Kia ora koutou
Last week was rather strange with few Covid positive cases at school. This week the tide has turned, and we are seeing an exponential increase, as is the whole of the Hutt Valley.
Stuff reported yesterday that the Hutt Valley currently has 4976 active cases, with 837 in one day.
We went from 2 cases on February 28th to 35 cases yesterday. There are 61 currently isolating at home, some on their 7th day - some on their 2nd. The spread of cases is across all year levels, and the subsequent flow-on effect is that siblings are isolated at home now too.
We have 13 staff self-isolating as they are household contacts of a positive case. We have had one staff member who tested positive, they are now back at school, and there are no other staff home because they are positive.
Our attendance tracking mirrors the covid cases - but is good compared to other schools and better than where we thought it would be at this stage of the Omicron outbreak. Our whole school attendance was 85% yesterday.
For this week and unless staff numbers isolating increase, we will continue with the current plan to keep the school operating as per our regular timetable. We will cover all Yr 9-Yr 11 classes with relievers and if possible, our Yr 12-Yr 13 classes. In some instances, senior classes will not have a reliever in front of them - but we expect our seniors to be independent learners who can follow the instructions left on their Google Classroom by their absent teacher.
Today for example a Yr 13 Classics class chose to work together in their timetabled room on work set by their teacher who is at home isolating. A super example of mature and independent learning.
The next stage of our Covid Response plan is a slightly different supervision model. We hope it allows all those who are well and Covid free to continue to come to school. We know that coming to school is best for our students as it enables social connections, which are crucial for good mental health and well-being. Teachers will offer workshops and tutorials to supplement their Google Classroom work. Sport, Clubs, Canteen, Guidance, Youth Workers, Yr 9 Liaison students etc. will all be operating as close to normal as is possible.
At this stage, based on recent trends, we anticipate this Omicron Plan to start sometime next week. The tipping point will be an increase in staff absenteeism.
The Ministry of Education has clear guidelines on attendance and recording a student’s absence. We are following them as best we can, but things are not always as simple as a set of rules.
Here is their guidance: https://www.education.govt.nz/covid-19/advice-for-schoolskura/support-for-schools-attendance-engagement-and-distance-learning/
If there are any issues, please contact Tim Fox to discuss in person, and he will endeavour to record things as accurately as possible.
In the meantime, please ensure your student has access to the Google Classroom platform from home. Contact Tim Fox if you require assistance. We still have 40 Chromebooks that students can borrow from the Library when they are at school. We are trying to find additional devices to send home - this is proving challenging.
I will be back in touch soon.