Sporting and other extra-curricular activities for children around the country are being cancelled in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all gatherings over 500 people should be cancelled or postponed as of today, however schools and universities would continue to operate as normal.

Although face-to-face classes will go ahead this week, there are some changes being implemented to protect school communities from the COVID-19 virus.

The secretary of the NSW Department of Education, Mark Scott, said excursions, assemblies, travel, concerts and other events would be cancelled to limit exposure.

"Schools have been a focus of the community and the government as the impacts of the coronavirus have developed globally," Scott said.

"From Monday onwards I expect assemblies and substantial gatherings to be cancelled, along with all excursions.

"Local inter-school sport and other activities can proceed but we ask organisers to ensure that as far as possible, reasonable precautions are taken.

"I trust our principals and staff to show leadership during this time."

As part of the new safety measures, all interschool arts and sports events involving three or more schools have also been cancelled, as have any overseas school excursions.

State governments have advised schools to encourage and practice social distancing to avoid further spread of the virus,

According to the NSW government website, social distancing includes practices such as avoiding crowds, gatherings in enclosed spaces, keeping a 1.5 metre distance between yourself and the next person and avoiding physical contact such as kissing, shaking hands or hugging. 

READ MORE: Schools face unprecedented challenge due to COVID-19

Members of the public have been warned to exercise social distancing at public pools.

For some parents, the measures taken to reduce the risk of infection between their children at school are too little too late.

NSW Premier Gladeys Berejiklian has said schools would be temporarily closed is a student tested positive, and would remain that way until it was safe for them to reopen.

"What is really critical is school is essential, it is safe to go to school and it is not, we will shut down that particular school and work with the school community to reopen at the appropriate time," she said.

Popular co-curricular and sporting programs run outside of schools are likely to be cancelled as well with Little Athletics cancelling its major competitions in coming weeks. 

"It is regrettable that circumstances in respect of the coronavirus pandemic have led to this recommendation, and while we understand its impacts, we believe that, given the circumstances and the rate of pace of change, this is the appropriate course of action for now," a statement said on their website.

"The health of everyone is our priority. We want to do our best to promote the safety of all families involved in Little Athletics at all levels. We understand these things are disappointing."

Little Athletics competitions have been cancelled.

Athletics Australia has also cancelled the Australian Junior Track and Field Championships and postponed the Australian Senior Track and Field Championships to a yet-to-be-determined date.

"We are all deeply distressed to have to make this decision and understand the impact this will have on our athletics community," Athletics Australia president Mark Arbib said.

"We must put the health and safety of our athletes, officials, staff, volunteers and spectators at the forefront of all decision making."

With many children also involved in swimming lessons, many parents are wondering whether it is safe to take their children to public pools.

There is so far no evidence to suggest COVID-19 can travel through water, particularly with the high levels of chlorine present in pool water.

Public pools remain operational however practicing social distancing has been advised in environments such as pools, gyms and other public areas.

Source: 9News