COVID-19 declared a pandemic

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As noted by the Minister of Health, this doesn’t change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. 

We have 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home.  Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. The newest known cases have no links to any schools. 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.

For our school, our pandemic plan is also ready to be implemented if needed. In the meantime we will 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:

Here is information from the Ministry of Education’s website giving advice on how to talk to children who may be feeling anxious

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. I will be encouraging my staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same with your children. Colds and flus are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practicing good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.

Over the next couple of days education advisors are meeting with the Ministry of Education to discuss plans around possible closures of schools in the future. As part of our own planning it would be helpful for us to gain some understanding around families being able to learn from home for a period of time. If you could please click here to complete a short survey on access to internet from home, access to devices at home and, for school-home communication purposes – if you have downloaded and are using School Stream?

The MOH and MOE are closely monitoring the situation and keeping schools informed. We will keep you updated with information as it comes available.

Ngā mihi

Kim Allan