Amesbury School

Kia ora koutou,

There has been a lot of discussion and media attention on the vaccination mandate that comes into effect on Monday 15th November (this week). I would now like to let parents and whānau know what the mandate means for Amesbury School.

The mandate is a Public Health Order that requires vaccination for all workers, paid and voluntary, who carry out work at an early learning service or school that means they have direct contact with tamariki or they are present at the school or learning service when tamariki are present. This means that all staff and other people who carry out work whilst our ākonga (students) are present at school must be vaccinated. It also covers all parents and whānau who volunteer at school while ākonga are present.

The mandate does not cover people who do not work at the school or are not engaged directly by the school, such as staff running programmes for schools or learning centres offsite, such as libraries, camps, activity centres etc. In these cases, the centres will need to decide for themselves what their policy is towards vaccination of their staff, and schools need to decide what their policy is around working with these groups.

Our Board of Trustees has discussed this issue at length, and has also consulted with staff on this. Their approach is that our school will only work with groups and organisations who require their staff working with students to be vaccinated. The Board understands that we cannot protect our tamariki from absolutely all risks of Covid - it is inevitable that in day to day life they they will come into contact with unvaccinated people. However, the Board feels it is incumbent upon them to take all reasonable steps to mitigate risks as much as possible, and one key way to do this is by ensuring that all people who work directly with students, either onsite at school or offsite, are vaccinated.

There are a lot of different situations that the mandate and the Board of Trustees’ decision will impact, and there may well be situations we have not yet considered or dealt with that may need some working through as we come across them. However, some key areas that I can clarify for you at this point are:

All staff working at school will be vaccinated. All parent and whānau volunteers at school will be required to be vaccinated, including volunteers working with groups at locations away from school, such as camps, Beach Ed etc.

- All people providing a service onsite at school while children are present are required to be vaccinated (our building crew, tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, gardening services etc.). If they attend a job outside of school hours they are not required to be vaccinated.

- Other educators providing services onsite at school need to be vaccinated.

- Parents dropping off or picking up children do not need to be vaccinated. We ask that people scan in, and wear a mask where possible.

- Parents attending meetings or events at school are not required to be vaccinated. (The Order only applies to workers and volunteers, not people who are just visiting the school.)

- Our Board of Trustees requires all people working directly with our children offsite, such as Beach Ed, ASB coaching, camp staff etc, to be vaccinated.

- Individual situations and contexts will be taken into account with offsite groups who are not covered by the mandate, e.g. where a group or individual will not be working directly with students in an offsite situation, it may be considered that health and safety requirements can be covered through appropriate measures such as distancing and masking (for adults).

I am sure there will be other situations that arise where we will need to consider our school approach. There is a lot to think about quite quickly, and we will keep working through this as we go. Please be assured that as we do this we will keep the safety of our ākonga and staff, and their whānau, at the centre of our decision making.

On a slightly different but related note around safety of our tamariki, we are aware of some students playing games based on a popular TV series called Squid Games. It is our understanding, from what we can tell from their talk, that some of our tamariki may be watching this series. If that is not the case, that is fine, but we wanted to bring this to parents’ attention, just in case.

Squid Games is most definitely a series for adults only. It has a name that may sound like it is child friendly, and it is based around popular childhood games, so parents and whānau who have not watched it themselves may feel it is okay for younger tamariki to watch. This series is not suitable for young viewers and it is good for all parents to be aware of this. Here is a review of the series, which may help you to know a little more about the programme.

Kia pai tō wiki - enjoy your week.

Ngā mihi, 

Urs Cunningham

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