Update – 13 April 2022

Kia ora koutou

As you may be aware, this afternoon, the Prime Minister announced that the country will move to the Orange setting of the Covid-19 Protection Framework (CPF) at 11.59 pm tonight. Please note that the current Halswell School procedures will remain in place for tomorrow but we will start Term 2 in the Orange setting. 

The Board of Trustees has considered the latest advice from the Ministries of Health and Education in deciding what risk mitigation will be retained when school returns on Monday, 2 May. A summary of the changes is below:

  • Gates will be open before school and after 3 pm.
  • Parents and visitors can come onto the grounds but not into Learning Centres. (Please drop your children outside their Learning Centre and avoid congregating in the bag bays).
  • All parents and visitors are required to sign in at the Office between 9 am and 3 pm.
  • Masks are required for parents and visitors on-site at all times.
  • Masks are required indoors for students and staff in Years 4-8.
  • Physical activity can take place inside with a maximum of 100 students, provided that they come from the same Learning Centre.
  • Break times will remain staggered but organised, so Learning Teams will be able to play outside together.
  • Sports events (e.g., cross country and Years 7&8 Hagley Sports) can take place with additional mitigations in place.
  • Itinerant music tutors and kapa haka lessons will return on-site with additional controls in place.
  • Learning Team assemblies can take place in the Stadium.
  • Drinking fountains will be turned on.
  • Sausage Sizzle and Tuck Shop will recommence. 
  • The school grounds will be open to the public outside school hours, and the Stadium will be available for hire.

We are excited to be able to reduce some of the COVID-19 controls that have been in place over the last few months. These new controls will be reviewed regularly as the situation evolves, and we will keep you updated with any developments.

Ngā mihi nui

Stuart Cameron

Principal

Update – 11 March 2022

Re: Changes to isolation periods

Tēnā koutou e te whānau

As you will be aware, at midnight tonight the required isolation period for COVID-19 cases and household contacts will reduce from ten days to seven days. This will mean that household contacts will need to test negative on days three and seven. If both tests are negative and symptoms no longer exist, children can return to school on day eight. 

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are not required to self-isolate past seven days, but they shouldn’t return to school if they are still feeling unwell. Many children will have long-lasting runny noses and coughs after viral infections. If it is over 10 days since the onset of the COVID infection and they are no longer feeling unwell, they are unlikely to be transmitting any active COVID infection and can return to school. However, if they are continuing to feel unwell or their symptoms are worsening after 10 days then a GP review is recommended. For more information, please visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Finally, as the number of COVID cases increases in our region so will the anxiety levels for some children. There is a range of resources available to support families with this. A good starting point is the Ministry of Education’s website. We also have some useful resources available on the student wellbeing page of our school website. 

If you have any further questions, please contact the Office.

Ngā mihi nui

Stuart Cameron

Principal 

Update – 3 March 2022

Kia ora e te Whānau

This is to inform you that we have now received notification of a small number of our students with confirmed cases of COVID-19. It is not possible to accurately ascertain whether some of these children were at school during the contagious period. We are confident that the additional controls we have in place at school will help to reduce some of the risks of transmission but it is important to stay vigilant. If your child(ren) is exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms (including a sore stomach), please keep them at home and get tested as soon as possible.

Moving forward, due to the likelihood that confirmed cases and household contacts will increase rapidly, we will only be contacting whānau if there is a confirmed case of COVID in your child’s studio. We will no longer be sending our school-wide communications about case numbers. Please also note that at Phase 3, we will not be asking learning studios to self-isolate as only household members are now considered close contacts.

If your child needs to isolate because they or a member of your household tests positive, their T group teacher will make contact to provide you with some options for learning at home.  Please see the chart below to work out the 10 day isolation period.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office on 03 3227038.

Ngā mihi nui

Stuart Cameron

Principal

Update – 28 February 2022

As we have now moved to Phase 3, please see the useful flowchart below to help you determine your COVID-19 contact status and how to respond to it.

Update – 25 February 2022

Re: Government Response Plan Phase 3 

Kia ora koutou,

You may well have seen the headlines in the media about the number of cases being seen in schools. Please don’t be alarmed by this. It is only natural, as cases in our community increase, they will appear in our school. We have really good systems in place to respond to this and to keep any spread of the virus – should it appear – to a minimum. 

You may have seen Dr Jin Russell in the media noting research from New South Wales about their recent Omicron outbreak showing that spread within the school setting is very low (less than 4% of cases at school infected someone else when at school). This has been the case in  New Zealand too. This is why we remain open at Red. It’s great for a child’s wellbeing and learning to be at school with their friends and school staff. 

With Phase 3 of the Omicron response, the key change is that it is only confirmed cases and their household contacts who need to self-isolate. Everyone else, including those who may have had close contact with the case but aren’t in the household, must continue to monitor very closely for any symptoms of COVID-19.

This means that as a school we are no longer required to identify close contacts linked to cases within our school community. However, please be assured that as a school, we are committed to keeping you updated regarding any cases that emerge within our school so that we can look after our community together. 

We need your continued support to help keep our children and staff safe. Please continue to keep a really close watch of your whānau for anyone with symptoms. If unwell, please stay at home and get advice about getting a COVID-19 test. If you test positive please let the school know either by calling the Office (03 3227038) or emailing me (principal@halswell.school.nz) directly. 

We appreciate that there is a high level of uncertainty at present, so we urge the community to get prepared and put a plan in place to ensure your child is able to access their Distance Learning Site from home if they need to. This includes planning for device use. Many of our school owned devices will need to remain on site to support learning programmes here, so we will only be in a position to lend devices to students who haveno accessto a device at home. If you have not already completed the device needs survey sent out recently by your T group teacher on Hero, please do so.

This is a timely reminder to say a HUGE thank you for all that you are doing within Red Setting to keep our community safe, especially regarding dropping at the gate. We appreciate that this isn’t easy, but our top priority at the moment is to keep everyone safe and the school functioning.  

Finally, we know how hard the impacts on COVID-19 have been for many families in New Zealand. If you know of a family in our community who is struggling, please encourage them to reach out for support for example to access food, medicine, or access financial support: Help is available – COVID-19 Health Hub.

If you have any questions please contact the School Office (admin@halswell.school.nz or 03 3327038) 

Many thanks for your continued support. 

Update – 22 February 2022

Tēnā koutou e te Whānau

I am pleased to report that the additional controls we have implemented at Phase Two of our Covid-19 plan are now in place and the children have adjusted well to them. We are confident that these controls will reduce the risk of transmission across the school and minimise disruption to learning.

As the number of Covid cases in the community increases, we would like to update you on our response plan if a case is confirmed at school (Phase Three). 

What happens if a member of my household tests positive for Covid-19?

If your child or a household member tests positive for Covid-19, please email Stuart Cameron principal@halswell.school.nz immediately. We would also appreciate you phoning the Office on (03) 3227038 please. 

When the school receives a notification of a confirmed case, we will immediately contact the Ministry of Education, who will assign a dedicated agent to guide us through the response process. This will be done in consultation with the Ministry of Health.

One of the critical steps at this initial stage will be to determine who the close and casual contacts of the ‘case’ are. The Ministry of Education has provided all schools with criteria to help determine the status of each child and staff member. The criteria is based on the following considerations:

  • Were the ‘case’ and any potential contacts wearing masks?
  • Did the contact occur indoors, and if so, were they in a well-ventilated space?
  • How long were the potential contacts and the ‘case’ near each other? 

Each confirmed case will be treated on an individual basis, but in our environment, it is expected that the majority of children and staff in Years 5-8 will not be considered close contacts due to wearing masks, being in large, well-ventilated spaces and having regular breaks outside during the day. In this instance, the staff and students in an affected studio would be considered causal contacts.

If a case was confirmed in a Year 0-2  studio (Ahuriri and Huritini), all staff and children would likely be considered close contacts as they generally do not wear masks. A confirmed case in Ōrongomai (Years 3&4) would require more unpacking as only the Year 4 students are required to wear masks. 

What is the difference between a positive case, household/whānau positive case and a close contact?

Please read the information attached explaining Covid-19 contacts. That will give you a good understanding of how contacts will be classified.

What happens if my child is considered a close or casual contact? 

A flowchart is attached that details what actions need to be taken based on an individual’s status i.e., case, close contact and casual contact.  Please familiarise yourself with this information. 

Thank you for your ongoing support. If you have any questions please contact the Office on 03 3227038.

Ngā mihi nui

Stuart Cameron

Principal

Update – 18 February 2022

Due to the escalating number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Christchurch, the Board of Trustees has decided to move to Phase 2 of our Halswell School response plan. This will take effect on Monday 21 February.

The rationale for moving phases is to reduce the risk of widespread transmission by limiting the potential for close contacts if a case appears in our school. 

To achieve this, the following additional controls will be put in place from Monday:

  • Studio ends will work as autonomous groups, effectively creating separate ‘bubbles’.   
  • Break times will be staggered during the day to reduce the number of children playing outside at any one time. This is an important consideration for a school of our size. Children will be allocated dedicated areas to play in. The shared areas will be rotated to ensure that they have enough space and variety to continue to enjoy their break times.
  • As the school gates don’t open until 8.30 am, please ensure that your children arrive after this to help reduce large groups congregating outside the gates. 
  • When children arrive, they will need to go straight to their learning studios to reduce contact with students from other areas of the school.  
  • Drinking fountains will be turned off, so please ensure that your child brings a full water bottle with them.
  • Externally provided lessons such as itinerant music and kapa haka will not take place as many of these tutors work across multiple sites. If your child(ren) receives private itinerant music lessons, please contact the tutors directly to make alternative arrangements.  
  • Camps and large school events will be postponed until later in the year. 
  • It is imperative that if your child shows any signs of illness, they must stay at home.

We anticipate that these changes may unsettle children, so we would really appreciate you taking some time to talk with your children about what to expect over the weekend. We have been incredibly impressed at how well our students, staff and community have adapted to the changes so far and know that everyone will respond positively to these new challenges.

We understand that a few children may still need a parent to come on-site with them in the mornings, e.g. New Entrants in their first week at school. For everyone’s safety, please keep your visits brief and only come onsite if it is essential for your child’s wellbeing. Please continue to sign in through the office and refrain from entering any learning centres. 

Rest assured that in the event of a confirmed case in our school, we have a very clear plan in place to respond to this. Part of this involves dedicated support and guidance from the Ministers of Health and Education. 

We will continue to update the covid-19 page of our school website as new information comes to hand. Please keep an eye on this and your Hero notifications. Check your Hero preferences to ensure you are receiving notifications from us. If you are unsure about how to do this, please contact the Office.

Finally, thank you for your ongoing support, patience and understanding. These are not easy times to navigate, but we will get through this if we continue to work together. He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.  

Ngā mihi nui

Stuart Cameron
Principal 

Update – 16 February 2022

Tēnā koutou te Whānau

The following information is designed to provide an overview for parents and whānau regarding what to expect at the different ‘traffic lights’ within the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) for our school. We are currently at the Red setting.

Within the Red setting, we have planned for a three-phase approach. 

  • Phase One – little or no community transmission in the Canterbury region.
  • Phase Two – active transmission in the Canterbury region.
  • Phase Three – confirmed cases within our school community 

The rationale for this approach is to be able to operate as ‘normally’ as possible whilst allowing us to quickly respond to the risk of transmission if and when it increases. Below we have detailed what Phase  1 will look like for our school. We will continue to revise this, and further develop additional Phase 2 and 3 procedures as the situation develops and in response to information we receive from the Ministries of Health and Education.

Our community is at the heart of our school and we will be working to ensure we are able to include our school whānau and community where at all possible. However, at all times this will be in line with the Covid Protection Framework and our ongoing risk assessment based approach to the planning of events. The safety of our ākonga (learners), staff and community must continue to be our first priority.

School is open for on-site learning for all students and schools are prohibited from requiring students to be vaccinated to access education.

How we will be keeping our school safe across all CPF settings?

Basic Hygiene Basic hygiene measures include good hand hygiene, cough, and sneeze etiquette, avoiding touching your face, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces

 Maintain good hygiene | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Contact Tracing methods at Halswell SchoolPlease scan our school QR Code for the NZ COVID Tracer App whenever you enter the school site

If you need to come onsite, please sign in through the school office. Please note, we no longer use the School App so parents are not required to sign in using the app’s Covid tracing feature 

VaccinationFrom 2 January 2022, only fully vaccinated staff and support people can have contact with our ākonga (learners). This will include parents, whānau and volunteers supporting us in classrooms or on trips/camps etc. The MoH and MoE have recently mandated booster shots for all adults working with children in schools. This will apply to individuals based on the date of their second vaccination. 
If staff, students or community members are sickIf you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home. Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested. Parents and caregivers of any children presenting as unwell will be asked to collect their children. 
VentilationWe will ensure our indoor spaces are well ventilated while in use, for example by opening windows, doors, and any vents, and keep a close check on the Co2 monitors in each Learning Centre.

What happens if there is a case in our school?

We have been informed by the Ministries of Health and Education that cases of COVID-19 in a school will continue to be managed across the CPF. If cases occur within our school we will work with the Ministry of Education, following public health guidance, to identify who else may need to self-isolate and get tested. Our contact tracing systems will support this process so please ensure you are scanning in via our QR code if you are coming onto the site and signing in at the Office.

In line with the guidance from MOE and MOH, our school will plan to be open for on-site learning for all students throughout all settings of the CPF. It is important to note that schools are prohibited from requiring students to be vaccinated to access education. 

We have been told that closing schools on-site is an unlikely option within the CPF framework. However, it may be considered if we were to have a high volume of cases within our school. 

Understanding some of the jargon within the Covid Protection Framework settings

Curriculum related activitiesThese are activities for our students that directly relate to teaching and learning and are planned for within our curriculum. Examples include; Technology (Years 7 and 8), assemblies, examinations and shared facilities across schools. 

Camps, trips and Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) are classed as curriculum activities but will be risk-assessed on a case by case basis. 

Non-curriculum related activitiesThese are activities that tend to bring others on site (including our parents and whānau) for events, creating an audience. This includes things like Prize Givings, productions and spectators for our sporting events. For these activities, our school will need to follow CPF guidance for events relevant to the setting we are in at the time. 
Parents and whānau supporting children’s learningAs mentioned above, schools are prohibited from requiring vaccination to access education. This includes parents, caregivers and whānau supporting students and their learning. This means that for events that involve parents engaging with teachers to help support their children’s learning (such as meeting with teachers to discuss concerns) we will not be requiring proof of vaccination. This will mean that strict public health measures will be in place to keep our staff and school community safe, and at Orange and Red CPF settings these activities may be offered virtually e.g. phone call or Zoom.

Red Covid Protection Framework Setting

At Red, action will need to be taken to protect both at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations. Schools and kura are open for on-site learning for all students. Schools are prohibited from requiring students to be vaccinated to access education. This includes parents, caregivers and whānau supporting students and their learning. 

The MOE has stipulated that at Red Setting there are to be no non-essential visitors on site. This means that we will be actively working to minimise the number of people on our school grounds. However, please be assured that our school community will still be able to come on-site by prior arrangement with the school or class teacher. We envisage that this will be for situations such as pre-arranged meetings with teachers and settling children who may need additional support. Please make contact with either the School Office or your child’s class teacher if you need to make such an arrangement. 

Please note that all children starting at Halswell School for the first time may have one parent accompany them to their classroom doors to settle them for the first week.  At all times we will be working to support student wellbeing and learning while adhering to the Red Setting. 

Arrangements for drop off (8.30-9am) and pick up (2.50 – 3.00pm)We are actively working to ensure there are no non-essential visitors on site.

Where possible, pick up and drop off for students is to happen at the gate. 

Please wear a mask when dropping off or collecting your children from the gate. 

Pick up information Ahuriri children will need to be picked up from outside the hall.

Huritini  and Orongomai children will exit through the main gate by the office or the scooter/bike gate if appropriate. Ōtāwhito and Ōtūmatua children will exit through the Kennedy’s Bush gatesAdults collecting children will need to socially distance themselves on the pavements outside school gates. Please leave promptly to reduce congestion.

I need to talk to my child’s teacher or a member of staff. What should I do? In the first instance, please contact your child’s teacher or staff member via email or by phone (via the Office)

Your child’s teacher will make contact and then organise a phone call, meeting or virtual meeting with you as needed. 

Can I come into the School Office? Yes but please wear a mask
What should I do if I need to come onto site during the school day (9am-3pm)? Only those with a pre-arranged appointment or arrangement should enter the school during the school day. 

If you have a pre-arranged visit, please scan in using the NZ Covid Tracer App and then sign in at the School Office. 

If your child has forgotten belongings or you need to pass on a message, please contact the School Office and they will tell you what to do. 

Masks during the school dayThe Ministry of Education has stipulated that masks are required
  • For all ākonga Years 4 and up when indoors or in close contact with others 
  • For staff working to provide or support the provisions of education for Years 4 and up 
  • For the Ōrongomai Team, masks will be optional for Year 3s, but required for our Year 4s
  • On school transport for all ākonga aged 12 and up.
Children with complex medical needsChildren with complex medical needs can seek advice from their health professional about whether it is appropriate to come to school. Please contact the school so that we can develop a plan to support attendance on site. 
Curriculum related activitiesLarge activities with students will not go ahead unless they have been risk-assessed to be able to happen safely outdoors 
Non-curriculum related activitiesNon-curriculum related events will be limited and may only go ahead if a vaccination certificate is required. No external students will be allowed on site for non-curriculum related inter-school activities.
Staffing within our school Essential support services and agencies such as learning support services may be on site. We will be working to minimise attendance on-site for non-essential services as much as possible to ensure we have no non-essential visitors on site. 

Fully vaccinated staff who work in other schools (such as itinerant music teachers and relief teachers) will be able to come onto the site but must wear a mask. 

Additional considerations for learning We will be working to minimise, as much as possible, staff working across groups/classes of students

For singing, participants must be outside and two metres distant from each other. No singing should take place inside. 

Wind instruments are not to be shared and limited to home use, or outside only.

Distance LearningWe will support off-site learning for those required to self-isolate or are waiting for a test result. Support will also be available for children with complex medical needs, especially if not fully vaccinated, and who are learning from home following advice from a health professional
Food and Drink at SchoolThe tuckshop and sausage sizzle are not operating

The drinking fountains are available for children

Phase Two

(Active transmission in the Canterbury region)

All of the procedures detailed above will continue at Phase Two with the following additional mitigation measures in place.

Limiting Visitors Onsite

Where practical all visits to our site will be arranged in advance via the Office.

Face to face meetings with staff and visitors will only take place in exceptional circumstances.

Communication with staff will be via phone, email or Zoom.

Kapa haka and music lessons will not take place.

School events and camps will not take place. We will try to reschedule these for later in the year if possible.

Reduced Groupings

Strategies will be put in place to reduce contact between larger groups of children. This may include staggered playtimes and/or designated play areas for Learning Teams. Teams are likely to operate as autonomous groups.

Phase Three

(Confirmed cases within our school community)

If cases are confirmed in our school community, we will be working closely with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to contain further transmission. The Ministries have been planning for this scenario for several months and have dedicated personnel ready to support schools if cases are confirmed. Part of this strategy will involve reducing the groups of children down further to limit contact between staff and students and having additional staff available if teachers need to be at home self-isolating.

At Phase Three we will also reintroduce our Distance Learning Programme for students who need to isolate at home.

Finally, one of the critical elements in reducing the risk of transmission at all phases is being vigilant about covid symptoms. If your child is showing any signs of illness they must stay at home until all symptoms have stopped. The school reserves the right to send any child home if they are exhibiting signs of illness.

This will no doubt mean an increase in sick days for our staff and children. With this in mind, the Ministry of Health has created some resources for families to help prepare for widespread community transmission of the Omicron variant. A readiness checklist (attached) has been put together, and more information is available here.

Thank you for your support and understanding that we all have a collective responsibility for keeping our children, staff and community safe. Please make sure the contact details we have on file are up to date, so we can get in touch with you if needed.