Newsletter (start of year) / Pānui (tīmataka o te tau)

Talofa lava, kia orāna, kumusta, kia ora e te whānau o Hato Ani!

Welcome to the 2022 school year!

We hope that you have had a restful and fun time with family and friends over the holiday season. I was lucky enough to spend some time in Rotorua with whānau over Christmas and then staying around the East Cape. I had never been and it was beautiful to see another part of the country.

We are lucky to be receiving two new classrooms this year (commencing term 1 holidays at this stage) and upgrading two more after that is finished. We currently have a full roll and are starting with all seven classrooms. The class numbers are nice at the moment as it is either six very full rooms or seven nice sized classrooms.

Staff have been back at school for some time planning, shifting rooms, creating the most beautiful rooms and preparing. I will upload some photos of the rooms soon. We are all very excited about the children returning next week. We have a fun year of learning ahead, even under the current circumstances. Today before discussing our pandemic planning, we discussed some great plans for this year! We also finished with an Escape Room for a bit of fun (see picture).

Speaking of using all classrooms, Kidsbase will now be in Room 8. This is next to Room 7 in the Mission Centre. It has been there in the past and is the best place for this year (at least until building work is complete). Something to be aware of if you are dropping them off to Kidsbase early on Tuesday! Maybe walk them to the door so they don’t get lost.

We are a Catholic school and community! It defines us from a public school. This year we have a focus of being a Witness of Christ. This isn’t like a witness in court but more like, the way we act, speak, look, and even think should reflect Jesus and His ways. For those who want that defined or simplified, Jesus showed love for others, no matter who. Therefore our actions, words, and thoughts should reflect love and care. Keep this in the centre of your minds during these challenging times.

Procedures and information
As you will be well aware, the Prime Minister announced that the whole country is in the Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework. It is the government and Ministry of Education’s intention to keep all schools open even if there are cases of COVID-19 within students or staff. We will keep you fully informed. Things are regularly changing and often announced and then a lag before we receive the information. Thanks for your patience.

We are not able to have any “unnecessary” gatherings during red, and so similar to last year, we will record what we can. The great thing about this is we had so many views on each video and we have an outdoor stage! Far more whānau than those who make events viewed the videos last year.

School starts on Tuesday the 1st of February 2022 at 9am.

The school grounds are open at 8.30am when a bell goes to signal that students can enter cloakrooms and classrooms. It has been requested by the Ministry that all parents and whānau do not enter the school grounds unless it is necessary. If it is necessary for you to come onto the school grounds we ask that you do not enter the classrooms unless you have made an appointment with a teacher. The exception to this is New Entrant (children new to school) parents and whānau who can take them to class if needed. Also, if your child is really worried or anxious that day (I’m a parent too! I know what it is like). This is the same at all schools.

A reminder that parents / caregivers / older siblings need a mask for when they are on school grounds.

Pick up
Again, this will be on the basketball court. Please wait on the court for your children to come out. We will stagger the pick up so not all are running into each other at the same time. The staggered pick up will be the opposite of last year for a few reasons. It is:
Rm 7 (2.45pm)
Rm 6
Rm 5
Rm 4
Rm 3
Rm 2
Rm 1 (2.55pm)

If students have siblings, the eldest will wait outside their classrooms once released. For example, if a Room 7 student has a sister in Room 2, he will wait outside her class for her and come around together. Therefore, all of you children should come around when the youngest does. The times above show the start and finish and it is more about the order so you know by the teacher who comes around with them.
Note: Please take care if you are dropping off your child/children. Ensure they use the crossing and do not get out of the car on the roadside.

Please ensure that your child/children have the correct equipment and uniform on Tuesday (including black shoes and a school hat) so they can make the best possible start to the year. Please name all uniforms and school equipment. Masks can be of any colour or design for Rooms 5-7, let them choose!
NOTE: The only exemption of the mandate for masks are for year 4s in a combination class of year 3s. Therefore, if you have a year 4 in Room 4, they are not required to wear a mask (i.e. Room 4 do not have to, but may if you wish them to). The same rule applies to the teacher in that room. This is the only flexibility schools have.

Stationery Changes (all):
-We would like to add a small pencil case to the stationery list for all children. Big ones can take up too much of the desk or not fit in tote trays so please aim for a smaller size. We feel sharing pens and pencils is probably not the best option at the moment.
Stationery Changes (Rooms 5-7):
-Students in Rooms 5, 6 and 7 are welcome to have their own hand sanitiser and small sunscreen this year as we have ordered (due any day) individual desks for all students in these classrooms. These two things along with a small pencil case will easily fit in these so is an option for your child.
-Mask-any colour or design as above.

The school office will be open on Monday 11am – 3pm for any other needs you might have.

It could be now or never! We are looking good for Wednesday! Mr Isherwood is pumped and ready to go. He has met the parent helpers who are ready to go also. The weather is looking great. Please see other posts on Skool Loop if your child is in Room 7 regarding camp. We are still waiting on some permissions.

COVID Information
Ventilation: We have used the Ministry of Education self-assessment tool to review all our ventilation in readiness for the start of the year. Providing good old fashioned fresh air remains the most important thing we can do in our learning spaces to minimise risk for ākonga and kaiako. We luckily have heat pumps in all rooms so windows and doors can be option and the temperature is still good for learning.

Face coverings: All staff and children in Years 4 – 13 must wear face coverings when inside at school when we are at Red. For those who have Year 4-8, please ensure students bring a named face mask to school to wear in the classroom. They are not required to wear them to and from school nor when outside for work, sport or at break times.
Public health advice is that an appropriate face covering will fit snugly and seal well around facial contours. We have been working with a speech language specialist regarding the most up to date strategies with mask use, which we hope will be helpful for the time we need to do this.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website also has information on
how to make a face covering.

For those of you with children who might be reluctant to wear a face covering, there is some helpful advice from Michigan Health. Here we go back to what I said earlier about ‘love’ and ‘care’. Remind students that the main reason for wearing a face mask is to limit passing germs or viruses to others. Our students are very caring so remind them that a face mask is showing others you care about them because you don’t want them to catch anything off you. 

Some students may be unable to wear masks due to health reasons. An exemption is a good idea here so other children see it is not just because they don’t want to.

If any child appears to be unwell or has cough/cold/fever symptoms, parents will be contacted and asked to pick their child up. While we appreciate that parents need to be at work, we have an obligation to ensure that students and our staff are not exposed to unwell children. We ask for your support in keeping your child home if they have a cough, runny nose, or fever.

Managing cases in our school: We have a good contact tracing system in place so that if there is a confirmed case who has been at school while infectious, we can quickly identify who was a close contact of that person. We will then quickly advise those contacts of what they need to do.

Only if the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education advises to do so, would we consider closing a physical onsite school and moving to distance learning for everyone. At Red we will keep everyone learning onsite for as long as we can.

Please make sure your contact details we have on file are up to date, so we can get in touch with you if needed.

Preparing for COVID-19: You can also prepare for COVID-19, making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. This will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed. Find out more on these links: 

Self-isolating at home because of COVID-19: Many people will be able to manage self-isolation with help from friends and whānau, but there is help available if you need it – both with health support and access to food and other essentials.

If you know anyone in your community affected by COVID-19 and who may need help, such as food and other financial assistance, Work and Income has a range of support available for individuals, families, employers and self-employed people affected by COVID-19.

Basic Hygiene: At school we follow good hand hygiene, cough, and sneeze etiquette, avoid touching your face, and regularly clean and disinfect surfaces. We use hand sanitiser at entrances to indoor spaces.

Complex medical needs: Children with complex medical needs can seek advice from their health professional about whether it is appropriate to come to school. Support for off-site learning will be provided for those who are advised to remain at home, but is not guaranteed for those who choose to remain at home. The teachers are currently preparing to help as many students as possible for as much of the time as possible. Please understand that the workload can be intense but we will try our best for all!

We look forward to seeing you all next week!

Kā mihi nui,

Dallas and the leadership team