Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, tēnā koutou katoa i roto i ngā āhuatanga o te wā.
Welcome back after what we hope has been a wonderful summer for your whānau. Our team is feeling refreshed and ready to go for the 2022 year and can’t wait to welcome everyone back onsite.
In regard to COVID-19 we have moved fully into the new traffic light framework for all our school and kura activities and events this year. You will be familiar with all the health measures we will have in place and it is good to know that at Red setting, we are able to support everyone learning onsite.
Events and activities
Large hui and gatherings especially when indoors continue to be one of the riskier activities we can undertake. We have therefore reviewed all our events and activities for the upcoming term to ensure we meet the health guidance for Red. This means that there will be some changes to our Yr 9 Pōwhiri and also to our start of year arrangements for Yr 10-13 students. These changes will be communicated with you directly in more detailed correspondence.
We have used the Ministry of Education self-assessment tool to review all our ventilation in readiness for the start of the year. Providing fresh air remains the most important thing we can do in our learning spaces to minimise risk for ākonga and kaiako (and the same goes for you at home). We also have CO2 monitors in Matairangi which allow us to increase the levels of ventilation through the Building Management System when required.
Omicron and testing
We have all seen the very large numbers of cases overseas and we will very likely see much larger numbers of cases in Aotearoa than we have previously experienced in the last two years. While Omicron is more transmissible than previous strains, most people who get COVID-19 will have a mild to moderate illness and will fully recover in their own home.
However, some of our community who are immune compromised, are ill or have other vulnerabilities, even when they are fully vaccinated, could be more affected by Omicron. So, we all need to continue to play our part to minimise the spread of the virus.
In regard to testing, the health system currently has capacity to process 40,000 PCR tests a day. PCR testing is the most accurate test for COVID-19 and will continue to be used while New Zealand is in the stamp-it-out phase.
Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) will begin to be used more widely over time. They are not as accurate as PCR tests and this means that some people who do have COVID-19 will get a negative test result back. There are currently 4.6 million RATs in the country and 10s of millions ordered.
If you are symptomatic or need to be tested to access a workplace or service, you will be guided at the time on which test is best for you.
Staff and children in Years 4 – 13 must wear face coverings when inside at school when we are at Red. Students will also be required to wear masks on school buses as well as public transport.
Public health advice is that an appropriate face covering will fit snugly and seal well around facial contours. This can include single use, disposable masks (medical masks) and re-usable fabric masks with three layers.
Don’t worry if you don’t have these specific types of face coverings, as public health experts also say that any mask, if well fitting, is better than no mask.
The Unite Against COVID-19 website also has information on how to make a face covering.
Visiting school site
If you need to come into school to meet with teachers, or for any other reason, you will be asked at Reception to show your vaccine pass as proof of vaccination. If you are not vaccinated then alternative online arrangements will be made for you.
There will be no non-essential visitors on site
Students on site
Students must remain on site throughout the day. If a student has a medical appointment then they must sign out at Hauora showing evidence of their appointment.
AT the end of 2021 students who were participating in Sport had to be fully vaccinated and have their vaccine pass available. We are awaiting further details from College Sport Wellington regarding any changes now we are at the Red setting and these will be communicated to you in due course.
Managing cases in our school
We have a good contact tracing system in place so that if there is a confirmed case who has been at school while infectious, we can quickly identify who was a close contact of that person. We will then quickly advise those contacts of what they need to do.
Only if the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education advises to do so, would we consider closing a physical onsite school and moving to distance learning for everyone. At Red we will keep everyone learning onsite for as long as we can.
Please make sure your contact details we have on file are up to date, so we can get in touch with you if needed.
Preparing for COVID-19
You can also prepare for COVID-19, making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. This will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed. Find out more here:
· Download the COVID-19 Readiness Checklist [PDF, 121 KB]
Self-isolating at home because of COVID-19
Students will continue to engage with their learning whilst isolating at home. It is important that they have their device for learning and internet connectivity. Please be in touch with your child’s Dean if you have any concerns.
Many people will be able to manage self-isolation with help from friends and whānau, but there is help available if you need it – both with health support and access to food and other essentials.
· What to expect when self-isolating at home | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)
· Getting extra support if you have COVID-19 or are self-isolating | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)
· COVID-19 positive – managing your symptoms | Health Navigator NZ
If you know anyone in your community affected by COVID-19 and who may need help, such as food and other financial assistance, Work and Income has a range of supports available for individuals, families, employers and self-employed people affected by COVID-19.
Work and Income support
The beginning of the year can be a tough time for parents who are faced with many costs and it is important you are aware of what assistance you may be able to get from Work and Income. These are available to people on a low income as well as those on a benefit.
· School and Year Start-up Payment (for people getting Orphan’s Benefit or Unsupported Child’s Benefit)
· Help with living costs (including food and rent/mortgage)
Use the links above or call 0800 559 009 to find out more, or to apply.
MoneyTalks can assist with free budgeting and debt help
You can also contact your local community provider. Please find more information here
Getting ready to return to school
The Ministry of Education has some helpful information on their Parents and Whānau website to support your tamariki to get back to school. There is also a very important reminder about how you can take care of yourself.
While this might all feel a little overwhelming at times, we know that all these measures will help our children return to school, reconnect with whānau and friends and do what they enjoy.
We are also here to help. Please get in touch if you have any concerns or need help in any way firstname.lastname@example.org
Ngā mihi nui