COVID-19 Excursion Protocols, Guidelines & Checklists Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

What are the COVID-19 Excursion Protocols?

The National Capital Educational Tourism Project (NCETP), with the support of the ACT Government, commissioned Aspen Medical to develop School Excursion COVID-19 Protocols in collaboration with the sector, for the purpose of reactivating safe local and interstate school excursions.

When were the Protocols approved?

The Protocols were approved by the ACT Health Directorate in December 2020.

What are the COVID-19 Excursion Guidelines?

The Guidelines are a user-friendly version of the Protocols.

They contain the core elements of the Protocols, but don’t include information that is not useful to Accommodation Providers, Parents/Guardians/Carers, Teachers and Tour Organisers.

Who endorses the Guidelines?

The Guidelines are endorsed by ACT Health.

What sources are cited in the Guidelines?

The Guidelines contain advice and recommendations issued by:

  • Healthdirect Australia.
  • The ACT Government.
  • The Australian Government Department of Health.
  • The Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Communications.
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
  • The Centres for Disease Control & Prevention.
  • The World Health Organization.

Why do school children have to travel as a cohort?

Maintaining separate cohorts during travel and excursion activities mitigates the risk of COVID-19 transmission into the broader community, and allows for easier contact tracing in the event that a person on an excursion contracts COVID-19.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is defined as a group of people with shared characteristics.

How should a cohort travel when on an excursion?

Movement of a cohort during an excursion could, for instance, take the form of:

  1. 2 x classes (~ 50 children) plus adults, transported as by coach to a venue where they are not required to maintain physical distancing within their cohort, but are required to practice physical distancing from other cohort groups and the public.
  2. Precautionary measures such as designated toilets and eating areas should be considered to ensure the cohort doesn’t mix with other cohort groups at a venue.
  3. The return journey should consist of the original cohort on board the same coach, with the same driver used to transport the group to the venue.

What is a Personal Health Declaration?

Prior to a child attending an excursion a Personal Health Declaration (PHD) must be completed by a child's Parent/Guardian/Carer, which includes a declaration of the current health status of the child.

The PHD also requires the Parent/Guardian/Carer of the child to declare if they are coming from an area that has been deemed a hotspot by the State/Territory in which they reside.

The PHD can be submitted any time in the period 24 hours before the excursion begins.

Part of the PHD includes granting permission in circumstances of Public Health Unit (PHU) engagement, for a child to undergo testing for COVID-19 in accordance with PHU directives and State/Territory management guidelines, under the supervision of an accompanying Teacher.

All PHDs and the information they contain are to be collected and managed by the child’s school in accordance with privacy requirements.

Do Teachers and other adults have to complete Personal Health Declarations?

Personal Health Declarations have to be completed for any child under 16.

People over 16 must sign into Canberra venues using the Check In CBR App or another approved method.

Can people who are not Teachers accompany a school excursion?

Transmission of COVID-19 between children and from children to adults is uncommon, however adults who have not been specifically requested to fulfil a necessary function/role – e.g. part of a mandatory adult: student ratio, or an essential carer to a student – should be excluded from the excursion to minimise risk.

How does the BCE system contact Tour Organisers and Teachers prior to an excursion?

Automatic excursion email reminders to Tour Organisers are generated 3 months, 6 weeks and 3 weeks prior to scheduled Canberra arrivals.

Automatic excursion email reminders to On-the-Day Teachers are generated 3 months and 3 weeks prior to scheduled Canberra arrivals.

Nominated On-the-Day Teachers are sent an email 23 days before an excursion starts, to confirm their email address is correct.

On-the-Day Teachers are sent an email 5 days before an excursion starts, containing a link to a declaration form which requires them to agree to undertake a number of COVID-safe actions.

On-the-Day Teachers are sent text messages to nominated mobile phones, to aid administration of excursions.

TOUR ORGANISERS

Why is the BCE system contacting Teachers prior to excursions?

Information about the process for managing Personal Health Declarations is sent to On-the-Day Teachers, from 3 months before a Trip begins.

For privacy reasons it is important that Teachers only are involved in this process.

The BCE National Attractions – Terms & Conditions state:

A 3rd party making bookings on behalf of a school must:

  • provide a valid school email address when submitting bookings, and ensure this address is updated to a Teacher’s email address at least 4 months prior to an excursion’s start date
  • provide a valid school mobile number when submitting bookings, and ensure this number is updated to a Teacher’s number at least 1 month prior to an excursion’s start date.

I supply the email address given by the school, so we may have an ‘admin’ address; why is this an issue?

The On-the-Day Teacher can change close to a school’s excursion, but it is important we are able to contact Teachers from 3 months before an excursion starts, so they receive information they need to distribute to Parents/Guardians/Carers related to Personal Health Declarations (PHDs).

The main objections related to PHDs has been a lack of forewarning of the need for these to be completed for each student.

The issue with ‘admin’ email addresses is that emails sent to these addresses from the BCE system are often not actioned.

Tour Operators may have to impress on schools that if they do not supply information needed in the timeframes needed they will be putting their excursions at risk.

What happens if I don’t update On-the-Day Teacher details for existing bookings?

Tour Organisers who do not provide On-the-Day Teacher contact details in a timely manner may have their Trips and/or Bookings cancelled.

What should I do if I don’t know On-the-Day Teacher details when I’m making a new booking?

It is not expected that On-the-Day Teacher contact details will be known at the time of all new bookings.

Tour Organisers who do not know On-the-Day Teacher contact details at the time of booking should provide valid generic school details.

  • An individualised On-the-Day Teacher email address must be supplied 4 months prior to an excursion’s start date.
  • A valid On-the-Day Teacher mobile phone number must be supplied 1 month prior to an excursion’s start date.

TEACHERS

Why is the BCE system contacting Teachers prior to excursions?

Information about the process for managing Personal Health Declarations is sent to On-the-Day Teachers, from 3 months before a Trip begins.

For privacy reasons it is important that Teachers only are involved in this process.

The BCE National Attractions – Terms & Conditions state:

A school staff member making bookings on behalf of a school must:

  • provide a valid school email address when submitting bookings, and ensure this address is updated to a Teacher’s email address at least 4 months prior to an excursion’s start date
  • provide a valid school mobile number when submitting bookings, and ensure this number is updated to a Teacher’s number at least 1 month prior to an excursion’s start date.

What happens if I don’t submit an On-the-Day Teacher’s COVIDsafe Declaration?

On-the-Day Teachers who do not submit an On-the-Day Teacher’s COVIDsafe Declaration may have their Trips and/or Bookings cancelled.

Must Canberra Region schools supply Personal Health Declarations for students on excursions to Canberra attractions?

Canberra Region school students do not have to have a Personal Health Declaration completed on their behalf if their excursion does not include an overnight stay, as long at the On-the-Day Teacher accompanying an excursion commits to:

  • Communicating as necessary with other Teachers on the excursion, who may be supervising cohorts visiting attractions.
  • Not allowing anyone to participate in the excursion if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, are coming from a hotspot, or have visited an exposure site during a designated exposure period.

How is the Canberra Region defined?

The Canberra Region boundary is defined as a radius 72 kilometres from the Canberra General Post Office, as this is the distance from the GPO to the southernmost tip of the ACT border.

The Canberra Region includes all localities with an ACT postcode, as well as postcodes 2580, 2581, 2582, 2611, 2618, 2619, 2620, 2621, 2622, 2623 and 2720.

Why is the BCE system sending me emails and SMS texts prior to excursions?

Information about the process for managing Personal Health Declarations (PHDs) will be sent to On-the-Day Teachers, from 3 months before a Trip begins.

This gives plenty of time for Teachers to contact Parents/Guardians/Carers to make them aware of the PHD process.

For privacy reasons it is important that Teachers only are involved in this process.

Do I have to show Personal Health Declaration forms every place we visit?

You don’t have to show the forms anywhere.

The forms are important as they are declarations of the health of children when an excursion commences, and they give consent for COVID-19 testing if that is necessary, however for privacy reasons only the On-the-Day Teacher should have access to submitted forms.

How long should Teachers hold completed Personal Health Declaration forms after an excursion is finished?

Teachers do not have to retain Personal Health Declaration forms after an excursion is finished.

How long should schools hold records of the composition of  cohorts after an excursion is finished?

Information regarding the composition of a cohort as it moves through Canberra should be stored by schools for 28 days, in accordance with ACT Health policy.

PARENTS/GUARDIANS/CARERS

How do I submit a Personal Health Declaration to a Teacher?

The easiest and most secure way to submit a Personal Health Declaration to a Teacher is to click the link to the online form that the Teacher should send you in an email.

You can alternatively fill in a PDF and email that to the Teacher by following the following instructions.

To fill in the Personal Health Declaration PDF form on an Apple device:

  1. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  2. Click the link to the Personal Health Declaration PDF form – available at the BCE Help Documents page or linked to from within an email you have received.
  3. Click ‘OPEN IN…’ at the bottom right of the screen.
  4. Click ‘Import to Acrobat’.
  5. Click ‘Import to Acrobat’ again.
  6. Fill in the form.
  7. When you are finished filling in the form click the 'Upload' symbol – at the top right of your screen.
  8. Click ‘Share a copy’.
  9. Click ‘Mail’.
  10. Put the On-the-Day Teacher’s email address in the ‘To:’ field.
  11. Send the email.