Kia ora Upper Moutere Parents/ Caregivers/ Whanau/ Students
Hopefully you have all had a wonderful summer with your whanau and friends.
The Upper Moutere team is feeling refreshed and ready to go for the 2022 year and cannot wait to welcome everyone back onsite next Wednesday 2 February.
As you are aware we start the year in the new traffic light framework at RED.
So what does this mean for us at Upper Moutere?
Really it is school as usual for everyone and we want to make it this way as much as possible for all our learners.
There are a few new Ministry of Health requirements that we need to put in place at RED to ensure we all stay safe.
The new ones are
- ALL Year 4 and above students must wear a face mask at school while inside and while using the school bus. We will have some masks available at school for those students that forget them but we are not in a position to continue to provide these. We ask that students come to school each day with at least two masks they can wear during the day. Mask wearing will be new to all of us, we intend to make this as stress-free as possible. Auckland schools which had to wear masks in Term 4 last year reported positive experiences, we can do this too.
- ALL teachers, support staff and adults working in the school will be masked.
- ALL parents and visitors are to wear masks when on the school site. We had hoped this year we would not have to continue the Drop off and Pick up system at the gate that you were so respectful of last year, however at RED we are asked to reinstate this. If you need to come into school please do so, please wear a mask but please we ask that you do not enter Learning Spaces at this time
- Staff will ensure good ventilation of learning spaces and provide our students opportunity to learn outside and provide regular ‘mask breaks’ where students can get outside.
- Monday Huis and Learning Celebrations (assemblies) will not take place. Inter-mixing of learning spaces will be minimised while we have the staff present to do so.
- We will continue to ensure surfaces are regularly cleaned, hand sanitiser and regular washing of hands is encouraged along with coughing and sneezing into your elbow.
The Ministry of Education has provided considerably more detail. This will be posted for you to read on our school website.
We have said this before but it is true again… this Term will be like no other. Over the term we should expect considerable absences of students and staff as they self-isolate, await test results or are sick from the virus.
How our teaching and learning looks at Upper Moutere and indeed across all schools will be quite different. We are currently considering various scenarios, including onsite and distance learning, a combination of these or other variants we have not yet tried.
Enough of the ‘what if’s’… what we do know is… Teachers and Support Staff are meeting for the day on Tuesday 1 February to plan an exciting 2022 and we will welcome all our fabulous students the following day Wednesday 2 February.
Our theme for 2022 is “Celebrate Us” we intend to start to do just that on Wednesday!
Lastly…exciting news. Toby, Jess and Henry welcomed Nellie Ammundsen to their family early in the new year. She is gorgeous!
Take care… enjoy the sun, see you next week
The Upper Moutere Team
Ministry of Education more detailed information re return to School at RED.
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 Upper Moutere 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. The school has therefore reviewed all our events and activities for the upcoming term to ensure we meet the health guidance for Red. Meet the Teacher may occur via Zoom. Our annual School Triathlon can go ahead but just not with parents and family present. Sadly our interschool swimming sports will have to be cancelled.
The school has used the Ministry of Education self-assessment tool to review all our ventilation in readiness for the start of the year. Providing good old fashioned 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 will also be receiving a CO2 monitor in the coming weeks to further support our ventilation plan
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.
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 face covering is better than no face covering.
The Unite Against COVID-19 website also has information on how to make a face covering.
For those of you with children who might be reluctant to wear a face covering, there is some helpful advice from Michigan Health, including using simple, specific explanations about why they need to wear a face covering, adults being the role models, providing small rewards for wearing them, bringing face coverings into play such as drawing face coverings on characters in colouring books, or letting them choose/make the mask.
Vaccination for five- to 11-year-olds
Vaccination including a booster shot, remains an important tool to help prevent the most serious harm from the COVID-19 virus. If children and young adults who have been vaccinated do develop COVID-19, they are far less likely to get seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.
The free five- to 11-year-old vaccination programme is now underway and more than 100,000 children in New Zealand have had their first dose.
There is some helpful information available to support you on the Unite Against COVID-19 website including How to book a vaccine for your five – 11 year old and some great videos on the Kids Health page that can support you to talk to your tamariki about the COVID-19 vaccine.
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:
- Be prepared for COVID-19
- Download the COVID-19 Readiness Checklist [PDF, 121 KB]
- What to expect when self-isolating at home
Self-isolating at home because of COVID-19
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 costs
- Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy
- Other Childcare Assistance
- 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
03 543 2798 or email@example.com
Stay safe, look after each other and Celebrate Us!
The Upper Moutere Team