Live: NSW Now: 65,000 students to sit HSC exams after COVID-19 delays

Here's what you need to know this morning.

COVID-safe HSC for class of 2021

empty desks inside a classroom
The HSC exams run for four weeks until Friday, December 3.(ABC News)

More than 65,000 New South Wales year 12 students will sit the HSC written exams from today after two years of COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns.

The English paper kicks off the four-week exam period that was slated for October but pushed back due to the Delta outbreak.

Staff and students are required to follow strict COVID-safe protocols, which include the wearing of masks inside and outside the exam room, the screening of students for flu-like symptoms and practising social distancing.

NSW Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell recognised it had been a challenging year but said the rules would keep students safe.

"These are all very important elements to make sure that as many students as possible can sit each and every one of their exams without disruption," she said.

She also wished them well.

"Just do your best. You've already worked so hard and been through so much this year and I think shown resilience and wisdom that you don't even recognise in yourself."

Students will receive their ATARs next year on January 20, with their HSC results released on January 24.

No free rides on replacement buses

a man pointing at a crack on the floor and a bus driver
Cracks were found in all 12 vehicles of the Central to Dulwich Hill light rail service.(Supplied)

Premier Dominic Perrottet has rejected calls for replacement buses to be free on the suspended inner-west light rail line.

On Friday, Minister for Transport Rob Stokes announced the line would be "decommissioned" for up to 18 months after cracks were found in all 12 vehicles during routine maintenance checks last month.

The opposition transport spokesperson, Jo Haylen, said the replacement service wasn't a like-for-like replacement.

"These buses take almost double the time to get from A to B," she said.

"The least that the government can do here is make sure that passengers don't have to pay for that inferior service."

However, Mr Perrottet said people should pay their fair share to use the public transport network.

"What I'm more focused on is that any inconvenience is minimised during this period," he said.

"This is a challenge for our state, we want to make sure the taxpayers of New South Wales are not worse off as a result."

Long wait for COVID grants 

four empty taxis parked on a grass area
Many small businesses, sole traders and not-for-profits relying on COVID grants have not been paid for a month.(ABC News: Lydia Feng)

Delays to COVID-19 micro-business grants could see some people living without an income for up to six weeks.

Small businesses, sole traders and not-for-profits impacted by the lockdown have been relying on a $1,500 fortnightly grant in New South Wales.

However, many haven't been paid for a month and have been told they'll need to wait another two weeks.

David Stewart, a taxi driver who lives near the New South Wales – Queensland border, said he wasn't told his payment would be delayed.

"It's tough. When you have the rug pulled out from underneath you because of a lockdown, that's what the support is all about, to keep a roof over your head, the lights on and food on your table," he said.

"How do you do that if there's no cash flow?"

Service NSW said the delay was caused by an influx of applications ahead of the October 18 deadline.

"Service New South Wales apologises for the delay in progressing COVID-19 Micro-Business Grant payments," a spokeswoman said.

"Teams are working to progress pending applications and payments as quickly as possible."

Funeral health alert

A public health alert has been issued after several people who attended a  large funeral in Sydney's west tested positive to COVID-19. 

NSW Health is urging anyone who attended the funeral at Pinegrove Memorial Park in Minchinbury on the morning of October 30 to get tested.

The alert also includes a subsequent wake held at a private residence in Llandilo on the October 30 and 31. 

Sails light-up for Diwali

the sails of the opera house building light up in gold
The Opera House shimmered in gold for Diwali.(Supplied)

The sails of the Opera House were lit up with yellow and gold last night to mark the Diwali festival.

The five-day Festival of Lights is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said on social media he had joined the Minister for Multiculturalism Natalie Ward to watch the "fitting tribute".

"More than a billion people around the world celebrate Diwali with tens-of-thousands of them making their home here in NSW," he said.

"A beautiful sight and a fitting tribute to the sentiment of peace, hope and a brighter future for everyone."

Last month images of frontline workers were projected onto the iconic landmark in recognition of their work in getting people vaccinated.

Drowning warnings ahead of summer

Royal Life Saving is urging parents to check pool fences and supervise young children around water as summer approaches. 

In the past 19 years, more than 160 children under the age of four have drowned in New South Wales.

Craig Roberts from Royal Life Saving said there had been an increase in drownings on the back of several disasters, including the pandemic and bushfires.

"Unfortunately, during the last two years … we've actually seen an increase in child drowning deaths especially in that zero to four age category."

Tuesday's weather:

Possible light shower

Sydney 

17

24

Parramatta 

15

24

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