As we have re-entered Covid Alert Level 2, all our previous Level 2 guidelines will apply at school from tomorrow. Unfortunately with the emergence of a small amount of community transmission of COVID 19 in Auckland, the Prime Minister and the Director-General of Health have announced that Auckland will be in Alert Level 3 for a number of days, and the rest of the country, including Hamilton will move into Alert Level 2.
Te Totara Primary School has remained prepared for any change to our Alert Level status since the Covid 19 pandemic first emerged, so we are well able to look after your children very safely through this process. The continued good health and wellbeing of all in our community remains my first priority.
The key health and safety principles for Alert Level 2 are:
- to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place
- to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person, if someone in a school is infected.
Level 2 is school open with all learning in place, however we must have some greater protection protocols for all.
It is safe for all students and staff to be at school in Alert Level 2. Schools are safe because hygiene habits will be strong and we have put in place safe and sensible practices.
This includes regular cleaning, use of hand sanitiser, handwashing with soap and warm water, reminding and helping children with those important habits such as coughing into their elbows, handwashing and drying. No one at school needs to wear any PPE unless we are advised otherwise by the Ministry of Education, who is in close contact with the Ministry of Health.
As with the previous Alert Levels when we are working with all our students, we must adhere to the guidelines that have been set by the Ministry of Health and the NZ Government at this Alert Level 2. There will be some differences in school life for our learners.
These differences are to ensure that we all remain safe and well:
● Drop off at school must occur between 8.15am and 8.55am. No students are to be on or around the school site before then. School gates are locked until that time and then again at 3:15 pm.
● The school day ends as usual at 3 pm and all students must have left the school grounds by 3.15 pm. Our cleaners will be onsite from 3:15 pm to undertake a thorough clean of all areas every day. We appreciate your support with this.
● Before and After School Care will be operating. Any student at school prior to 8.15am will need to be enrolled in Before School Care, any students at school after 3:15 pm will also need to be enrolled in Afterschool Care.
● Drop off to and pick up from school tomorrow and beyond is to be at; either the main school gate, or the gate beside Orion, or in the ‘drop off zone’. We ask that you say goodbye or greet your children at this point. This is because ‘physical distancing’ of 2 metres is required for parents and caregivers, from people they don’t know (to align with public health measures outside the school grounds). All persons on site, no matter how brief must be part of a ‘contact tracing’ regime.
Your child is to walk themselves to and from their classroom pod area where the teaching team in that area will be waiting to welcome them. Students can bike, scooter or walk to school to avoid congestion.
Your children will come to you and find where you will be in your usual exit if you normally pick them up from school. This will be either at the main gate, the gate by the Orion block or the back gate by the swimming pool. The gate by the Matawhero block (red block) will remain locked. There will be staff in these gate areas, and I would ask that you maintain your usual patience and kindness with us all, as we get your children to you as fast as possible.
● If your child has an older sibling picking them up from Rototuna Junior High School after school, then we will have them waiting for their sibling under staff supervision in the ‘drop off’ zone. Students from Rototuna Junior or Senior High cannot come through the school. They need to come around via the walkway to the drop-off zone and collect your child from there. This is to occur straight after school before 3:30pm.
● The only parents who will be able to come on-site are those of our New Entrant students. For those parents, as soon you and your child get to the pod area you must leave your child with the teaching team. Contact tracing registers are to be set up and identify which children and adults are on site, in each teaching space in Matawhero and Orion, including recording if there is a different composition of children and adults during the day. Contact tracing includes recording visitors to the site, including parents and caregivers in our Vistab system.
● Please be rigorous with your own contact tracing of where you go to during each day. We have QR codes in all areas around our school. You can use the Covid App, which is free and very easy to download from the App store, to scan the code and keep a record of where you have been. This is in case of any outbreaks in any areas close to here.
● Please be aware that all school gates will be locked between 9:10am until 2:50 pm to ensure that no one comes onto the school site without going through the school office. This is important in terms of keeping the staff and students safe.
● At this stage we will keep to one morning tea and one lunch break, however we will monitor this and can change to two separate ones, within the school grounds if we need to. There will be staff on duty through these time slots as normal.
● The Playgrounds will be open for use during school time. Our focus will be on washing hands before and after every break time. Physical Education classes and sports activities can include access to sports equipment, but hygiene practices should be observed after playing with equipment.
● Hand hygiene and school hygiene will remain a top priority with handwashing and hand sanitiser available in each classroom, pod and toilet area. All table surfaces, door handles etc will be sanitised several times during the day.
● If your child is unwell, they must not come to school. Children who become unwell during the school day will be immediately isolated and sent home. Staff will not be touching the students in any way unless first aid is required, where gloves are worn. Please wait outside the School Office and a staff member will bring your unwell child to you. Your child will be signed-out by School Office staff. This guideline also applies to staff who will be going home if they are unwell.
● Any visitors to the school office will be managed on a ‘one in, one out’ procedure much like in the past Alert Levels. This is to avoid close contracts and queuing and to allow us to implement our contact tracing with Vistab.
The Ministry of Education in their guidelines state ‘expectation is that, with the exception of some students who are sick or highly compromised health conditions, all students will be attending at Alert Level 2.’ If any of our family is in this situation then you are asked to notify us with DATE and TIME, to advise of your child’s absence period.
Please address your email to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as email@example.com and your child’s teacher. With our usual day to day absences e.g. illness, appointments etc, our usual absence protocols apply whereby you notify the school on a daily basis. We must know where each child is each day and account to the Ministry through our attendance registers.
In terms of lateness to school, please drop your child off at the drop-off zone and ask them to sign-in at the School Office by themselves. School Office staff will help with this process and the normal procedure will apply; a late card will be issued.
One of the most valuable things you can do for your children is to talk with them to prepare them for being at school under Level 2 conditions. Here are some good points to talk about:
- Students must maintain a little distance from friends and teacher (no hugging friends etc). This is spoken of as a ‘moist breath’ zone, for the purpose of our learners understanding this we will be using the words ‘at an arm’s length.’
- Talk positively to the children about being at school to school, to fun times, seeing their teacher and friends again. Assure them that school is a safe place to be and with all our sensible guidelines that are carefully thought through that they will be safe and well looked after. We all feel a little worried about this time and that is why we need to be brave by using our STAR’s ideas to help us move forward together.
Thank you for entrusting your children to us, not quite school as we work through these changes!
School may feel a little ‘unfriendly’ with all the protocols however we are very hopeful that if all this goes well for us and the virus is soon eliminated again, then we can return to the close level of community engagement and involvement that we all enjoy so much.
Together in a spirit of kindness and care for each other, we will get through it. Remember that at times like this the children are looking at the way the adults react and how we conduct ourselves, in order to learn how to behave. If we are acting in an anxious and unsettled manner , they will take their lead from us and this will be how they will be. We teach them so much when we respond in a calm and kind manner.
A good thought to share with your children is that ‘ we are all a bit disappointed that this illness is in New Zealand again, however we are being told by our Prime Minister and Dr Ashley Bloomfield to do some things to help us all stay safe and well. We can do this by following the Alert Level 2 rules, and our Te Totara STARS behaviours. We did this so well last year and the virus went away; we can do it again this time!’
We look forward to seeing you all soon, even if it is just a friendly wave from the car and through the fence!
As before, I will keep you all updated with any other development via the School App alert, the Facebook page and through the school website.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support.
Te Totara Primary School
Last TT TV Episode for 2020
Enjoy the last TT TV episode for 2020 with the TOPPA group's photos of the costumes worn when they performed at the Maori All Blacks v Moana Pasifika game. And the Roving Reporters are out and about again.
In November 2017, ERO visited our school. This is the Government agency that reviews all schools to examine the quality of education provided.