20 March 2020
Kia ora koutou
With so much information and misinformation swirling around about COVID-19, I wanted to share with you what will happen if we were to have a case in our school community. We have been planning for this and are in a position to respond quickly.
- As soon as a case is confirmed in our immediate school community (eg. a student, staff member, or member of their household), the Medical Officer of Health and Ministry of Education will inform me about this, and we will work together to get quick and clear messaging out to you
- If there was a case confirmed of someone in our school, we will likely be asked to close temporarily by the Medical Officer of Health. This will allow time for close contacts to be traced, appropriate testing to be undertaken, and a careful clean of the school to be undertaken.
- If our school does need to close temporarily, we have a plan in place to support student’s learning. This will include the ability for students to continue to engage with most aspects of their programmes from home.
We know COVID-19 feels scary and of course people are concerned for the wellbeing of our children. Please be assured that with no case confirmed in our school, your children are safe here.
Good hygiene is a priority at our school, and we are reinforcing this with all students and staff. We know that practicing good hygiene is still the best thing we can all do to prevent illness.
We are getting the most up to date advice and guidance so that we can confidently make informed decisions about the safety and wellbeing of our school community.
Rules on gatherings do not apply to schools
You may have seen today that the Government has announced that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are to be cancelled. This does not apply to schools, early learning services, tertiary providers, workplaces, supermarkets or public transport. We will continue to provide you with guidance around events and gatherings that could be relevant to schools.
Why a school would close
There is a lot of discussion about school closures in the media with many varying opinions being expressed and some misinformation being deliberately spread.
At the time of writing we have already seen one temporary closure following direction from a Medical Officer of Health. This was following confirmation that one student had been tested positive for COVID-19. That student is self-isolating and all their close contacts (150 students and staff) have been tested for the virus. It has just been announced that all of those tests have come back negative.
The school will reopen next week however those 150 students and staff will remain away from the school for a period of 14 days from when they last had contact with the student confirmed with the virus. This is a precaution only, to keep those people and those around them safe.
Medical Officers of Health – will direct schools to close if needed
Medical Officers of Health have the authority to close a school. They would only do so if there was a medical reason for this, or, after a confirmed case in the school they need to close it for a short period of time while they determine if there is any risk to others (which means staff and students stay away while they undertake contact tracing).
Talking to children and young people about COVID-19
Given the rise in the number of reported cases, there may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. You can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured.
A useful resource for parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers talking about the virus with children and young people can be found here
This can also be downloaded as an information sheet.
Up-to-date information and advice
A reminder that information and advice for students, whānau and the education sector is available here
While the website is being regularly updated with education-related content, the Ministry of Health is the Government agency leading the response to COVID-19
The Secretary for Education joined the Director-General of Health for the Ministry of Health’s COVID 19 update today. You can view that, and all Ministry of Health updates here.
Thanks to those of you who have informed us that your family is self-isolating and have requested info from HBs regarding work. As a rule of thumb, students who have access to wifi at home can work on education perfect or mathsbuddy, keep a journal, write some stories, read, play games and try to get outside at least once a day. If your student would like something more specific from a subject LA, please contact the LA in question. Don’t forget to keep posting on LMS too.
Steven Mustor – Director