Ministry of Education update #4 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.

LCŌ decisions today (Tuesday)

The following decisions have been made in consultation with Mr Finlay Laird, our BOT chair. While they  will assist in minimising infection risk, their primary purpose is to support the foundational need for students to have routine and their regular teachers, and because of a shortage of relievers.

For the rest of the term, starting immediately:

  1. No Yr 7-10 or Yr 11-13 school trips that necessitate relievers.
  2. No Yr 7-10 school trips for juniors that involve other schools or groups.
  3. No staff attending school day courses that necessitate relievers.
  4. No large gatherings, 50+ people.
  5. Therefore no house assemblies or whole school assemblies.
  6. No whole-staff meetings    

These decisions are for the rest of term 1 and then will be reviewed. It is recognised that external circumstances and regulations may supersede these before the end of term.

Possible COVID-19 case in a school

As has been reported in the media, this afternoon (Tuesday) the Ministry of Health’s Director-General  announced a possible case of COVID-19 in a school, Logan Park HS in Dunedin. The student, whose father was today confirmed as having tested positive, is currently in self-isolation and awaiting the results of a test. The test results are expected tomorrow.

If it is negative, the student will remain in self-isolation as they have been in close contact with their father.

If it is positive, health authorities will ask the school to close for 48 hours while close contacts are traced and put in self isolation for 14 days. Casual contacts will also be provided with information so that they know any symptoms to monitor for and where to go to if they become unwell. They do not need to self-isolate.

Close contacts of the father will also be in self-isolation.

As a precaution, the school is undertaking a careful clean of their school tonight, so that all surfaces in classrooms, door handles, bathroom surfaces etc. will have been cleaned in accordance with guidance from the Ministry of Health.

Health authorities have been very clear in their advice which is while we wait for the result, there is no reason that children should not be going to school.

Reminder – who needs to self-isolate?

The Government announcement at the weekend requires anyone who has arrived from overseas after 1am on Monday 16 March to self-isolate for 14 days, and to register with Healthline (0800 358 5453). The exception is people arriving from specified Pacific countries (“Category 2” countries as listed here), who do not need to self-isolate if they are not unwell.

People who arrived from overseas before 1am on Monday 16 March are not required to self-isolate, unless they have travelled from South Korea or Iran. Travellers from those countries need to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their departure and register with Healthline.

People living in the same house as travellers who are required to self-isolate, need to minimise contact with them (avoiding being closer than 2 metres apart for more than 15 minutes). However, they are not required to self-isolate themselves.

Encouraging student attendance

Throughout New Zealand some parents have concerns about their children attending school at the moment. Some of this may be due to what they are seeing in the media about other countries.

There’s a simple rule here – if students are unwell (whether or not their illness relates to COVID-19) they should stay at home. Students who are not unwell should continue to attend school.

At present, while we are seeing large-scale school shutdowns elsewhere in the world, in New Zealand we still have no community transmission. Consequently any decisions about school closures will be made on a case by case basis. In the meantime, unless students are unwell themselves, then parents should keep sending them to schools and early learning centres as these environments continue to be safe and the best place for them to continue their learning.

Attached is a 3′ 5″ interview from this morning with Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Education, about school attendance.

A dedicated 0800 Healthline COVID-19 phone number

Healthline has a dedicated line for COVID-19 enquiries with translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages:

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