Covid 19 Coronavirus Update 21 February

Covid 19 Coronavirus Update

Friday 21 February 2020

Members of our community will be following news items on the Covid 19 Coronavirus and its gradual appearance in a widening group of countries.  Further spread is possible, including to New Zealand. 

As for any school or workplace, we have a responsibility to mitigate any risk to staff and students.  We are currently doing some planning around steps we might need to take in the  event that the virus were to appear in our region.  We are monitoring the lessons to be drawn from overseas countries’ experience. 

Some aspects of the disease’s transmission rates remain unclear, but what is emerging is evidence of where there is greater risk to those who become infected.  One of those factors is an increased risk where a person has a chronic or long-standing medical condition that compromises or weakens their immune systems. That is no surprise. Usually, the school will know of such a condition through information discussed at enrolment. However, families’ desire for privacy can sometimes mean that we are not told of what can be substantial medical background. My request of family/whanau is that if your son or daughter has such a condition that you let us know of that, by contacting our First Aid Officer Jo Canton. Jo will ensure that our record is as complete as possible so that, as a school, we are in a position to manage any known health risks affecting our students.  

The school has 185 staff and I am also asking them to ensure that we are aware of any medical background in their case that has not been advised to the school. I am aware that I am seeking what might be private information. I do so in the best interests of the staff and students. Any information supplied will be used only for risk assessment purposes  associated with our responsibility to take reasonable and proactive planning steps to ensure the  continuing safety of students and staff.

Ross Sinclair

4/2/2020 - Coronavirus Update (Tuesday 4 February)

Members of our community will have been following the news reports regarding the steps taken by New Zealand authorities to implement a 14 day quarantine period for travellers arriving from China.  You will also be aware we had already taken that step as a sensible precaution for our school.

In my view the need for information is important even where there is no particular development to report.  That is the purpose of this update.

The school has had complete co-operation from those who have returned from China.  They realise our quarantine request of them is for the benefit of all, and they have willingly complied with the steps asked of them.  This allows us to assure our community that no person will be in the school without completing a 14 day quarantine if they have recently travelled from China.  We have had no symptoms of any kind with the quarantined individuals.

If you have any queries about this or other health-related matters, please contact our First Aid Officer Jo Canton.

Ross Sinclair

28/1/2020 - Members of our community will be aware of the Chinese authorities’ attempts to deal with an outbreak of coronavirus disease in China.  A great deal of work is being done by international medical staff to understand the disease’s transmission parameters and the best management of risk.  Currently, it seems the disease can incubate over two weeks, even while the person involved shows no symptoms.

The Ministry of Education has advised schools of the following points:

-  As always, anyone who is unwell should not be at school.  If you have a particular concern about any person please contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or your GP for medical advice.  Healthline has interpreters available in 150 languages, including Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking staff.  

-  The Ministry also supports the voluntary quarantine of staff or students for fourteen days.  Clearly, that would be disruptive to the start of a student’s  2020 academic programme, but the wider health of the school community is the priority here.

Hutt Valley High School does not have any student whose usual place of residence is within the quarantined areas in China.

We are aware of eight students who have travelled from China over the holiday break and we are completing checking with them to confirm when they returned.  Where that time is less than two weeks, we are requesting they quarantine voluntarily until it is fourteen days since their return.  None has shown any symptoms of being unwell and we believe our risk profile to be very low.  Even so, it is prudent to take a cautious approach and we ask the co-operation of our community to do just that.

If there is any family that has recently returned from China and has not been contacted by the school, we ask that you contact the school’s First Aid Officer, Jo Canton (566 4594 extension 8854), to discuss any next steps.

As ever, any flu-like symptoms should be referred to a family’s GP.  The current circumstances are also a reminder that we need to observe good hygiene practices around sneezing, as well as washing hands thoroughly.