Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for schools and students

All governments recognise the importance of education and are committed to supporting the continuity of students’ learning throughout the response to COVID-19.

On this page:

This page contains information for students, families, schools, and education authorities.

National Code for Boarding School Students

National Cabinet has endorsed the “National Code for Boarding School Students”.

This Code will deliver a national approach to support the travel needs of boarding school students during COVID-19 lockdowns.

View the National Code.

In endorsing the Code, states and territories have committed to a nationally consistent, COVID-safe approach to intrastate and cross-border movement for boarding students, and their families and carers.

Jurisdictions will be responsible for implementing the Code in line with relevant health advice.

The Australian Government has worked closely with stakeholders to understand this issue and develop more workable and compassionate arrangements. The Code was considered by the Education Ministers Meeting and subsequently the Australian Health Protection Principals Committee (AHPPC) in early September 2020. Chief Health Officers in jursidictions were briefed on the principles and issues facing this cohort.

This Code will support the nation’s 23,000 boarding students, particularly those who travel interstate for their schooling, as well as their families.

The National Cabinet agreement will help reunite families and ensures the safety and wellbeing of boarding school children, and their families and carers.

Emerging Priorities Program

Under the Students Support Package, the Australian Government is providing $16.5 million over four years (2021–22 to 2024–25) for the Emerging Priorities Program (the program).

The Emerging Priorities Program Guidelines includes information on the program. Further details regarding the application process will be available during the second half of 2021.

The program aims to support rapid and flexible responses to emerging school education priorities, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Priority areas for funding are:

  • improved educational outcomes for school students.
  • engagement of school students and their families with school education
  • wellbeing of school leaders, teachers, and school students

Research evidence for priority areas for funding

In 2020 the Government commissioned six pieces of research to examine the potential impact of remote learning from home on educational outcomes for vulnerable cohorts of children, and barriers to access and evidence-based actions to respond. This research has informed the priority areas for the program.

Reducing potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools

On 24 April 2020, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) released health advice in relation to reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. This practical guidance and advice has been prepared for school leaders engaging with children, parents, teachers and support staff to reduce even further the relatively low risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This updated advice supersedes the advice issued on 16 April 2020.

You can read more on the Department of Health’s website.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has developed a series of posters with information and tips for school staff, high school and secondary school students, and primary school students on how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. The posters may be downloaded and printed for use in schools. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Help stop the spread – resource for teachers and school staff

Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Help stop the spread – resource for primary school students

Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Help stop the spread – resources for high school and secondary school students

Resources for teachers and school leaders

The department has collated a series of resources that may be useful for teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find these on the Resources for teachers and school leaders page. 

New Research

The Australian Government commissioned six pieces of research to examine the potential impact of remote learning from home on educational outcomes for vulnerable cohorts of children, and barriers to access and evidence-based actions to respond.

National Principles for School Education

On 16 April 2020, the National Cabinet agreed to a set of National Principles for School Education to support the ongoing delivery of high quality education for all students during COVID-19, enable students to progress through their year level, and support a successful transition to 2021.

State and Territory Governments and non-government sector authorities are responsible for managing and making operational decisions for their schools. Decisions regarding the response to COVID-19 in the schooling sector must continue to be informed by expert, official, national and state-based public health and education advice, consistent with these national principles.

Support for students with disability

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that every student, including students with disability, have access to education in a sustainable and effective manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advice is available for schools and parents to ensure students continue to receive reasonable adjustments. Guidance and resources are also available to assist with learning at home.

COVID-19 support available to non-government schools

The Government is providing assistance of up to $100,000 to help eligible small and medium sized businesses and not-for profit organisations with their cash flow so they can keep operating. 

Early Access to Recurrent Funding

The Government will also bring forward the July 2020 recurrent school funding payment for non-government schools that were providing a physical learning environment for students from the commencement of Term 2, 2020 and at 2 May had a plan to be open and delivering education in a standard classroom setting by 1 June 2020. Non-government schools can find out more about this by visiting the Schools Hub. Families should continue to talk with their school about operational matters.

Special Circumstances – School Hygiene Assistance Fund

To help ensure non-government schools can put appropriate hygiene measures in place, the Australian Government will provide an additional $10 million to improve COVID-19 hygiene measures in non-government schools that plan to have 50 per cent of their students back in the classroom by 1 June 2020. Special Circumstances funding will to help offset hygiene costs for items such as soap, hand sanitiser, classroom cleaning products and additional cleaning that may be required.

More information is available on the Special Circumstances - school hygiene assistance page.

Senior secondary arrangements and university admissions

On 7 April 2020 the Education Council met by teleconference to discuss options for senior secondary arrangements and university admissions. The council agreed that students will be able to achieve a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education this year, and that certificate will facilitate access to university, further education and employment. For more information read the Council’s Communique.

On 10 June 2020 Education Council announced a nationally consistent set of messages to ensure all current year 12 students, their families, and teachers across Australia can clearly understand university admission processes for 2021.The messaging assures students they will be able to complete their senior secondary certificate of education in 2020 as well as receive an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR)

States and territories and higher education institutions have made a number of adjustments to take into account the impact of COVID-19 on students. More information is available in the statement on the Education Council website.

Information about NAPLAN

Education Ministers met on 20 March 2020 and decided that NAPLAN will not proceed in 2020. The NAPLAN test window was scheduled to be held from 12 to 22 May.

The decision to not proceed with NAPLAN in 2020 has been taken to assist school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education, including potential online and remote learning. Further, the impact of responses to the COVID-19 virus may affect the delivery of NAPLAN testing, including the operation of centralised marking centres and the implications for nationally comparable data if an insufficient number of students are available to do the test.

Further detail regarding this decision is available.

International students

Designated state authorities and school providers can find more information about accommodating international students, including flexible course delivery, in the Coronavirus regulatory information for DSAs and school providers fact sheet.

This page contains information for students, schools, designated state authorities and school providers. For the latest advice relevant to the education sector from Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) please visit the Department of Health’s website.  For more information please view the International students page.