From the Principal’s Desk

Nga mihi nui kia koutou katoa. Welcome to the the Westland High School March newsletter.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou katoa. Warm greetings to you all.

We are in uncertain times at the moment with the COVID-19 virus sweeping the globe, there is a great deal of information circulating in the community some of which does not align with the Ministry of Health advisories, please ensure you take your information from the official channels rather than social media and others sources.

The Ministry of Health Website

The Ministry of Education Website

As a school, we are continuing to monitor closely the situation with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and what information is being provided by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Health (MOH). As you will appreciate the situation is very fluid and continues to change almost on a daily basis.

Most of you will be aware schools in many countries have closed, there is a possibility Westland High School may also need to follow suit, however, at the moment we are open for instruction and The Ministry of Education will advise us if a closure is required. Parents should be thinking about how students will be looked after at home should this occur. There has now been a confirmed case at Logan Park, from this we can get a picture of what may happen if we have a confirmed case at our school too. Logan Park school is closed for 48 hours while close contacts of the student are ascertained. Those students and families go into isolation, the school is thoroughly cleaned, staff briefed and information sent out to all families. Of course these measures could change depending on how the situation evolves.

Should the school close we will continue to teach students via electronic means, i.e. use of Chromebooks, learning sites, email, video conferencing etc.. We are fortunate as a digital school to have the vast majority of students with a device such as a Chromebook or access to a device to continue their learning from outside school should the need arise.

We are asking all families who have either recently been overseas or had someone who has recently been overseas to phone us and self-isolate. We will make provision for your child/ren’s learning to continue. These measures are not just to keep you safe but are to keep the whole community as safe as we can. We have had two staff voluntarily self isolate so far and 1 family go into self-isolation.

We also ask that if you are generally unwell with illness to stay away from school and keep your child/ren home. We will be sending unwell students home if they present with cold/flu like symptoms. This ensures that people stay as healthy as possible and health services are not strained with extra illnesses.

Handwashing to prevent the spread

All schools and early learning services are still in the ‘Plan For It’ phase of a pandemic plan. The preventative measures the Ministry of Health is encouraging schools and early learning services to practise are those of good hygiene, which include:

  • Washing hands with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet

  • Covering coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or with an elbow

  • Putting used tissues in the bin

  • Encouraging staff and students to stay home if they are unwell

You will be aware that advice from the Ministry of Health asks everyone to wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure you dry them thoroughly. Singing Tutira mai or Happy Birthday twice, slowly should take about 20 seconds. To assist with this messaging, there are a couple of useful videos from the National Health Service (UK) that might help teach good hand washing techniques:

The Ministry of Health

Updated their Advice for travellers as a result of this announcement –

Measures we have taken thus far

  • Italy trip cancelled

  • Open evening cancelled

  • Individual families who may have travelled have been contacted

  • Self isolation methods supported

  • Pandemic plan updated and in place

  • Update sent in week 10 to families.

  • Cleaners instructed to disinfect all door handles and desks every day on top of usual clean.

  • All toilets checked twice daily for stocks of soap, hand sanitizer, running warm water and hand drying implements.

  • We are being updated regularly by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health.

  • The local West Coast Principals association are meeting with local DHB to work on a region-specific plan.

  • Sending students who are generally unwell with other illnesses home. The office will contact you and arrange for your child to be collected.

  • In regular contact with immunodeficient families from school.

  • Signage regarding symptoms and handwashing put up within the school.

  • Asking outside visitors who have either been overseas recently or have had contact with someone who has been overseas to please rebook for another time.

  • Promoting the distancing measures of; no handshaking, greeting hugs and kisses, hongi.

  • Database of students and staff in self isolation kept with a log of times school work has been set and phone calls made home from staff to support them during the isolation period.

Westland High School will update you immediately if the information changes. Rest assured that while you may not have heard from us, it doesn’t mean that we are no longer doing anything. We take the health of our students, staff and community very seriously.

Take care and remember to be kind to each other, this is an anxious time for some people and everyone reacts differently in times of stress. If you need further information or are concerned please contact the school office. 

Ngā mihi nui
Iain Murray