16 February 2022

Kia ora e te Whānau o Te Kura a Rohe o Whaingaroa

Everyone has become more aware of the impact that Covid-19, and in particular, the Omicron strain, is having as it moves into Aotearoa communities nationwide. This newsletter is being shared with you all to update you on what is happening currently in our school. We also want to give you a heads up with regards to our response planning for the possibility of increased Covid-19 positive cases.

We currently have a confirmed case of Covid-19 in our kura. We have had direct contact with all of the whānau of the students and staff who are considered to be close contacts. These families have all received clear guidance on how they can respond to this news and the students and staff are at home self-isolating.

For all other students, we encourage you to continue coming to school. We are doing everything that we can to enable this to happen safely. The following key points remain relevant for us all to consider.

  1. Continue to mask, scan and use your vaccine pass wherever you go.
  2. Be vigilant with good hygiene, physical distancing and stay home if unwell.
  3. Get all eligible members of your household fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, I want to provide you with an update and insights into some of the planning for the next few weeks. There is a positive vibe around the school as we delve into Week 2 of the school year. Staff and students are enjoying being together back at school. The school is fully staffed, and everyone is refreshed and enthusiastic about being back. 

The Board of Trustees, principal and senior staff have been discussing and planning for possible Term 1 scenarios. We are anticipating scenarios and ways to manage these if significant numbers of staff and students test positive for Covid or become close contacts. 

There are many aspects to plan for which will require agility over the coming weeks, if, as expected Omicron cases increase. The school will keep you informed but the lead time may be short as changes happen quickly in the current environment and changes to planning increases anxiety for many people. We will need your trust, help, and support over the coming weeks.

Raglan Area School is prioritising staying open with students as much as possible. We are cognisant of the needs of parents for this and the value of routines and structure in all our lives. We ask for your support where we may need to provide online learning from home if events beyond our control determine this or where it is a prudent way for us to manage our programmes.

Main priorities for Term 1 Weeks 2-5

  1.   Preserving staff health and well-being

Staff have a higher risk of contracting Covid, especially Omicron from students and others in the community and are more likely to become unwell compared to students. If colleagues are away and staff are covering for them, this will take its toll on them. Raglan Area School will look at how to mitigate these impacts.

  1.   Raglan Area School  wants to provide as much on-site learning at school as is possible

Students have missed out on a lot of learning at school over the last two years and while Raglan Area School and other local schools have navigated this period well we want to increase being on-site in 2022. We also know that students can learn effectively with a combination of remote and face to face programmes. Staff are planning ways to use these methods effectively this year.

If Omicron does not have the impact suggested by the case number modelling, Raglan Area School will endeavour to be open with all students here as much as possible and all the time once this phase has waned.

  1.   Proposed strategies for dealing with large staff absences

It is currently anticipated that Omicron may soon result in significant numbers of staff being away at one time. If this happens the school will not be able to provide supervision on site for all students. It will be difficult to run the whole school if 20% or more staff are away from illness or isolation. We will need strategies to meet the needs that emerge at the time, and this will cause an extra load for teachers who are at school. 

To manage this a proportional amount of the school week may be shifted to online learning for students in Years 10-13 (as this age group are able to stay home unsupervised). We are investigating ways for Years 0-9 students (who are not able to be supervised at home) to still be able to come to school and to be supervised on-site.

Students at school may have programmes adapted but the response will be determined at the time. We ask for your support and encouragement in whatever we implement as this will be the best possible solution at that time in response to the given circumstances. Hopefully, such regimes will only be required for a short time and the school would get back to functioning fully as soon as is manageable.

  1.   Providing co-curricular opportunities

Raglan Area School co-curricular music, sport, culture, clubs, and fun events are legendary. Many students have missed out on activities such as these that provide many of their best and most memorable experiences and build lifelong friendships. This year we want to retain these activities where possible and find creative ways to do this instead of cancelling them.

  1.   Request for students’ vaccination status

Raglan Area School wants to be inclusive and provide activities for as many students as possible. Many external providers and many interschool and community events, however, require students to be fully vaccinated. The school is required to verify this information to maintain individuals’ privacy and avoid embarrassment. As teams and groups are being set up now and entered for various competitions and other activities the school needs this information as soon as possible.

Students need to know and meet the requirements to be able to be included in some of these activities. To help the school ensure students meet the requirements for different situations, we need to have students’ current vaccination information. Parents do not have to provide this but if not given, students will be regarded as unvaccinated.  Please email this information to the email address that has been set up for this purpose (rasstudentsvax@raglanarea.school.nz). This information will be used respectfully and only as needed.

I want to thank all the students who have been at school in these early days. Staff have really enjoyed their classes and meeting the new arrivals to Raglan Area School. 

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay connected.

Ngā manaakitanga

Whaea Louisa