Welcome back for Term 3!
Kia ora koutou Waimea College parents/caregivers and students,
Despite the wild weather during much of the holidays I hope that everyone had a restful and refreshing break away after a busy term.
I was very fortunate to have received a TeachNZ Principal Sabbatical last term. I spent this time visiting other schools across New Zealand looking at how they operate and in particular how other schools manage student attendance, engagement and achievement. It is always useful to see how other schools are responding to the challenges that we share. While I returned from these school visits with plenty of ideas, the big takeaway for me is being very grateful for the special school culture, and the neat students and staff that we have here at Waimea College.
I would like to acknowledge our Associate Principal, Graeme Smith for his work as Principal while I was on sabbatical, and to the rest of the Senior Leadership Team and others who picked up additional responsibilities during this time.
Updated COVID Advice
Term 2 was challenging for us in terms of student and staff absences related to COVID and other illnesses. Thank you for your understanding as we needed to roster year levels home at times during the term in order to manage staff shortages.
In previous years we have found there is an increase in winter illnesses in schools at the start of Term 3 as students bring back infections after travelling and socialising during the holidays. This year cases of COVID-19 are increasing in most parts of the country, and we are also seeing high numbers of other winter illnesses.
For the start of Term 3, 2022, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health have strongly recommended that all schools and kura amend their mask policy for the first four weeks of term to require mask wearing in all indoor settings (where it will not have a significant impact on teaching and learning – see below) for all of our students while in class and on school buses.
We will be following this advice in the following ways:
1. We will ask everyone who is able to wear a mask to wear a mask.
2. There will be some situations where mask wearing compromises activity and learning and they will not need to be worn (examples are below).
3. There will be some students unable to wear a mask. The Ministry of Health have issued some helpful guidance for people who have difficulties wearing a mask.
This is not a significant change in how we have already been operating.
This recommendation does not include any situation where mask wearing might not be practicable, such as while eating and drinking, playing certain musical instruments, indoor sport, where it will have a significant impact on teaching and learning (for example, students with particular learning needs), certain activities such as singing or drama performance on stage, and PE. In these situations we will ensure good ventilation.
Please support your teen to come to school ready to wear masks. Students should bring masks from home. If students cannot bring masks from home they will be able to get one from the office when they arrive at school.
Wearing masks works alongside other measures including vaccination, good ventilation, staying home when sick, and hand washing and other hygiene measures, to protect our students and staff.
Changes and reminders to isolation settings
There have also been some changes to timelines for managing COVID isolation and reinfection periods. If you test positive for COVID you need to isolate for 7 days.
· Household contacts also need to isolate for 7 days.
· If someone else in the household tests positive during those 7 days the clock does not restart for everyone else unless there is a gap of 10 days between one person in the household testing positive and a second person testing positive. After 10 days the clock does re-start and household contacts would need to isolate for another 7 days (except those who had already had COVID and recovered).
· There is a window of 29 days where catching COVID twice would be unlikely and even though you have recovered and be back at school you may still be testing positive. If you test positive 29 days after your first positive COVID test it would be considered a new infection and require a further round of isolation.
· More information (and it is updated frequently) can be found at https://www.health.govt.nz/
As we prepare for another COVID-impacted term, please make sure that your student knows how to access on-line learning and has what they need at home if they are unable to be at school.
Thank you for your support in protecting our school community.
We look forward to reconnecting with students next week.
Noho ora mai,
By Scott Haines