Return of SRE/SEE

Updated 20 January 2021

Advice regarding the return of special religious education (SRE) and special education in ethics (SEE)

Schools and approved providers of SRE and SEE were advised on 11 June 2020 that SRE/SEE lessons can resume from the beginning of Term 3, 2020. All SRE/SEE lessons were to resume before the end of Week 3.

SRE/SEE is continuing in Term 1, 2021.

SRE/SEE classes are to be held for no longer than one hour. Classes should take place in a suitably sized room or outdoors. There is currently no limit on class sizes.

Where possible, students participating in these activities should remain within their relevant cohort (i.e. class, year group or stage) to limit the mixing of students between cohort groups.

Singing and/or chanting activities should be avoided.

Only one SRE/SEE teacher per class of 30 students. No observers/helpers are permitted at this time.

Approved providers of SRE/SEE are not required to have a COVID-19 safety plan to enter schools. SRE/SEE teachers should deliver SRE/SEE as efficiently and safely as possible.

Responsibilities of approved providers

Before contacting schools, providers need to ensure all SRE/SEE teachers:

  • comply with the AHPPC guidelines and the NSW Health Public Health Orders for COVID-19
  • understand the requirement to comply with the department’s infection control and physical distancing requirements while they are delivering services in a school
  • complete the External visitors to school site form (PDF 183KB) for each visit to a school when they sign-in
  • understand the content areas of the curriculum to be addressed at the point of return, such as at which lesson in the scope and sequence do they start teaching.

Providers should:

  • have the capacity to resume SRE/SEE classes which includes having a plan in place if SRE/SEE teachers are unavailable to attend a school due to cold/flu-like symptom. Any SRE/SEE teacher that develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19, even if mild, must not attend school and should be tested for COVID-19.
  • provide a revised authorisation letter to the school for any new SRE/SEE teacher, including casual/relief teachers, ensuring they have a working with children check clearance and have completed initial training.
  • have arrangements in place within their own organisation to determine if a person can continue to work if they are at risk of developing severe illness in accordance with Health advice.

Once these requirements can be met they can contact the school and confirm their ability to resume services and schedule a meeting to recommence SRE/SEE services.

Responsibilities of schools

Schools must ensure that an External visitors to school site form is completed by SRE/SEE teachers on each visit. This needs to be provided when they sign in and prior to commencing lessons. Schools will expect the provider to have a plan to advise in advance when a teacher will be absent and know who will replace the teacher to minimise disruption to the school. Schools also need to have a plan in place if SRE/SEE teachers are unavailable to attend a school due to cold/flu-like symptoms.

Schools are not required to assess if a person meets the vulnerable category under NSW Health advice for SRE/SEE as this is the responsibility of the approved provider through their own processes.

If any SRE/SEE classes are not able to resume, schools may consider the following options in consultation with approved providers of SRE/SEE:

  • If there are no SRE/SEE teachers from any approved provider for a year/stage, that year/stage can continue normal classwork while the other years/stages participate in SRE/SEE.
  • If an SRE/SEE teacher is not available from a particular approved provider but there are teachers from other approved providers
    • students without an SRE/SEE teacher remain with their classroom teacher and complete alternative meaningful activities
    • the approved providers learning from home lessons are not to be used in the absence of an SRE/SEE teacher
    • schools negotiate the combination of classes from the same approved provider if the content is age-appropriate
    • schools negotiate the temporary change to the timing of SRE/SEE, for example, split SRE/SEE time for different stages.
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