Ministry of Ed Bulletin for Northland and areas of Waikato at Alert Level 3
14 October 2021
Kia ora koutou,
Blue italic text written by Terry Brock
Black text from Ministry of Education
As you know, Government made the early decision to shift our region to Alert Level 3 while health authorities quickly track down contacts, and test and isolate confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community. Today, Minister Hipkins has confirmed we will remain at this level for a further five days until 11.59pm Monday 18 October.
At Alert Level 3 you legally must stay within your household bubble unless for essential personal movement, including going to work and going to school.
We are therefore open on Monday for only the small number of children who need to attend. All our usual safety precautions for Alert Level 3 will be in place which include following all the recommendations from the public health experts.
This means we will regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, encourage everyone to frequently wash their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes, and keep everyone physically distanced from others as much as possible (one metre inside and two metres outside). We will also keep school bubbles to no more than 10 students. These bubbles will not mix with other bubbles.
[For secondary, middle and area schools]. Students in Years 9-13 are also now required to wear face coverings when at school in Alert Level 3, as are the staff. Face coverings are now also required to be worn on school transport for students in Years 9-13.
Our contact tracing systems will be in place, which includes our attendance register and visitor register, and we will be limiting staff onsite with the majority of our team working from home.
You can also assist everyone’s safety by keeping your child at home if they are feeling unwell and please do contact your GP or Healthline, to seek advice about getting tested.
Our staff on-site will have been tested for COVID-19 before they get back to work and we are moving toward having 100% of our staff vaccinated – so we are all playing our part in keeping our community safe.
It is also now legally required that we hold a COVID-19 vaccination register for all eligible students and staff. Note: Otaika Valley School has no 12 year olds therefore is not required to gather this information.
If we were to have a case of COVID-19 in our school, public health authorities will want to know if we are a school with a high vaccination rate. This information will then be used as part of the local health authority’s risk assessment. The more highly vaccinated we are (staff and eligible students), the less likely it will be that we will have to close down for a long period of time, or we might not need to close at all.
We will therefore need to know if your child has had their first or second vaccine dose or is exempted from being vaccinated. This information will be held by us in accordance with the Privacy Act and will only be shared with public health authorities.
We are therefore getting our data collection system in place and will get in touch with you again very soon.
We will continue to support all children who remain learning from home, through our distance learning programme.
While we know how difficult it is trying to work from home as well as support your child’s learning, please keep your child at home if there is an appropriate carer available. For those of you with no other option, we look forward to seeing your child at school next week.
To the parents/caregivers who have filled in the form to register student to attend school under level 3 – you will receive an email confirmation of your registered child with instructions for attendance/health procedures etc.
We are proud of how our community has responded to this outbreak, but the mahi isn’t yet done. Please continue to follow all the alert level requirements including staying at home, getting tested for COVID-19 if you are feeling unwell, and for your own sake and for the health of your whānau, please get vaccinated. I’ve included some information about vaccinations to support decision making.
These are the very best things we can do to keep our community as safe as possible and get everyone back to school.
What about school drop-offs and pick-ups?
For parents conducting student pick-ups and drop-offs, these should occur in an outdoor environment where face coverings must be worn, and physical distancing measures retained. Parents, whānau and caregivers are not required to be vaccinated or tested in order to pick up or drop off children.
Should a decision be made to change alert levels, a period of time of at least 24 hours will be allowed to prepare for schools reopening for face-to-face teaching. Students already attending under Alert Level 3 will need to continue to be supported on-site.
This means Otaika Valley School parents/caregivers do not send their children to school under level 2 until they have heard from Otaika Valley School, through the newsletter. Only previously registered students with confirmation from the principal can attend school.
To complicate matters we have 3 rooms being upgraded with carpet, autex and ceiling fans and extractors. This work is scheduled to be complete by Friday 15th October. Staff are not allowed on site until returning a negative test. If and when we return to level 2 – classrooms will need to be set up for learning with the help of students and programmes will be disrupted for the first few days. We have two bubbles of students and stretched staffing to cover. Three bubbles will be a real staffing issue.