Ministry of Education update #2 on coronavirus, COVID-19

At the end of last week the Ministry of Education provided all schools with a further information update which is the base of this communication. It has been updated to include the weekend’s developments.

Kia ora koutou. Talofa. Kia Orana. Malo e lelei. Bula. Fakaalofa atu. Namaste and Kumusta. Greetings to our LCŌ Community.

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. 

The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. Yesterday (Saturday) saw a significant development in the Government’s response.

Before the weekend the Government had already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This included border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases.Thsese four countries were on this list as they account for more than 90% of cases globally. China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

Since then the Government has introduced further actions. Yesterday (14 March) the Government announced new border measures, a ban on cruise ships entering New Zealand waters and other provisions. Many of these take effect from 23:59 on Sunday 15 March.

The link to the most recent – 14 March – Ministry of Health update is:

We have 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. All are doing well. Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. While we expect that more cases will arise, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. We all have a role to play in this.

An essential part of the message is to continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.

With that, there is a good video clip from Nanogirl that will help your children to better understand the virus – YouTube clip – Nanogirl

You may have also seen the Prime Minister sat down with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard, to talk about coronavirus:

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. As requested by the Ministry of Health schools are encouraging their staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. We are asked that we please do the same with our children. Colds and flus are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practising good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.

While not prejudging the future, discussion has already begun about how schools will manage if the situation worsens. While the new measures are designed precisely to prevent the situation becoming worse, it is impossible to be certain as to what may happen. In the interests of being prepared, discussion is occurring as to the measures schools could take if the situation deteriorates. We hope that any such plans will not need to be implemented but we will have them ready, if required, to respond both to the requirements for public health and access to education. Finlay Laird, our BOT chair, and I are in close contact about this and we are following advice from the Ministry of Health who in turn advises the Ministry of Education and the School Trustees’ Association.

I will put out another communication either immediately if there is a further update or within the next 2-3 days.

Ngā mihi

Richard Edmundson