The Hunter has recorded two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the regions total to 170 cases since August 5.

The two new cases are in Cessnock and Port Stephens. One in Kurri Kurri who was infectious in the community. The other is from Tomago but was infected at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and remains there. The Tomago case is not a risk to the community.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro warned on Thursday afternoon that he already know of some new COVID cases in the Hunter. The news came after the region recorded its first day of zero cases.

Statewide, NSW recorded 882 cases statewide, a welcome drop from the record 1029 cases recorded on Thursday.

A new exposure site was added overnight in Windale. Anyone who attended the Windale Takeaway on Lake Street on Saturday 21 August from 5:35pm – 5:45pm is considered a casual contact and must get tested and isolate until a negative result is received.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the details of a plan to for school students to return to the class room as well as a new date for the HSC.

It follows an announcement on Friday morning from the Prime Minister that children aged 12 to 15 will be able to book in for a Pfizer vaccination from September 13 following a recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

Vaccinations will be mandatory for all school staff across all sectors will be mandatory from 8 November.

A staggered return of students to face-to-face learning will begin on Monday 25 October. 

Kindergarten and Year one will return from 25 October, Years two, six and eleven from 1 November and Years three, four, five, seven, eight, nine and ten from 8 November.

Year 12 students are already able to return in a limited way and this will continue for the remainder of Term 3. From 25 October, Year 12 will have full time access to school campuses and their teachers.

If stay at home orders are lifted in an LGA or region before 25 October, all students living or learning in that area will return to face to face learning under the Department’s COVID-safe schools framework.

HSC exams will be delayed until 9 November with a revised timetable and guidelines for a COVID-safe HSC to be released by NESA in early September. The delay of the HSC exams will not disadvantage NSW students when applying to university.