day and considering any updates from NSW Health and the Association of Independent Schools. This morning, we have enacted the following additional protective steps, which will apply until further notice:

  1. If you or your child has returned from overseas (any country) in the last 14 days, we ask that you and your child self-isolate until the expiry of that 14-day period and not attend school in that time.
  2. School assemblies, school excursions and inter-school sporting events and training are cancelled.
  3. Gatherings within the school of more than 50 people are cancelled, or broken into small groups. This includes music ensemble rehearsals.
  4. Staff external in-service and conferences are cancelled.
  5. Non-essential staff travel is cancelled.
  6. Outdoor education camps are suspended.
  7. Junior School and Gawura dismissal times will be staggered to limit the size of parent gatherings at the front of the school, as parents and carers wait for children. They are as follows:
    Stage 1 – 2.50pm
    Stage 2 – 3.10pm
    Stage 3 – 3.00pm
    Gawura – normal arrangements for the bus.
  8. Parent lanyards are suspended. Any parents needing to visit the school will need to sign a declaration that they have no Coronavirus symptoms and have not travelled overseas in the last 14 days.
  9. Visitor access to the school will be strictly by appointment.

Parents whose children have chronic illnesses which place them in an at risk category, are advised to seek medical advice as to whether they should quarantine their children at this stage. Such conditions include, but are not limited to lung conditions, including asthma, diabetes and cancer (we have at least one student currently being treated).

Some parents have pre-emptively excluded their children and asked for the school to provide remote learning facilities. Staff can most certainly place work on our platforms, but they cannot both teach classes and teach remotely simultaneously, as this would be logistically impossible.

A very helpful summary from ABC news related to the current situation can be accessed by clicking the link below:

In order to prepare ourselves for a worst case scenario (which we hope does not occur), we are undertaking further trialling of remote learning tomorrow afternoon and on Wednesday. Information about this will be communicated to parents and caregivers very soon.

I very much appreciate the goodwill of parents and the number who have been very responsible in asking questions about their own travel and their own contact. We will proceed on the basis of the best possible advice and in concert with the education sector in general. We all need to function calmly and wisely in what will be a testing situation.

Yours faithfully,

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 11 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

Please accept my apologies for the frequency of communications on this topic, however we are dealing with a fluid situation where getting timely information into the hands of parents is important.

The School Executive continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, consulting with NSW Health and the AIS (Association of Independent Schools) and constantly evaluating the impact it may have on the school and its activities.

We ask that all families support the school by adopting the following precautions:

  • If your child is not well, do not send them to school.
  • If your child or family members in your household have travelled to China, Iran, South Korea, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore we ask that your child self-isolates for 14 days and does not attend the school unless you can provide a doctor’s certificate with a negative test result for COVID-19.
  • If you or your child has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, please notify the school immediately, self-isolate and test for COVID-19.

A risk management plan has been enacted which involves the following:

  • Work has been set for quarantined students
  • All students and staff are reminded to regularly wash hands
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures have been enacted
  • International Tours have been cancelled
  • National travel and excursions are being risk assessed on a case-by-case basis
  • Large school events are being evaluated
  • A self declaration protocol has been enacted for visitors
  • Planning is underway for whole-school remote learning, should that be necessary.

Trialling remote learning

The school will be conducting a full year group ‘online remote learning trial’ with Year 9 staff and students on Friday 13 March. The purpose of the trial is to test the school’s capability to provide alternative learning structures off campus, should they be needed. There is no imminent need for this at the present time, however it is prudent for us to test and learn, given the evolving nature of the situation. Staff, students and parents of Year 9 will be briefed on Wednesday 11 March.

Please consider your need to travel

We respect the right of individual families to travel, however we advise that quarantine measures will be imposed by the school based on NSW Health advice and our own assessment of risk. Guidance is changing frequently and could even change during the course of a trip, necessitating a student’s exclusion from school upon your return, causing unfortunate disruption to learning continuity.

You can contact our School Nurse directly on [email protected] or 9286 9570 if needed. Please see NSW Health details for more information:

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 3 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

Due to the continually changing nature of the Coronavirus situation and the fluidity of the advice being provided by health authorities, below is an update on the way the school is responding to COVID-19.

The NSW Health Department has now urged people returning from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran to be vigilant in monitoring themselves for respiratory symptoms or fever. If you or a family member has, or is about to, return from any of these areas, we ask that you self-isolate for 14 days and not attend the school. We have a number of assistive measures in place to support students on our learning management system and teachers are available on email or phone as is necessary to maintain schooling.

NSW Chief Health Officer has confirmed that there appears to now be evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia, and so we are taking precautions to protect our school community and we ask that you do the same.

The scheduled History Tour to Europe, Music Tour of Japan and the Languages Tour to China were cancelled last week. We will look at other opportunities for learning enrichment that do not pose the same potential health risks.

We have also stepped up a series of hygiene measures – students and staff are advised to wash their hands regularly; workspaces, desktops and other hard services are being disinfected regularly. We also remind everyone about the protocol of coughing and encourage anyone with flu like symptoms to stay in quarantine at home.

If you do self-isolate, please email the relevant School office with details of which countries you or your relatives have travelled to and the date when you arrived back in Australia:

You can contact our School Nurse directly on [email protected] or 9286 9570 if needed. The School will continue to monitor the situation closely and respond to recommendations from NSW Health. Please see NSW Health details for more information


Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 28 January 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

In light of the most recent updates from the NSW Government issued tonight, we have revised our request regarding students and families who have been in China in the past two weeks.

The NSW Government has today requested that “children who have visited China in the last two weeks not attend school or childcare services until 14 days have lapsed from their date of departure from China.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said although the risk to children is very low, the NSW Government has taken this step as a precautionary measure.

“The internationally recognised incubation period for the coronavirus is 14 days, so this is the logical timeframe to ask students to refrain from attending school. After this time, there is no risk.

Any student who has visited China or Hong Kong in the last two weeks, must not attend St Andrew’s Cathedral School for 14 days after departure from China or Hong Kong.

Please contact the School Reception. This will be recorded as justified leave.

A Chinese translation of this letter will be sent out shortly.

We thank all of our families for their support at this extraordinary time.

Ms Rhonda Robson and Mr Brad Swibel
Deputy Heads of School

Return to on-site schooling in May

Where are we getting our advice from?
A managed return to school

The NSW Department of Education provided a four-phase return guideline, which we have referenced and then adapted to St Andrew’s Cathedral School’s particular circumstances.

How quickly we will move through these phases will depend upon Government and Health advice and COVID-19 transmission rates, and may be revised at any time.

From Monday, 25 May, the school enters Phase 3 and a full return to on-site learning will apply for students in all year groups. Remote learning will no longer be delivered.

Junior School overview
Phase 0 Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
28 April – 8 May 11 May – 15 May 18 May – 22 May 25 May TBC
Remote learning at home


Children of essential workers on-site

K-6 students at school at least 1 day per week



Y1-6 students at school
2 days per weekK students at school 4 x half days, only until 12.30pm
All K-6 students at school 5 days per week, extra activities still limited All K-6 students return to full on-site schooling with all activities resuming

Junior School details for Phase 3 from Monday, 25 May 2020

* The school day will be from 8.30am – 3pm

Junior School Phase 3 Student Days
Arrive at 8.30am for lessons commencing at 9am

3pm – finish time

  • Please note that there is a pupil-free day on Friday 5 June for all K–6 Junior School and Gawura School students.
Gawura School overview
Phase 0 Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
28 April – 8 May 11 May – 15 May 18 May – 22 May 25 May TBC
Remote learning at home


Children of essential workers on-site

All students at school 3 days per week



All students at school 4 days per week All students at school 5 days per week, extra activities still limited All students return to full on-site schooling with all activities resuming

Gawura School details for Phase 3 from Monday, 25 May 2020

* The school day will be 9am – 3pm

Gawura Phase 3 Student Days
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday All Gawura Students @ School
Secondary School overview
Phase 0 Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
28 April – 8 May 11 May  – 15 May 18 May – 22 May 26 May TBC
Remote learning at home


Children of essential workers on-site

Year 7-11 students at school at least 1 day per week


Year 12 at school 5 days per week

Year 7-11 students at school at least 2 days per week Students at school 5 days per week, extra activities still limited Return to full on-site schooling with all activities resuming

Secondary School details for Phase 3 from Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Normal timetable from 8.30am – 3.15pm

YEAR Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
ALL YEAR GROUPS 7–12 School closed, students at home (staff planning day) On-site  On-site  On-site  On-site
What are the key issues that are driving our planning?
  • All health advice received to date consistently states that schools are safe for students and that the possibility of community transmission within schools is low.
  • The greatest risk of transmission in the school environment is between adults. It is therefore of the utmost importance that staff and parents alike maintain social distancing and rigorous hygiene practices.
  • Whilst schools are exempt from social distancing requirements for students, we will attempt to maintain social distancing as far as it is practicable to do so, in enclosed, high-rise buildings.
  • Schools and teaching are relational. Social connectivity is paramount to learning and cannot be substituted nor effectively managed remotely. We know that our best teaching and learning happens in physical, relational, face-to-face classroom settings.

Precautionary measures

General measures
  • A strong regime of continuous cleaning procedures remain in place throughout the school, with antiseptic wiping of surfaces.
  • Soap and hand sanitiser will be widely available to students.
  • Staff will have supplies of antiseptic wipes to sterilise surfaces, should anyone cough or sneeze.
For students
  • Students must not attend school if feeling unwell. If flu-like symptoms develop (sore throat, high temperature etc.), a COVID-19 test is required.
  • The school is to be notified if any student has come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and they must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • We ask parents to stress to students, as indeed we will at school, that the COVID-19 crisis is not over and that even young people, for their own protection, should, as far as possible, continue to abide by reasonable social distancing rules. Particularly, they should be encouraged, to avoid the hugs and high fives that are so commonplace amongst young people. There will be a time for these signs of connection in due course, but that time is not now.
  • All students are encouraged to maintain excellent hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a tissue, place used tissues straight into the bin, avoid touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth and not share food or drink.
  • Water fountains will be open for refilling of water bottles only. Drinking from water fountains or bubblers will not be permitted
  • School excursions and Saturday sports competitions (and all co-curricular sport training) have been cancelled from 20 August 2020, however, co-curricular fencing and dance, which take place on-site, will continue. Small groups will be bussed to St Andrew’s College Oval and Wentworth Park Oval for PE classes in line with government restrictions on numbers.
  • Stairway traffic – Stairs will have directional signage to indicate one-way traffic (ie some stairs will be only for going up and some for going down).
  • Lifts – For Junior School students, lifts have maximum carrying capacities to ensure social distancing. Secondary school students will use Kent St stairs to enter St Andrew’s House until 8.30am and then may use school lifts as normal throughout the day. Students must not use lifts in BBC.
For parents and visitors
  • Parent lanyards have been suspended. Anyone needing to visit the school can only do so by appointment (including the Uniform Shop) and will need to sign a declaration that they have no Coronavirus symptoms, have not come into contact with a known case of COVID-19 and have not returned from overseas in the last 14 days.
  • Kiss and Drop – Parents are to remain in their cars. Staff will help students out of the car and into the school. If the Kiss and Drop is full, parents are asked to drive into Wilson’s Car Park, park and bring their child to the front door. There is no charge for 15 minutes or less. Place your ticket in the slot at the boom gate exit (don’t go to a ticket payment machine). For pick up, if the Kiss and Drop is full or your child is not ready, please drive around the block. Do not sit in your car at the Kiss and Drop for any longer than 2 minutes.
  • Enrolment interviews will continue to be conducted online and no Tours are currently running.
  • Teachers will maintain social distancing in staff rooms and common areas and where possible Support and Operational staff will work from home.

Chaplain's Daily Devotions

View All

Thursday 14 May

Video link:

Wednesday 13 May

Video link:

Tuesday 12 May: Chapel – The Chaplain with teachers in cars getting coffee – with Jess Gardiner

Video link:

Monday 11 May

Video link:

Friday 8 May

Video link:

Thursday 7 May

Video link:

Wednesday 6 May

Video link:

Tuesday 5 May Chapel: Chaplain in cars with teachers getting coffee – with Mr Milas

Video link:

Monday 4 May

Video link:

Friday 1 May

Video link:

Thursday 30 April (The Lord’s Prayer)

Video link:

Wednesday 29 April

Video link:

Anzac Day service

Video link:

Wednesday 8 April

Video link:

Chapel: Chaplain in cars with teachers getting coffee – with Mrs Burgess

Video link:

Friday 3 April

Video link:

Thursday 2 April

Video link:

Wednesday 1 April

Video link:

Chapel: Chaplain in cars with teachers getting coffee – with Mr McKendrick

Video link:

Tuesday 31 March

Video link:

Monday 30 March

Video link:

Friday 27 March

Video link:

Thursday 26 March

Video link: