Kia ora koutou mā whanau,
Like me, I am sure you have followed with interest the announcements made by the Prime Minister, not least of which was today's announcement.
It is reassuring to hear how well our country has done at minimising the impacts of COVID-19. Alert Levels 4 and 3 have not been easy and I thank you for your
ongoing support for the work we are doing.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister advised that in Alert Level 2 schools are safe environments for children, young people and staff and that additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.
The good news is that we will be ready to welcome all students and staff back to our school site from Monday 18 May onwards. Many of you may be wondering what you should do-and whether it is safe to send your child back to school yet or not. Others may be "ready" to send their children back now, and will not have any reservations in returning their children to school from next week.
I have included information below for your consideration to help frame up and support your decision making-at Level 2.
Our school supports a family's right to stay home and continue learning online; our core investment is in our relationship with you, in working together in partnership to do our very best in providing you with the most accurate and essential information you need, to not only stay informed and up to date, but to stay safe-while feeling supported by your school.
The key Public Health approach is to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place, and second to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person, if someone in a school is infected.
As we have done in Alert Level 3, you can be assured that in Alert Level 2 we will know who is at school, who our staff and students have been in close contact with and take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.
Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. We do however know it is challenging in schools, so good hygiene practices and regular cleaning are even more important here. This includes staff and students coughing into their elbows, hand washing and drying and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
Under Alert Level 2, we advise any students and staff to stay at home if they are sick, and we will send anyone home immediately if they show any symptoms.
Our school has safe and sensible practices to maintain the health and safety of everyone on the school site. As described by Dr Payinda in his NZ Herald article, “Covid's not measles or chickenpox, it doesn't hang in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You don't have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their 'moist breath' zone”. We all just need to remember to have some breathing space at Alert Level 2!
It’s important however that not just at school but at home, safe hygiene habits are practised by everyone, as this is essential to minimise the risk that someone gets infected with Covid-19.
For more information about the public health measures at Alert Level 2, you can visit the covid19.govt.nz website: https://covid19.govt.nz/
If you have any questions about our health and safety plan, or have a child who might be vulnerable to serious illness and would like to discuss a plan for them, please contact me.
We will be in touch again soon to update you on our plans, but in the meantime we will be sending out a brief survey to families to help us plan and prepare for the safe return of children to our school. Please take the time to consider all the information provided before completing the survey before Wednesday, 13 May.
School is closed Wednesday 13 May due to electrical work being conducted all day in the area by EA networks, so a further update to families will go out on either, Thursday the 14th of May or Friday the 15th of May.
Well being is our key focus and we realise that by the time our children and families return to Lauriston it will have been 8 weeks since we were last at school. Our planning and preparation for school return will take this into careful consideration-and our curriculum will take a responsive approach to transitioning our students back into their onsite learning. Families too will need to consider their child/children's return to school in this light. For this reason we have included the following link: Back to the future- Supporting kids in their return to school.
Ngā mihi nui
Dave Maw- BOT Chair
Key messages from the Prime Minister
“Early learning services, schools and tertiary education facilities are all open.”
“Schools and early learning services are safe environments for children, young people and staff. Additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.”
“Schools and early learning services will engage with parents about children returning at Alert level 2.”
“Distance learning is available for those unable to attend school, for example who are self-isolating.”
“If a school has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, they must close on an individual or group basis for 72 hours, to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.”
“We also agreed that when we make the decision to move levels, schools won’t open midweek – whenever the decision is made – they will open at the beginning of the following week. So if we make a decision to shift to Alert Level 2 next week, schools and early learning centres will have ten days from now to prepare.”
“The two key public health principles we’re talking to the sector about are one: to reduce the risk of someone getting infected in the first place and two, to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who becomes infected.”
“So keeping kids at home if they’re sick, and good hygiene such as hand washing are so important.”
“Where possible physical distancing is a good precaution. We do, however, know it is near impossible in an early learning environment and challenging in schools. So good hygiene practices and regular cleaning are even more important here.”
“In schools, physical distancing means children, young people and staff maintaining enough distance so that they are not breathing on or touching each other. And maintaining good hygiene practices, and regular cleaning. As is regular cleaning of equipment.”
“And all schools and early learning services will collect information about who’s there, so Public Health can contact people quickly if they need to.”
“We know parents will have lots of questions, but please give schools and early learning centres time to plan and contact you.”
End of Prime Minister’s messages…
Public Health Statement for the Education Sector
We have carefully looked at the evidence around COVID-19 and educational settings, and at the experience of other countries in responding to COVID-19 in these settings to inform the public health advice to the education sector in planning for a move to Level 2.
Our experience in New Zealand and overseas with COVID-19 over the last four months shows that it does not infect or affect children and teens in the same way it does adults.
So children and teens have low infection rates, they don't become that unwell if they do get infected, and they don't tend to pass the virus on to adults.
Quality education is a public health intervention in itself, so I am very aware of the benefits of children and young people attending school and early learning, and the need to support children and young people to do this as quickly as we can.
The two key public health principles that support our approach at Alert Level 2 are first to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place, and second to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person, if someone in a school or early learning centre is infected.
Any children, young people and staff should stay at home if they are sick, or should be sent home immediately if they show any symptoms.
Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. In an Alert level 2 school environment, this means children, young people, and staff maintaining a physical distance so that they are not breathing on or touching each other, coupled with good hygiene practices (coughing into your elbow, handwashing and drying) and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.
There are situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as some sporting activities. In these situations extra emphasis on handwashing and drying (or cleansing with hand sanitiser) before and after activities and regular cleaning of equipment is recommended.
In an early learning environment, it is not really possible to have a physical distance between children and staff. Young children require a lot of physical support and it is not possible to explain or maintain a physical distance between young children given the age of the children and set up of centres.
This means good hygiene practices (coughing into your elbow, regular handwashing, and drying) are even more important.
Schools and early learning services will also maintain registers so that children, young people and staff can immediately be contacted by public health services if there is a probable or confirmed case.
And it is important that parents fully support this approach by doing their bit - keeping children home if they are unwell and seeking medical advice about whether a child may need to be tested; and ensuring great hygiene practices at all times.
Dr Caroline McElnay
Director, Public Health, Ministry of Health
Alert Level 2 for schools
Under Alert Level 2, it is safe for all schools to open. Safe and sensible practices for hygiene and contact tracing will be the norm, and all students will be able to return, so long as they remain well.
Under Alert Level 2, there are still likely to be new cases which may be the result of household transmission or associated with cluster outbreaks that are contained. The disease remains in New Zealand, so we need to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to avoid transmission. People are able to leave home but are asked to do so in a safe and conscientious way.
The key principles for Alert Level 2 are to:
Physical distancing in schools further explained
Physical distancing remains important, particularly when people are interacting with people they don’t know and who couldn’t be easily traced. However the risks are relatively lower at Alert Level 2, and it’s now safe for individuals to be physically close to their good friends and family.
A school environment is controlled, you know who is at school, who they have been in close contact with and have good hygiene measures in place including regularly washing hands, including before and after using shared equipment. People who are sick are staying at home and you are monitoring for anyone presenting with signs of illness and are cleaning high-touch surfaces daily.
So for physical distancing in schools, it means children, young people, and staff maintaining a physical distance so that they are not breathing on or touching each other. You literally get some breathing space. As described by Dr Payinda in his NZ Herald article, “Covid's not measles or chickenpox, it doesn't hang in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You don't have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their 'moist breath' zone”.
So in a school setting, if you can smell the person’s breath or feel that you are in that “most breath” zone, move a little further away. Avoid touching others and for adults, it is recommended that where practicable you keep a metre distance between you.
Resuming Ministry contracted school transport services
When schools resume under Alert Level 2, school transport services will also return to normal schedules. The ongoing safety of drivers and students and the ability to contact trace is a priority when we enter Alert Level 2, and will be managed in the following ways:
Answers to some commonly asked questions about Alert Level 2Can parents and caregivers come on site at Level 2?
Yes – however physical distancing of 2 metres is recommended for parents and caregivers from people they don’t know (to align with public health measures outside the school grounds). Parents and caregivers who come on site need to be noted in the visitor register.
A reminder that you will already have contact information for parents and caregivers, so don’t need to collect those particular details each time they come on-site. But will need to record their name and their time in and out of the school, including any classrooms they entered.
Can we use drinking fountains at Level 2?
Providing clean water at your school is part of your overall health and safety responsibilities.
The surfaces around the fountain including the spout, button/leaver and nozzles could pose a risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and other germs. Whether you continue to make your drinking fountains accessible will depend on the ability for your students and staff to use them safely:
Encourage students use personal water bottles
Online Learning from homeOu teaching staff will still maintain and update current online learning platforms for classroom students where there is a need. Home Learning TV extended to support teaching and learningHome Learning | Papa Kāinga TV has been extended until 10 June, with the option of a further extension until the end of term 2.
From 8 May, we will be publishing details of the upcoming week’s lessons on the Learning From Home website – this will enable teachers in particular to incorporate lessons on Home Learning | Papa Kāinga TV into their teaching programmes.
Home Learning TV I Papa Kāinga TV is available online as well as on TV – it can be live streamed through the TVNZ OnDemand website, and lessons are available OnDemand shortly after their original broadcast.
Update on hard pack resources for students