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Amesbury School

Amesbury Digest - 23rd March 2020

Kia ora koutou,

I would like to say a huge thanks to our school community for the sensible approach that many people are taking at this unknown and worrying time. Staying calm and rational will be hugely important in helping our young people to know how to cope. 

We have a number of families who are self isolating because a member of their family or household has recently returned from travelling overseas. We are very appreciative of the steps you are taking to ensure the whole community stays safe and healthy. We are proud of the way that our community is working together to support each other at this time. Just a reminder to talk with your children about the virus in a way that makes it clear that this coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and is not culturally linked to any particular group of people. As we are seeing, it is affecting people all over the world, regardless of culture or ethnic origins.

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. We have been planning for this and we are in a position to respond quickly, if necessary.

1) As soon as a case is confirmed in our immediate school community (e.g. a student, or member of their household, a staff member, or member of their household), the Medical Officer of Health and Ministry of Education will inform me about this, and we will work together to get quick and clear messaging out to you.

2) 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 undertaken.

3) If our school does need to close temporarily, we have a plan in place to support students' learning. Parents can be assured that teachers will be in regular contact to continue, as best they can, learning from home.

Students in Harakeke and Pōhutukawa hubs all have their own Chromebooks. They will have the option to take their school Chromebook home to assist with their ongoing learning, in the case of school being closed for an unknown period of time. We have a home-use agreement that we will share with parents in the next few days, to help parents know the expectations around taking school devices home. This includes how to use the device appropriately, and how to transport it safely to and from school. If parents sign the home-use agreement, they can then keep the school Chromebook at home during the period of school closure. Students in Koru Hub do not need to use a device nearly as much for their ongoing learning. Some access to a device will be useful for them, but they do not need it to the same extent as older students.

Good hygiene remains a top priority at our school. We are reinforcing this regularly with all students and staff. We know that practising good hygiene is still the best thing we can all do to prevent illness. We are reminding all students to thoroughly wash their hands consistently with soap and water, and all high touch surfaces (such as tables, bench tops, sinks, door handles etc.) are cleaned daily with disposable cloths.

Given the Prime Minister's announcement over the weekend, we will be postponing student conferences in Week 11. No other large group activities or events will be going ahead for the rest of this term; this includes whole school activities such as school singing or gatherings. Ongoing learning programmes and routines within hubs will be kept as normal as possible, where appropriate.

We are receiving the most up to date advice and guidance from the MoE and MoH so that we can confidently make informed decisions about the safety and well-being of our school community.

I would like to acknowledge our whole staff, who despite all that is going on around us, continue to ensure that our school remains a calm, safe place, while remaining steadfast in their unconditional commitment to our students and their learning and wellbeing. Spending time in our admin spaces and hubs over the last few days, I have been extremely proud of our staff and the way that they are working hard to support all of our students and whānau, and keep our regular structures and routines going.

I hope everyone has a peaceful week.

Ngā mihi nui,

Urs Cunningham


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