He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update – 13 April 2022
He Pitopito Kōrero
Tēnā koe i tēnei ahiahi,
This afternoon the Government announced that New Zealand will move to Orange from 11:59pm tonight Wednesday 13 April.
The decision to move to Orange has been made based on public health advice and reflects that New Zealand is showing clear signs that Omicron has peaked. As case numbers come down and our health system is more able to cope, it is appropriate to move to fewer restrictions.
Although the change to Orange is taking place tonight, you should retain your current settings at school tomorrow so that you have time to plan for any changes. For example, you should maintain the expectation that students in Years 4 and up (and relevant staff) continue to wear masks until the end of the term.
At Orange, masks remain an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and public health strongly encourage their continued use.
One of the challenges that you may continue to face is working with those parents and whānau who continue to have concerns about their child being at school. In this bulletin, we’ve included a letter template you may wish to send to whānau to let them know what the move to Orange means.
You’ll also find information on how to opt-out of receiving more RATs, how to order more masks, and the wellbeing funding now available for new principals.
Thank you again for your mahi throughout what has been another challenging term. I said this last week, but I deeply appreciate your resilience and leadership.
Kia pai ngā hararei, have a great break,
Guidance for moving to Orange
With the move to Orange, your school can lessen restrictions in Term 2.
As always, encourage your school community to continue to maintain good hygiene and stay home if you are sick. Please also continue to use well-ventilated indoor spaces.
Additionally, we recommend that you consider the risk for your school and your community when considering the mitigations you choose to retain at Orange.
If there are high rates of transmission in your school or community, or a high number of vulnerable staff or learners, you may decide it is appropriate to keep additional health measures in place, such as wearing a mask indoors.
Face masks at Orange
At Orange, face masks are no longer required at school.
However, we strongly encourage face masks continue to be worn by ākonga and staff in Years 4 and above when indoors.
Face masks are one of the key health measures that we can use to slow the spread of COVID-19 in indoor settings. If COVID-19 is circulating widely in your community, you may decide that masks are required indoors again for a time.
Any student or staff member who wishes to wear a face mask at Orange should be encouraged and supported to do so.
Face masks also continue to be required for students aged 12 and above on school and public transport.
Can you require that masks be worn at Orange?
If there is a high number of cases in your school or community, you may consider it appropriate to have a policy requiring masks indoors.
You can find more information about implementing health and safety measures beyond the framework in our bulletin on 5 April.
Gatherings of large numbers of students
At Orange, you can decide to have assemblies and other activities with large numbers of students.
If these activities take place, they should be in well-ventilated areas or outdoors. We strongly recommend that masks are worn for large indoor gatherings.
There are no restrictions on numbers of visitors on site at Orange and they should be captured in a visitor register as per your normal practice.
Visitors, including parents and caregivers, are strongly encouraged to wear a mask when indoors.
Letter template for parents and whānau
Here is a letter template to support your communications with your community on moving to Orange. This can be edited to meet your needs.
Rapid antigen test supply
Schools and kura will be provided with more rapid antigen tests (RATs) to continue symptomatic testing of students and staff in Term 2.
Schools and kura that do not require more RATs will be able to opt out by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need to opt out by next Wednesday 20 April.
This supply will be distributed to arrive at schools at the beginning of Term 2. If you have not received your delivery by the end of the first week of the term, please email email@example.com
Specialist schools, special needs units and boarding hostels
RATs will also be provided to specialist schools, special needs units, and boarding hostels to allow for twice-weekly asymptomatic testing for staff on a voluntary basis until the end of Term 3. These will be sent as one bulk order at the beginning of Term 2.
This longer extension recognises the greater vulnerability of students in specialist schools and special needs units and that students in boarding hostels are living in a residential setting.
Private schools are now eligible to receive kits for symptomatic testing
Private schools will now be able to opt in to receive RATs for symptomatic testing of students and staff if they agree to pay the costs of distribution.
For more information about opting in email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As above, at Orange we strongly encourage that masks continue to be worn by ākonga and staff in Years 4 and above when indoors. Masks remain an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
If your current stock of masks for staff is running low, you can order more stock. Information on how to order stock online is on our website.
Wellbeing support funding for new principals
The Accord understands the vital role principals play in supporting the wellbeing of their staff, learners and their communities and has approved the distribution of additional operational funds specifically targeted at schools with first-time principals who have been in their role for three years or less.
Schools will be provided a support package with the funding outlining how the wellbeing package could be deployed. This may include temporary recruitment of administrative assistance to relieve the immediate workload or other school supports as they see fit.
Eligible schools will be contacted directly over the coming few weeks and it is anticipated that this funding will be released towards the end of May.
Why this funding is being put in place
The Accord has been considering the findings of the recent Education Review Office (ERO) report focused on the impact of COVID-19 on teachers and principals which identified workload pressures and particular challenges experienced by new principals.
There is evidence that the impact of COVID-19 has been very significant for this group. Whilst new principals have shown remarkable resilience and adaptability leading through this difficult period, the report acknowledges the impact the strain has had on their wellbeing.
It is particularly important that new principals are supported to succeed, are able to grow, and sustain the essential work they are doing on the front line in our communities.