Kia ora koutou,
And so the next phase of the ‘new normal’ begins. On Monday we will eagerly welcome students back at school. No doubt people are feeling a bit anxious and unsure about this next step, so please be assured that our fabulous team is ready to support our children to reconnect with friends, teachers and routines in a calm and positive way.
We are very aware that children may be nervous about returning to school. Our children have spent nearly eight weeks (or longer) in much smaller environments where there are only a few people, and so we are expecting that they may experience sensory overload from the bigger spaces and much larger numbers of people. We appreciate that they may get very tired and that their anxiety may show in their behaviour. The programmes that teams have planned for the first couple of weeks have taken this very much into account, with a timetable that is much less intense and allows more time for all activities, including very regular eating of snacks! There is more time for outside activities, movement, social connections, discussions and ways to express how they are feeling. Plus a lot of hand washing!
Our pick up and drop off system is quite different at this point in time, as explained in our Level 2 article. This is to help us accommodate the need for all parents and visitors to sign a contact tracing register if they come onto school grounds. Our drop off zone is now located around the edge of the school grounds - please see this photograph. We are very lucky with our school grounds in that they are very open, and allow for spacing along a large curve around the edge of the grounds - we do not need to congregate around several small gated areas, as many schools do. Closing our car park area at key times (between 8:30 - 9:15am, and 2:30 - 3:15pm) will allow us to open up this space much more. This means parents and caregivers can stand in any of the areas shown in yellow on the attached photograph, allowing plenty of room for physical distancing. Please be mindful of leaving 2 metre spaces between you and other people you do not know, and 1 metre spaces between you and people you do know.
In order to prepare for this different system, we recommend the following:
- Make a plan with your child/ren and talk them through it before you leave for school on Monday. If an adult is picking them up, have a designated area where your child can meet them. Check they can tell you where that area is.
- If your child is a bit older, consider allowing them to walk to school by themselves, if appropriate. If not, have a meeting spot that is a little way from the edge of school grounds, where it will be less busy.
- Have older siblings meet or pick up younger siblings and walk off school grounds together. They can meet an adult at a designated meeting spot off school grounds.
- Remind your child about going to a teacher in a high vis vest, if they are unsure of where to go. There will be lots of adults out around the grounds to help them.
- Koru students will stay with their whānau/group teacher after school in the car park area until an adult comes to meet them. If you are picking up a Koru child, please head towards the pick up spaces around the car park, and look for your child's whānau teacher.
It would also be useful to cue your children in to possible changes at school, especially if they are a little older. Let them know that the normal routines may look a little different. Prepare them for the fact that some children may be quite anxious or wanting to keep a bit of distance. They may see people wearing masks, which they may not be used to. If children are prepared for this, and are cued in to being accepting and kind, we will all be able to work together to help each other through this changing time.
Monday morning will be a little strange for us all, but we are sure we will all settle into the new routines very quickly. In order to make this as smooth and easy as possible, we will have three school leaders (myself, Demelza and Lisa) out in the grounds to help welcome students into school and help them get to their hubs. We will also have two Koru teachers out to particularly welcome and support Koru students and take them across the Koru Hub. We will all be out in the grounds from 8:30 - 9am wearing high visibility vests, so students can easily spot us. The very fabulous Navy will be on the road crossing on Amesbury Drive as usual, so that it is safe for children to walk along to school by themselves.
Please also be aware that Kelly Club Before and After School Care programme will be running from Monday 18th May. You can find out more and book in with them here. We have worked closely with Kelly Club staff to ensure that our practices are all aligned, and we will stay in close contact with each other. Parents who are dropping off and picking up at Kelly Club are fine to come onto school grounds, as Kelly Club has a contact register that all parents will sign as their children enter or leave the group. The pick up and drop times will be outside of the time periods when the car park is closed, so you will be able to use the car park to go to Kelly Club to drop off and pick up.
We do know that parents often like or need to communicate with teachers, especially after long breaks away, and we appreciate that the new drop off and pick up system does not allow for this to happen face to face. Please do email your child’s whānau teacher if there is any information you need to pass along. Please also remember to sign up for a connection conference for the following week with your child’s teacher. The email sent on Wednesday 13th May contains an article to help you to book a conference.
If your child/ren will not be returning to school on Monday 18th May, please ensure you have completed the attendance form to let us know. It will also be very important to keep your child away from school if they are unwell. We will need to be vigilant about this at school, and we may need to contact you and send children home from school on a more regular basis than usual if they appear unwell.
We are all very much looking forward to seeing everyone again, and getting back to some degree of normality. It will be nice to be at school when the children will finally outnumber the ducks! On our first day of level 3 we had some very eager new enrolments waiting for the doors to open.
We hope you all have a good week. Stay safe and horoia ō ringaringa! (Wash your hands!)
Ngā mihi nui,
John Bunting (BoT Chairperson) and Urs Cunningham (Acting Principal)