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Crackdown on large in-school gatherings in attempt to slow COVID spread in WA

Schools in WA have been told to follow a new set of guidelines, placing limits on assembly and other events where students and staff gather in large groups.

The updated advice was issued by the Chief Health Officer to school principals this morning and then published by the government this afternoon.

The aim of the new guidelines is to minimise the number of students or staff impacted when a positive case of COVID-19 is detected in a school.

It comes after hundreds of students and dozens of staff at Perth schools were directed to self-quarantine for 14 days after cases were reported at several schools this week.

And a spokesman for SEDA College in Wembley announced there had been a case of COVID-19 detected at the school on Friday, and the college now was working with WA Health.

The school year began on Monday and coincided with an ongoing community transmission of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in WA.

WA Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson has detailed the new advice to schools on large gatherings.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

The new advice sets out that in-school gatherings should be restricted to class groups or small groups within a year level.

Suggested events that could safely be conducted include:

  • Class-based assembly or small group assembly within a year group
  • Online staff meetings
  • Staff collaborative planning via online or in learning area teams
  • Having staff lunch breaks in learning area facilities wherever possible

At this point infrequent special events are allowed to go ahead in line with health advice, such as interschool carnivals, camps, and school balls.

It comes on top of a number of measures implemented before the school year began.

Those have included:

  • Mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for staff
  • A ventilation strategy for all classrooms
  • Mandatory mask wearing for staff and for students in Year 7 and above in Perth, Peel, the South West, the Wheatbelt and the Great Southern
  • Enhanced cleaning of schools
  • A plan to introduce mask wearing for students in Year 3 and above when higher community caseloads are reached

Among the cases in Perth schools this week was a Year 7 student at Corpus Christi College in Bateman which was detected today.

It is not yet clear how many students and staff are close contacts of the student.

A school assembly
A COVID case was detected at Corpus Christi College, which held a whole school assembly earlier this week.(Facebook)

It comes after a Year 11 student tested positive on Wednesday leading to almost 200 of their classmates being directed to self-quarantine for two weeks.

On Tuesday, Corpus Christi College held a whole of college assembly with students and staff from every year group, kindergarten to Year 12, gathering under the same roof.

There were 18 new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 recorded in WA today.

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