COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2) has been declared to be a notifiable disease/condition under the relevant public health legislation nationally and in each state and territory.
The College will respond to a diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 case connected to the College. This includes situations such as:
- A ‘close contact’ of a member of the broader College community suspected of having, or diagnosed with, COVID-19;
- A member of the broader College community suspected of having, or diagnosed with, COVID-19;
- A ‘close contact’ of a student or staff member suspected of having, or diagnosed with, COVID-19 and that student or staff member has been on-site at the College; or
- A student or staff member who has been on-site at the College is suspected of having COVID-19, or is diagnosed with COVID-19.
In some cases where a ‘close contact’ of a member of the broader College community is suspected of having COVID-19, it may be appropriate for the College to formulate some form of response if only to allay any concerns within the College community.
If the College becomes aware of people within the community who suspect that they may have COVID-19 (e.g. display flu-like symptoms and/or may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19) and have not sought testing or other medical advice, we will encourage them to do so immediately and self-isolate. Similarly, if the College becomes aware of an individual within the community who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or a ‘close contact’ of somebody who is, we will seek advice from the WA Department of Health (13 COVID (13 26843)).
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and State privacy laws relating to health information apply to protect the identity of a person with COVID-19.
The College will collect information from employees or visitors in relation to COVID-19 where it is reasonably necessary for preventing or managing COVID-19.
The College will inform staff that a colleague or visitor has, or may have contracted, COVID-19. The College will only use or disclose personal information that is reasonably necessary in order to prevent or manage COVID-19 in the workplace.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s website has further information on compliance with applicable privacy requirements.
Critical Incident Response Process
As per the College Critical Incident Policy, that provides a framework for a response to an actual or potential COVID-19 outbreak, the following procedures will be followed:
- Initial information gathering
- Risk evaluation and assessment
- Assignment of tasks to designated team members
- Initiating physical response processes
- Activating communication strategy
- Commencing recovery processes
Each of these is addressed below in the context of an actual or potential COVID-19 outbreak, however the College will act in accordance with advice from the WA Department of Health.
Initial information gathering
In the event of a confirmed positive test, the WA Department of Health will contact the College as part of the contact-tracing procedures. In this situation the College will have certainty in relation to the diagnosis and a range of dates during which the person was infectious to allow risk evaluation and assessment to be undertaken.
Where the initial information comes to the College via other sources advising a student, staff member, or broader College community member is suspected of having COVID-19 or is diagnosed with COVID-19, the College will gather further relevant information. This will include details addressing:
- Why does the person concerned suspect they have COVID-19?
- Whether they have been tested and the status of that test
- Whether they are experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19
- If they have been contacted by the WA Health Department as part of contact tracing for another COVID-19 case
- The applicable dates of tests/ feeling symptomatic
- Whether the person has been onsite at the College and if so when
- If they have been in ‘close contact’ with students or staff and if so when
Once enough information is obtained and advice is sought from the WA Health Department, an initial risk assessment will be undertaken.
Risk evaluation and assessment
The initial risk evaluation and assessment will focus on the steps necessary for the College to ensure the physical safety of students, staff and others who may be on the College campus. Particular consideration will be given to ensure the safety of any staff or others in a “vulnerable” category.
Assignment of tasks to designated team members
Responding in accordance with the Critical Incident Policy the roles of key members of the College leadership will be identified in a broad sense and adjusted to accommodate the particular circumstances the College is facing. Cleaning and asset management issues would tend to fall to the Business Manager. Pastoral Care team leaders would tend to focus on supporting students and families in any response, while Curriculum Leaders can address the provision of educational resources in the event of a closure, and the Principal will generally be the Coordinator and spokesperson for the College.
Initiating physical response processes
The key decision to a potential COVID-19 outbreak is whether the College should close or not.
While this generally remains a decision for the College to make, the WA Department of Health would normally make an assessment and provide advice on what action is recommended to address the health issues involved. In general, the closure of the College would be undertaken:
- To allow deep cleaning in the event that a person diagnosed with COVID-19 was onsite while infectious, or
- While contact tracing is underway to reduce the potential for further infection by identified contacts.
As suggested above, the simple overriding advice is to act in accordance with the advice from the WA Department of Health. The College may take a more cautious or conservative approach if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the community.
Activating communication strategy
The College will ensure that the community is kept informed. The media and other external stakeholders, while important, remain a secondary consideration.
Within the constraints of the privacy legislation noted above, the aim of the communication to the College community is to:
- Provide the basic facts of what has occurred
- Outline the College’s response
- Convey the basis for the College’s decisions
- Address fears/concerns
- Describe the next steps
- Indicate avenues for further information
Commencing recovery processes
The applicable recovery processes will depend upon the prior responses of the College. Closure for deep cleaning will require the necessary cleaning to be undertaken, to the AHPPC standards.
In case of College closure, students will be transitioned to online learning until it is safe to return to class.
|SARS-CoV-2||Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The formal name of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, previously commonly known as ‘novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV)|
|COVID-19||Coronavirus disease 2019. The name of the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, as agreed by the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.|
1. Face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed or probable case, for greater than 15 minutes, cumulative over the course of a week, in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case, or
2. Sharing of a closed space with a confirmed or probable case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.
For the purposes of surveillance, a close contact includes a person meeting any of the following criteria:
· Living in the same household or household-like setting (e.g. in a boarding school or hostel) – referred to as ‘household contacts’.
· A person who spent 2 hours or longer in the same room (such as a school classroom)