From the Principal

By Mr Simon Coleman | Posted: Thursday March 19, 2020

With so much information and misinformation swirling around about COVID-19, we wanted to share with you what will happen if we were to have a case in our school community and what we have been doing to safeguard our students.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a fast evolving situation about which we will continue to update you via our Facebook page and through email. As a school we are guided by the Ministries of Health and Education as well as our local medical specialists. We appreciate there are many queries and concerns you will have and we will address these as best we can in this article.

This week we have focused on managing the health and wellbeing of students and staff, considering how students can continue their education from home, and clarifying with NZQA options for assessment for students who are unwell or are self-isolating.

We have available a well equipped first aid room and our cleaners have been fully sterilising our high use areas at the end of each day. We have hand sanitiser available for use by students and staff and posters throughout the school promoting hygiene and handwashing.

We will not, at this stage, be closing the school. This is, however, a fluid situation and if we are directed to close by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health we will do so. Our staff have been preparing for the possibility of some (or all) of our students working from home and are building resources to allow students to work in an online environment.

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 completed. If we are directed to close we will be in contact with our school community immediately.

Vulnerable students

Part of the Covid-19 alert has been an increased awareness that students who are vulnerable due to health issues need to be more vigilant. We have within our school community students who are insulin dependent diabetics, students with low immune systems due to various medical conditions and students with high respiratory problems that require daily action. We are making contact with the parents of these students to make them aware that should they choose to keep their child at home they can and they can be assured that our teaching staff will ensure that those students will still receive an education while at home through online learning. If you feel your child falls within that category and have not heard from us please make contact with the office.

Online Teaching

Our staff are building capacity to teach students while they are at home. Google Classroom will form the basis of this online environment and our students are familiar with it. We are starting to look at how teachers and students will interact and how to ensure students have access to support and help as needed. This extends to all our staff having online staff meetings which will create challenges but also opportunities.

We are aware that we have a small group of students who are unable to access a device and/or have little or no internet access. We are putting in place a plan to enable us to deliver education for these students in the event that the school is required to close. If you do not have internet access in your home please let the office know.

It is very important that regardless of the situation your child's learning is maintained and your support in ensuring your son or daughter, whilst at home, is completing work that has been provided, will be essential.

NCEA Students

Parents and caregivers of NCEA students can be reassured that the Ministry of Education is conscious of students doing achievement and unit standards and meeting deadlines. We have been working with NZQA and have attached a document that talks about how we will support students who are not at school and are also unwell. We are confident that we have a robust system in place that will ensure consistency and equity for all students.

Student Wellbeing

Obviously in these circumstances student wellbeing is of concern. We have a competent and professional Wellbeing team of Deans, Guidance Counsellor and Social Worker who will be supporting those students who may find aspects related to this pandemic disturbing.

What can you do?

As parents and caregivers please continue to reinforce healthy messages:

● Teach your children the importance of hand washing and drying – especially before meals and after toileting.

● Teach your children to use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing.

● We ask that all staff or students who are unwell remain at home.

The symptoms of Covid-19 are:

● Shortness of breath

● A high temperature (at least 38°C)

● Cough

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have Covid-19. If you have these symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with Covid-19, please phone the Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately.

We ask that you continue to ensure that your child remains at home if they are unwell and that should your child feel unwell whilst they are at school they follow our standard process and report to the office for assistance rather than call home directly. This allows us to ensure we are aware of the whereabouts of our students, that they are closely monitored and that you are contacted as required.

Should the school be closed it will be vital as parents and caregivers that you check your emails along with those of your son or daughter so that you are kept informed of learning requirements. It is important even now to be checking our Facebook, newsletter and emails as this situation is changing daily.

What next?

We have created a FAQ sheet aimed at answering the questions at the forefront of our students minds.

FAQs Covid 19

Link to all of Government website Home | Unite against COVID-19

Link to our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/geraldinehigh/

See next article for NZQA information.

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 regularly 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.

We thank you for continued support with this.

If you have any queries please contact the school office.

Nga mihi

Simon Coleman