Principal’s Address 20th March 202020th Mar 2020
Kia Ora Tatou
I am writing this weeks contribution to the newsletter on Thursday afternoon knowing that by the time you receive this some of the information may quite possibly be out of date. Such is the rapidity of change of our environment in such a short space of time.
Last weekend with the announcement of 14 days self isolation for all travellers into New Zealand has forced the re-consideration of forthcoming overseas trips for students organised by South Otago High School. It has also signalled the possibility of further curtailment of activities for students. Already a number of sport codes have suspended their practices and competitions. We have ceased assemblies in school and are reviewing whether some of our expected Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) activities will continue. The Ministry of Education has issued new guidelines for such trips and we are following these and also considering the venues of some of our future trips.
There is still the possibility that the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health may direct schools to close even for 48 hours. Whilst in the last few weeks I have been reassuring our community that we are planning for a pandemic, now we are moving to look at what education may be like if a school closure becomes a reality.
Our thoughts are with Logan Park High School staff, students and in particular the families who have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. It is pleasing to note that all 150 students who have been tested have been cleared of Covid-19 infection.
Here at South Otago High School we have put up signs advising that anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 do not come into school. Where students are reporting as being unwell we are asking families to pick up students and we are, as far as possible, keeping them separated. This is following the advice from health officials. The reasoning behind this is not the ability of students (or staff) to work and do their job BUT it is about bringing infections into a place of work and spreading these to other members of our work community. The result can be that someone vulnerable then picks up an infection and needs medical care and assistance. This is an added pressure on the health service when they are already at a potential pressure situation.
Please do use your judgement wisely.
Learning to continue if the school does need to close
A letter will accompany this newsletter regarding the specific plans for distance education in the event of the school closing. Parents will play an important part in supporting students with their education should the closure become essential.
Parents can support students with their learning by:
ensuring that distractions are minimised
providing a quiet place for students to work
checking in with the work which has been asked of them and the work which has been completed
raising questions with mentor teachers early so that support can be provided if necessary.
For now: South Otago High School remains open.
Your child will continue to receive a first class education by a team of teachers who want the best for your child.
Separating fact from fiction
Please be aware that there is a lot of stories out in the media. Make no mistake that this is a very serious health risk but choose where you gather your information from. For advice please refer to:
Shave for a Cure
This years Shave for a Cure sadly had to be cancelled at this time. Like school assemblies we could not guarantee that we could maintain ‘social distancing’. Unlike a classroom situation, students would be mobile and we would have limited records of where students were sitting. Also this was not an essential learning experience.
In the last few weeks we have seen a significant change to our normal school activities. This includes the cancellation of the Taieri Interchange, the postponement of both the Australian Rugby Tour and New York trip. The postponement of many sports and cultural events as well as some of our EOTC trips.
As principal, I am well aware of the enjoyment that students gain from these activities. I know how much our students look forward to the experiences that we offer. I do appreciate the disappointment that our young people are facing. I myself miss the opportunity to address the whole school to reassure them that this will end and we will return to normal and we will work really hard to provide these opportunities as soon as we are able.
As parents please be aware that your child may be upset and please do reassure them. Our school Guidance Counsellor, Cath Bloxham is available for support by contacting the school.
Some good news
Some good news
Normally in an assembly this week we would have celebrated the success of students as we do normally. So this week, rather than shaking hands I bumped elbows with Hamish Mills as I presented him with his badge and certificate for being awarded the Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. Well done Hamish, I look forward to hearing your progress as you work towards the Gold Award.
Please do encourage students to keep safe and follow the advice given by the health professionals. Take every opportunity to remind students of good hygiene practices. All of our student wash facilities have:
- Hot water
- Liquid soap
We are adding more soap dispensers to all facilities
We are preparing to deploy hand sanitiser stations but are trying to be strategic as we are aware of the national shortage of these supplies.
We are taking this seriously and we are doing all that we can to limit and prevent the spread of any infection.
This long weekend may be a good time to settle in at home, read a good book or catch up on watching a movie as a family. I know I will be!
I look forward to seeing all students return to school next Tuesday, 24 March 2020.
Ka kite ano