We shift into Omicron Phase 3.
Thank you for all of the messages of support we have had from our school whānau as we have worked through the current outbreak of Covid-19 in the Nelson community. At times during the past two weeks it has felt as if I have been working for the Ministry of Health, rather than Nayland College! The changes under Phase 3 of the Omicron response do shift the responsibility from schools to individuals and families in terms of isolation and reporting. This is a welcome change, as the previous rules were unsustainable for the school.
As we continue to see little or no transmission of the virus on school grounds, we believe our current risk mitigations (for example, masks, vaccination, ventilation requirements), make school a safe place to attend. However, we operate a system whereby we assess the safety of our students on a daily basis. Please be assured that should a large outbreak grow at Nayland College, we would take immediate additional action to limit the spread of the virus.
We do request that parents remain vigilant. Please continue to keep a close watch over your whānau for anyone with symptoms. If unwell, please keep your child at home and seek advice about getting a COVID-19 test. Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are now being used to diagnose COVID-19 as well as PCR tests. This means that you will get an almost immediate test result back if a RAT is used.
Phase 3 changes
With Phase 3 of the Omicron response, the key change is that only confirmed cases and their household contacts need to self-isolate. Everyone else, including those who may have had close contact with a case but aren’t in their household, must continue to monitor closely for any symptoms of COVID-19.
If anyone in your family is confirmed as having COVID-19, you will be asked to notify your close contacts yourself. Please get in touch with me as soon as you can if your child has tested positive for COVID-19. Please also inform the school via email if a family member in your household tests positive.
A number of parents have asked for guidance on how we code absences in instances where a student is absent due to parental concerns that attendance at school might expose them to a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
From next week, we will be using the following attendance codes as per Ministry of Education advice:
- Absences due to parental concerns that attendance at school is unsafe because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 are generally considered unjustified ‘E’
- There will be some cases where a parent is keeping their child at home because they or another household member is at higher risk. In these cases schools will work with those parents and caregivers to support the child’s learning and code the student as ‘F’ (‘learning from home’).
- If a student is engaged in distance learning because they are undertaking mandatory self-isolation or the school site is closed, we use code ‘F’.
- In the event a student’s absence is unexplained or they are unwell, we follow our usual procedures.
If you are keeping a student at home due to anxieties around Covid-19, we will work with you to understand your reasoning and support the child’s safe return to school.
Finally, we know how hard the impacts of COVID-19 have been for many families in New Zealand. If you know of a family in your community who is struggling, please encourage them to reach out for support e.g. to access food, medicine, or access financial support. Help is available – COVID-19 Health Hub.
If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are here to help.
By Daniel Wilson