Dear Parents and Caregivers,
What a fantastic week we have had. Our staff met last week to discuss how Level 2 would operate and discuss our strategy for the students coming back. They were all very keen to get back into their classes and reconnect with their students, and were of course a little concerned about how things would go around student anxieties. I can honestly say that we have had the loveliest week of the year. I met the students coming into school on Monday and they were quiet but calm on the whole. I was then on the gate at the end of the day and the energy levels and demeanour of the students had already changed with lots of laughter and a clear happiness around seeing their friends again. I know that some will still be anxious, but the majority of the students were in a great space, and it really goes to show the resilience of our students and staff during this time. There have been almost no negative issues and the students seem very happy.
With respect to their academic achievement we have been pleasantly surprised with how much work that has been completed. Yes, there is a range and some may not have connected as much as others, but on the whole we are in a very good space. I have asked the staff not to make changes to courses until we have had a look at the data and then make informed decisions. With respect to our seniors doing NCEA we know that we can fairly easily make up some lost time by not having tournament weeks, having mock exams during class time and not releasing students for study leave, and of course we have more time in term 4 with NZQA pushing the examinations back by two weeks. I am really confident that we can achieve the academic goals that we put in place for our students.
The Board decided on Wednesday night that it would be in the students’ best interest to get back into sports. There has been a lot of discussion around maximum numbers at practices by the sports associations, yet they are all working in an environment outside of schools, and we believe their recommendations to clubs don’t fit in a school setting. Our students spend all day in classes with up to 30 students, why would we then limit the number to 10 in an outside environment where the risks are already reduced. If schools are safe, and we believe they are, then sports trainings are too. Now we understand that this may not align with some parents beliefs, so we created a procedure of first making sure the coach was happy and then getting parent permission. I can’t wait to see students again on our netball courts, football fields and basketball courts. We should see this in action on Monday.
We have seen over the week attendance at about 90%. This is substantially higher than what it normally would be at this time as we have very little cold and flu students. Isolation has certainly helped with this. We are expecting this to change a little now that we are back at school and it highlights the need for us to follow the wellbeing process we have. I have added it at the end of this newsletter.
We have seen a surge in enrolments this week. We have also seen a number of students signing out. The school expects this to continue over the next months as peoples’ personal situations change and there is movement in and out of school as families look for employment opportunities. During this time we need to realise that we are all in different spaces and that showing empathy to people should be at the forefront of our thinking as we do not know what their challenges are and the impact that those challenges are having on their families.
I want to just give a quick update on our health and safety process. We are taking our procedures very seriously around sanitiser and tracking. There has been some misinformation in the community that I would like to clarify for you all.
1. If you are unwell stay at home
2. If you come to school unwell, we get a dean or senior leader to come and get you. You will be placed in our sick bay in isolation. Parents will be called to come and collect you. Our nurse will then call and discuss symptoms and let you know if you should ring healthline for a test.
3. The best thing we can do is follow rule one. Stay at home.
4. You should stay at home until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. This is the case whether you were tested or not.
From the Ministry of Education:
Public health advice regarding sick children and school attendance has not changed in the COVID-19 era. Children who are unwell should not attend school and they should not return to school until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. This applies to infectious respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, and vaccine preventable diseases. If their illness is not an infectious one, for example, it results from an injury or a chronic disease like diabetes, and they are well enough to attend school then they can do so.
COVID-19 like symptoms will be very common over the winter and the vast majority of children with those symptoms won’t have COVID-19. So, the advice to parents whose children have symptoms of cough, fever, sore throat and/or runny nose and sneezing is for them to keep their child at home until they have been symptom free for 48 hours. If they do see a GP or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and they are swabbed then the child will need to be isolated at home until they have their result. They can return to school if their result is negative and they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. In most situations, the rest of their household do not also need to self-isolate. That means that siblings of the ill child, regardless of where they go to school, can attend school while the test result for the ill child is awaited. The only exception is if the child being tested is a symptomatic close contact of a case. In that case, we ask that their household members do self-isolate while awaiting the test result. This exception is unlikely to occur in a school as any child (or adult) who is identified as a close contact of a case will already be in self-quarantine.
You all have enough to worry about without misinformation causing anxiety for your families and whānau. We have been advised of Facebook chat making false claims. The conversation piece is based on ‘if your child has a cold or runny nose then the MoH can/will uplift them’.
There is absolutely no validity in this false rumour. Please reassure your families that students need to be back at early learning services and schools when they are well.
Yet another reason why I don’t like social media….
Your children have been awesome this week. Thank you so much for your support and being brave during this time. We really have had a fantastic week at school.
Nga mihi nui