From the Principal

By Mr Simon Coleman | Posted: Wednesday May 13, 2020

Tena koutou,

Many of you are probably wondering what the next level of Covid-19 will look like and for ourselves in the Education sector, we are considering this also. The last 6 weeks that we have been in Level 4 and Level 3 have highlighted many great things about our school community.

In this newsletter, I would like to recognise so many positives from the difficult situation that we are in.

Before I do this, I would like to reiterate the information that we have received from the Ministries of Health and Education which we must follow as we move to this new level. Below is key information from these Ministries.

Here are the main points for schools:

  • We are expecting all staff and students back in Level Two.
  • The only exception to this is those who are sick, if you are sick - please stay home!
  • There will not be strict physical distancing, rather it is encouraged to distance where possible and we will focus on good hygiene practices, regular cleaning, and giving everyone “breathing space”.
  • PPE is not required for staff or students on site.

The most important things you can do are keep washing your hands, cough safely, and keep surfaces clean, just as you have been at Levels 3 and 4.

The significant changes for schools and early learning services are:

  • Physical Distancing – 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 very important.
  • Mass gatherings – educational facilities, and school transport are not considered mass gatherings because they are managed environments. This means there are no restrictions on numbers of people indoors or outside at schools and early learning services other than what other public health or health and safety measures require. The exception is where people from outside the school may be attending, eg for a school production or school ball. In these examples and if a school is hiring out their hall or allowing community groups to use school facilities, the mass gathering rules will apply.
  • Sports and playgrounds – school playgrounds, sports equipment use and activities can resume. Contact sports will resume at some point. This relies on being able to contact trace who is on site during school hours and at school team training and competitions.
  • There are no restrictions on groups of students mixing with others on site. Where practicable where groups/classes do mix – attendance should be recorded as it should if the composition of groups and classes change during the day. Teachers/staff are not restricted to one group while working at school.

[Sourced from the Managing health and safety in schools at Alert Level 2 from the MOE]

I want to assure everyone in our Geraldine High School community that we are following all the steps required and beyond in many cases so that the Health, Wellbeing and Safety of our entire school is our priority. You will see more on this in this newsletter but also through ongoing communication through our emails, Facebook and Website.

Our Key Aims for the first week and beyond is to do the following in line with this priority:

  • To help students feel welcome and safe
  • To reestablish connections and create a new normal
  • To reestablish school routines while looking after the social and emotional wellbeing of our students.

Should any parents/caregivers have concerns for their child returning to school on Monday, please contact the main office by either email [email protected] or call 03 693 0017.

TIMELINE for Level 2

  • Monday 11th May - Date we move to Level 2 announced
  • Friday 15th May - Preparation day for staff
  • Monday 18th May - Student first day back

In relation to COVID-19 but more so the events and actions that have occurred during this, I want to acknowledge how wonderful many groups have been.

Our High School Students - I have been so impressed with the many comments from staff along with students I have talked to online with how they have adapted to the online school. Yes - some have found this difficult at different times but have been willing to reach out and get help from the teachers or amongst themselves. So well done and now look forward to taking these learnings and experiences and bring those back into our school which can but only be a great positive.

Student Executive - this group have become leaders of our school at a very fast pace because they had to in the circumstances that they have faced. And every one of them has done themselves and us proud with the enthusiasm, energy, and creative ideas they have put together to keep the culture of our school alive and well. The skills you have shown over this time will be invaluable for your lives beyond Geraldine High School.

Dedicated Staff - our Teachers have been absolutely AMAZING over these weeks and I have such admiration for their attitude and commitment to do everything in their capacity to support the learning for our students over this time. That is what makes Geraldine High School such a great environment to be in because our staff care so much for our students, your children, and their colleagues who they support each day through this once in a lifetime event.

The Support Staff have been fantastic from the management of school property, to working with our Te Whare Ako students, to ensuring our school is at the highest level of hygiene, to managing the office through to dealing with all the added extras around what COVID-19 has brought to us.

Senior Leadership Team - I need to acknowledge the superb Senior Leadership team that we have this year who have put the needs of the students and staff before anything else over this period. They have been a team in the true sense of the word by working together on numerous areas that have arisen, creating process and structures, supporting departments, analysing data and Ministry documents, creating options for students and being there for all our staff and parents who have needed help or guidance. For my role as Principal, Mr Ryan Wilson, Ms Rae Coburn, Mr Richard Harvey and Ms Suzanne Pidduck have given me the confidence and assurity with what we have done over the last several weeks as we have faced this pandemic in our school context.

Committed and Supportive Board of Trustees - without the direction and support of this very capable Board of Trustees over this time, we would have found many of the aspects asked of us difficult to achieve. They have all been available when needed as well as ensuring what needed to be done was done in a timely way which is much appreciated.

I look with excitement that we can all reconnect on Monday as we effectively start the year again given this Virtual School has been in place as long as our Christmas holidays. I do hope you all enjoy these last few days with your son or daughter and talk with them about the change for them that lies ahead so that they are well prepared for our school term.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa