THE Mid North Coast has recorded 114 days without a new COVID-19 case, but school rules continue to tighten with formals and graduation ceremonies not permitted.
The Mid North Coast Health District has conducted more than 33,000 COVID-19 tests since February.
While the region has managed to avoid a second outbreak of the virus, health authorities say while ever people are free to move around the state and there are hot spot breakouts, the threat of infection is ever-present.
Director of the North Coast Public Health Unit, Paul Corben, urges people to take physical distancing and good hygiene practices seriously. They are the key measures as a community that can help control the spread of the virus which has claimed 421 lives nationwide and shutdown the state of Victoria.
As of August 18, 23,599 positive cases have been recorded in Australia - more than 17,000 of those in Victoria.
The first case reported on the Mid North Coast was in March when a 14-year-old student from St Columba Anglican School tested positive for the virus.
Of the 50 cases that followed, most were travellers returning to the Mid North Coast from overseas. By the end of May, all 49 patients who tested positive had recovered.
One person in Port Macquarie, a 91-year-old man who was a return passenger from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, died from the infection.
"It's way too early for anybody to be feeling comfortable about COVID," Mr Corben said.
"What our contact tracing highlights is just how mobile people are. You can be in one part of Sydney in the morning and you can be up on the Mid North Coast in the afternoon and be unwittingly infected with the virus and share that around."
Updated health advice aims to ensure NSW schools can continue to operate full time with face to face teaching and learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools remain safe, however, school communities must remain vigilant, a Department of Education spokesperson said.
From Wednesday, August 19, all public schools in New South Wales will be required to adopt the changes to ensure school communities remain safe inside and outside the school gate.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 is prohibited from returning to school until a negative test result has been reported.
Under additional measures for term 3:
- Students must remain within their relevant class or year group to limit mixing
- Schools must not travel outside their local community or zone, including between rural and regional areas
- Interschool sport and zone carnivals are restricted to 100 people per venue and must be held in the local area
- Spectators, including parents and carers, are not permitted within school grounds or at sporting events held during school hours
- All group singing and or other chanting activities, as well as the use of wind instruments in group settings are not permitted
- Dance activities and drama group work can continue under a COVID-19 Safety Plan
- School formals, dances, graduation or other social events are not permitted. Schools may hold a Year 12 assembly at school without parents to recognise the completion of school or consider delaying events until later in the year.
Students and staff required to support HSC students are permitted to undertake activities to meet their HSC requirements with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
Organisations that use school buildings or grounds must have a COVID-19 safety plan in place and encourage strict compliance with that plan.
The new restrictions will complement existing health advice for schools, including maintaining good hand hygiene inside and outside the classroom, physical distancing for adults and banning non-essential school visitors.