By Belinda Hirst | Posted: Friday March 13, 2020
The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health are in constant contact with schools in New Zealand, updating us every couple of days. Communication to you will be via Facebook UNLESS there is an important change in circumstances that we need you to know about, we will email you in this instance. At the moment we have several children each day coming to school feeling unwell with sore throats and coughs. We can't stress enough to keep your child at home if they are unwell or to collect them from school if they become unwell. We do not have facilities or personnel to look after sick children for the day, nor is it our role.
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 on New Zealand. This includes 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. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.
We have 5 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. 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 in consultation and 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:
One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. We will be encouraging all 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.