Ministry of Education update #3 on coronavirus, COVID-19

The Ministry of Education has provided all schools with a further information update which is the base of this communication.

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

The situation for all New Zealand is rapidly evolving.

The Government announcement in the weekend requires all arrivals from overseas to self-isolate. It is expected that this will strongly assist in regard to the numbers of cases we do get in New Zealand.

It is important to note we continue to have no confirmed cases in schools or early learning services. The policy decisions being made by Government give us time to plan for future scenarios.

If a student or staff member is confirmed with COVID-19, the most likely scenario is that the Ministry of Health may require a school to close for a day or two, to undertake tracking and tracing of close contacts. A close contact is generally described as someone who was in near proximity (1.5 metres) of a person confirmed with the virus for 15 or more minutes. For those with compromised immunity that is 2 metres.

Today (Monday) the Government announced that gatherings of 500 people or more in close proximity will be cancelled. This includes festivals, fairs, sporting, religious and cultural events. This will be regularly reviewed. The intention of this is to to avoid non-essential gatherings which may facilitate the spread of COVID-19.

Supporting this we will not be holding either school assemblies (over 500 people) or house assemblies (under 500 people) until at least the end of the term.

Likewise, in line with health advice, we are actively encouraging staff, visitors and students not to shake hands, hongi or any similar close physical greeting. 

As has been reported in the media, today all NZ schools were contacted by the Ministry of Education about capacity to deliver online learning if schools were to have to close in the future. It is good that these things are being talked about now. 

Finally, the central part of any communication on COVID-19 remains 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.

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