Term 1, Week 7, 2020 (Thursday 19th March 2020)
He mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa - warm greetings to all. I hope you are all keeping fit and healthy in these strange times that we find ourselves in. Due to these strange times we have moved to weekly newsletters rather than fortnightly. We hope you understand the need to increase the communication as the situation changes quickly.
The guidelines for self-isolation have now changed. Even if you have arrived in the country prior to 1:00am on Monday 16 March you should self-isolate from the date of arrival for 14 days. If you have arrived after that you must self-isolate. This includes children of parents/family members who have been away or have been in contact with others who are being tested or are at risk of having COVID-19. We are aware that the Ministry of Health are saying that children of self-isolators do not need to isolate themselves. We disagree as they also say that these self-isolators need to keep 2m away from their children. We believe this is impossible and this is why we ask the whole family to self-isolate. Please contact the school if this applies to your family and teachers will supply remote learning options.
We currently have 12 children in isolation. We appreciate these families and their honesty at communicating their situations. We really do need families to be honest about their overseas travel and contact with those who have been overseas, as we are being honest and transparent with the situation at school. We thank all of you who are following the guidelines put out by the Ministry of Health asking that families keep all unwell children at home. We have at least four staff members at school who fall into the 'high risk' category. As a school we need to protect their health as well as try to protect the health of the vulnerable within our community.
As demonstrated in the news story on TV3 on Monday night, we are further ahead in our pandemic planning than other schools. We are sharing our plans and information with our neighbouring schools to assist them with their planning. We intend to stay ahead of the curve with our planning during this pandemic which means we will communicate regularly and openly with our community.
Potential School Closure
Due to the ongoing escalation of COVID-19 around the world, we are in preparation for the possibility of a school closure.
The Ministry of Education believes that schools are very safe places to be while there is no evidence of community transmission. While there is currently no apparent evidence of community transmission, we are a school with a lot of international connections and all our new cases are arriving in New Zealand from overseas. The government appears to be partly basing their approach to coping with COVID-19 on what was seen in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Schools in these countries already have in-built physical distancing as they sit in single desks, in rows, separate from other desks. It is much harder for us here to practice the physical distancing that is being asked of us by the Ministry of Education (children in single desks, 1.5 metres apart) as we do not teach like that here. Even when we change the way we teach we are still in shared spaces at shared desks. While we are trying our best to increase the distance between the students, it is very difficult to do, particularly with our younger ones.
Teachers are currently preparing 'Learning at Home' plans which will be ready to roll out if/when we need to close. As stated in the previous newsletter, student email addresses will be used for Year 4 and up. Year 1-3s need to have a parent email address that can be used daily for teachers to send work and communicate learning information. The 'Learning at Home' plans will rely on children having access to a device and the internet for at least some of the day, including being able to watch video links. Please let us know if this will be a problem for your family. Please also be aware that your internet plan may need to be upgraded if there will be more devices than usual using it.
Learning Conferences Cancelled
We are cancelling our learning conferences this term. By the end of the term our reporting on Seesaw will give a clear picture of where children are at. If you have any concerns about your child's learning, please email your child's teacher.
Seesaw and our Parent Portal app
If you aren't connected to your child's Seesaw journal, you should receive another invite today. If you have any problems please contact email@example.com and we will make sure you get connected. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help getting the Parent Portal etap app.