Since the NSW Government issued its Public Health (COVID-19 Mandatory Face Coverings) Order on 2 January 2021, there may have been some confusion as to whether children over 12 years old and staff across NSW's early childhood education and care (ECEC) services were required or exempt from wearing facemasks.
This confusion arises from:
- the Public Health Order's Part 2, Clause 5(1)(a);
- the Public Health Order's Part 2, Clause 5(3);
- the Public Health Order's absence of an overt exemption for ECEC services as has been the case in other NSW Public Health Orders; and
- (anecdotal) advice from Service NSW's COVID-19 advice line.
Thanks to the NSW Department of Education, their statement distributed on 4 January 2021 clarified that the following people are NOT required to wear facemasks while education and care are being provided:
- children under 12 years old; and
- educators and staff.
NOTE: Children aged 12 years or under are exempt
under the Public Health Order (see Part 2, Clause 5(5)(a)).
That said, given the concerns about community transmission in relation to COVID-19, services continue to have the obligation under Regulation 88 - Infectious Diseases requirements to consider the risk(s) and exercise their discretion on using facemasks (and other measures) should that be appropriate to do so for the safety of children, staff, parents and their local communities.
Should members require any further information/clarification, please do not hesitate to contact email@example.com or 1300 556 330 (when the Australian Childcare Alliance NSW office reopens on 11 January 2021 onwards).
PUBLISHED: 6 JANUARY 2021