Principal Comments 10 June 2020

Congratulations to everybody on our move to Level 1 as we recognize the efforts and sacrifices that have been made to get here. We are good with dealing with a crisis and working together in our time of need. We now move into what can be a very challenging time; post crisis, the adrenaline is gone and now the negative effects and stress of the lockdown will start to bite for some. Now is the time to keep our focus on being kind and looking after each other.

The key points of our ongoing safety plan are:

  • Stay home if sick
  • Use good hygiene practices (keep handwashing and sanitising)
  • Visitors sign in and use the COVID 19 tracker app.

Assemblies will resume and we are starting up our sports and cultural events where possible.

We were pleases to see the announcement of a number of changes to NCEA to recognize the disruption of lockdown. The main changes include starting exams later and reducing the number of credits required to attain certificates and University Entrance. Full details will be sent to senior students.

Our return from lockdown has meant that the school has been able to launch into our planned school review to consider our desired future for Darfield High School and to plan how we will get there. We are excited about this and keen to get feedback from all stakeholders including parents, community groups and contributing schools. Later in this newsletter is shared our aims and process for this review. In the next few weeks we will be contacting you to invite you to share your vision for Darfield High School.

7 May

Today, the Prime Minister advised that in Alert Level 2 schools will be safe environments for children, young people and staff and that additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.

The good news is that when we are able to, we will be ready to welcome all students and staff back to our school site.

The key Public Health approach is to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place, and then to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person, if someone in a school is infected.

As we have done in Alert Level 3, in Alert Level 2 we will know who is at school, who our staff and students have been in close contact with and take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.

Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. We do, however, know it is challenging in schools, so good hygiene practices and regular cleaning are even more important here. This includes staff and students coughing into their elbows, handwashing and drying, and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

Under Alert Level 2, we advise any students and staff to stay at home if they are sick, and we will send anyone home immediately if they show any symptoms.

As described by Dr Payinda in his NZ Herald article, “Covid’s not measles or chickenpox, it doesn’t hang in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You don’t have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their ‘moist breath’ zone”. We all just need to remember to have some breathing space at Alert Level 2!

It’s important, however, that not just at school but also at home, safe hygiene habits are practised by everyone, as this is essential to minimise the risk that someone gets infected with Covid-19.

For more information about the public health measures at Alert Level 2, you can visit the covid19.govt.nz website: https://covid19.govt.nz/

If you have any questions about our health and safety plan, or have a child who might be vulnerable to serious illness and would like to discuss a plan for them, please contact the school.

Parent Update 27 April 

Dear Parents/Caregivers

Best wishes to you all as we work together to meet the challenge of COVID-19.

Thank you for the responses from parents of Years 7-10 students regarding attendance at school during Level 3. We currently have about 12 students who will be attending. Further information will be coming out soon to these families.

I have attached a copy of our Level 3 Safety Plan for your information. The key point to note is that the school site is closed except to staff, the 12 attending students, and anyone coming in to collect resources as arranged. 

Hard copy resources have been ordered from the Ministry of Education where these have been requested. We have not been advised of how long the delivery times for these will be. There are also some new requests for devices that we will be able to address once we are back on site on Wednesday.

Distance Learning

Thank you to our staff for their work in supporting the community with distance learning. A reminder that Tuesday 28 April has been made a ‘Teacher Only Day’ by the government and so no new learning is expected to be posted on this day. 

Parents are able to be linked to their child’s google classroom account so that they can see what is happening. This can be done by accepting the invite emailed 28/4/20. 

I have attached information for parents from NZQA regarding NCEA.

Wellbeing

The school counsellors are available for remote support and can help if you have anxiety over being at home or with you school work (Ms Mallinder ma@darfield.school.nz and Ms Hamilton lh@darfield.school.nz ).

Tips for students to look after themselves when they are working from home:

  • Have a plan for your day, particularly around when you will take breaks.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Be present, resist from looking too far into the future or dwelling on the past.
  • Keep moving, going for walk, bike or anything else that gets you moving

Take care and be kind and gracious to each other.

21 April

Kia ora koutou

You will be aware of the announcement made by the Prime minister yesterday that as of 11:59 on Monday 27th April New Zealand will remain in Alert Level 3 for at least two weeks.

We are seeking information to support us with our planning for alert Level 3.

Please note that at Alert Level 3, all students in Years 11-13 will continue their emergency distance learning programme at home as they have for the Level 4 lockdown.

Parents and caregivers of students in Years 7, 8, 9 &10 are also expected to keep their children at home if at all possible. The Government is asking you only to send your child to school if you are unable to provide adequate supervision for them at home.

For Year 7-10 students who are unable to stay at home we will be providing supervision to support them to complete the distance learning already provided by teachers. Students who are registered to be at school will be in ‘bubbles’ of a maximum of 10 students supervised by staff. They will not be mixed with other school bubbles and strict distancing and other health measures will be used.

Please complete this survey as soon as possible but by 6pm Wednesday 22nd April.

This is a challenging and unprecedented time for us all. We are grateful for your support.

17 April

It has been pleasing to see the number of new COVID19 cases dropping as we see the positive results of our efforts with the lockdown. We had an initial announcement yesterday from the government regarding the move to Level 3 and we will keep in touch as the details are confirmed. 

We have received a reminder from the Ministry of Education regarding students being in paid work now the school term has officially resumed:

“The start of term 2 does however signal that students’ work hours must return to being outside of school hours only … it is unlawful, as Section 30 of the Education Act does not allow this – even during the lockdown period.”

To support students with their learning, they can go to the Darfield High School library site at dhslibrary.nz for links to reading and research resources and use ‘ask a librarian’ if they have any small or big library questions.

For support and advice on any parenting issue: if you need someone to talk to about what is happening in your family, or need some advice on how best to support your family, a free parenting Helpline on 0800 568 856 is provided by Parent Help. It is available from 9 am – 9 pm, 7 days a week.

Teachers are endeavouring to provide regular work to keep students engaged. If your child is feeling overwhelmed, then please let their teacher know. The school counsellors, Ms Mallinder (ma@darfield.school.nz) and Ms Hamilton (lh@darfield.school.nz), are also available for support.

Distance learning has been underway again for a few days now and we are interested to find out how it is going from your perspective. Any feedback you can provide via this short survey would be appreciated.

10 April

I hope that you are doing well in this unprecedented lockdown situation we are in and that you have been able to look after the wellbeing of yourself and your family. Thank you to those of you who have been contributing as essential workers.

Key Messages:

  • Distance learning resumes on Wednesday 15 April
  • Go to the school website for links to student learning information and resources
  • School will reopen Wednesday 29 April at the earliest

With online learning our key focus is to support student wellbeing by supporting student engagement in learning and interacting with a community of learners. Rather than providing the full curriculum opportunities that students usually experience at school we are aiming to develop learning routines than successfully engage students at home.  Real time, ‘synchronous’, face to face learning is less of a priority although some teachers are using this strategy. A high priority is to regularly be posting work, providing regular feedback, and responding to questions in a timely manner.

We want to keep the learning wheels oiled to prevent stagnation so that when we return we will be set up to roll back into normal school.

Other ‘non-school’ learning that will be happening at home during the lockdown is recognised as being of high educational value. Cooking, chores, DIY, crafts etc are important learning.
Iona Holstead, the Secretary for Education, announced yesterday the following regarding the return to school following the lockdown:We are looking at various scenarios and they will be based on health considerations and requirements under Level 3, particularly managing physical distancing. A hybrid model of both distance learning and on-site learning is very likely at least in the early stages of Level 3.  The Public Health requirements will affect each school differently.
 
Following any announcement schools will have some time to prepare for physically re-opening the school to welcome back on site your staff and some, but not all, of your children/students.
 
Assuming the alert level does change, current planning assumptions are that schools will have Thursday 23 and Friday 24 April to access school and undertake a property inspection and necessary maintenance and cleaning. Monday 27 April is a public holiday (ANZAC Day observed) and Tuesday 28 April will be a staff-only day. We therefore anticipate Wednesday 29 April would be your first day with some of your students/children able to attend in person.  

25 March

Extraordinary measures for an extraordinary time. Thank you to our community as we were required to quickly transition to being closed and in self-isolation.

School will close from midnight on Wednesday 25 March for four weeks. New Zealanders who are outside of essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of those in your households.  Student wifi has been switched off at school and we have been told to close our playground. School holidays will start early, from 30 March to 14 April inclusive. 

The preparation we had done prior to closure has enabled teachers to be well placed to provide distance learning. It is important to note that teachers focus will be on providing regular periods of learning in order to keep students engaged in a learning routine, rather than replicate a normal curriculum.  These activities will support student wellbeing by enabling students to continue to feel part of a community of learners. Over the holiday period teachers will not be updating the distance learning work but will be preparing for distance learning for the weeks that follow.
 Student Distance Learning Guidelines for Emerge…

Our senior students may be concerned how the closure of the school will affect their NCEA assessments. The nature of NCEA is that there is a range of options available to assess work. Teachers will use this flexibility as is needed and there are options available should the self-isolation need to continue beyond the current four weeks. NZQA is working with schools to provide support to generate grades derived from a student’s learning programme.

Check school website for updates. 
Wellbeing and Digital SafetyThis current climate means that we will all be spending more time online. The digital world offers plenty of exciting opportunities for learning as well as connecting with others. We also know that our young people regularly encounter challenges online, such as social exclusion, bullying, inappropriate behaviour and pornography. 

It is so important that we remember that the Prime Minister’s message, We will get through this together, but only if we stick together. Be strong and be kind”,  also extends to our online spaces.

Let’s work together to provide a safe and enjoyable online learning environment for all our young people. And remember that, if you need help, our pastoral deans and school counsellors, Mrs Louise Hamilton (lh@darfield.school.nz) and Ms Jayne Mallinder (ma@darfield.school.nz) are here to support us via email and google hangouts. You can also report online harm to Netsafe

Digital Safety

To support our students, it is important they are reminded about our DHS digital citizenship agreement which supports them in being safe online.

  • Avoiding conversations that are unkind, mean or bullying
  • Checking that the information you use is correct. Checking that the research is correct by using reliable sites. When in doubt, asking your teacher or your parents.
  • Building positive relationships by not sending hurtful or inflammatory messages to other people, or forwarding messages that are unkind or inappropriate.

 Well-being

Lastly, we can support our young people by ensuring they do the following:

  • Have a shower and get up at the normal time for school. This will wake you up and get you ready for the day.
  • Get some fresh air and sunlight, even for 10 minutes, as this will benefit your overall well-being.
  • Make good choices online.
  • One device at a time. 
  • Stay connected; a video call to a friend will help you through the isolation period.
  • If you have space, set up a designated area to set up your school work. Then you can settle into your work without distractions.
  • Balance your time spent on devices. Make sure you get some fresh air and do something fun with your family. 
  • Put your health and your family first.

Be Calm, Stay safe and Be Kind!

Ngā mihi nui

Monday 23 March 6pm

The COVID-19 response has continued to move rapidly with schools being required to close for most students from tomorrow (Tuesday). We are all required to be self isolating where possible from now.
Government Update
New Zealanders who are outside of essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others ousider of those in your households.  

From Tuesday 24 March, early learning services, schools and kura will be closed for most students. Children whose parents are essential workers will be able to attend early learning services or school on 24 and 25 March, while their parents make other arrangements.  Early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary education providers will then close from midnight on Wednesday 25 March for four weeks. Distance education will be provided where possible. School holidays will start early, from 30 March to 14 April inclusive. During the holiday break, we will support schools to develop e-learning and other distance learning options for Term 2.

Tuesday 24 March and Wednesday 25 March at Darfield High School
Buses will run and school will be open for supervision for children of essential services workers only. If you work in essential services and you require you child to be supervised over the next two days please respond to this quick survey

We will be endeavouring to be provide online learning where we can until this Friday (27 March) when ‘holidays’ will begin. Not all subjects will be available from Tuesday. Guidelines for how this will work are at Student Distance Learning Guidelines for Emerge…
Check school website for updates. 
RegardsJames Morris  

Monday 23 March

Dear Parents and Caregivers 

We are facing a rapidly evolving situation nationally and the school wishes to keep you all informed with regular updates. 

The school will be using its website as the official source of any information impacting on the staff and students under our care. There will be a dedicated section accessed via the front page of the website which will be updated as needed. Please use this for your information and not other sources of social media.

Information regarding COVID-19 is being regularly updated. Go to https://covid19.govt.nz/ for the most up-to-date general information.

We are under the direction and mandates of the Ministries of Education and Health and we are expecting and preparing for any changes that will come from them. At this stage, they are saying that school is open and students are expected to attend.

Current guidelines are that students should be at school unless they are unwell, at risk or have been required to self-isolate through having been overseas or in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Teachers will try to provide some distance learning opportunities for students who are required to remain at home. Initially, this will be via the students’ email; however, it will be via google classroom if the school closes. There will be more information coming to you if we are put in the situation of having to offer alternative teaching and learning tools.

At risk groups are specified at https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-system/

A number of staff and students meet the ‘at risk’ definition and so will be working from home. Medical Certificates are not required.

School is open but will be closed if directed to. This will occur if there is a direct case confirmed at the school or NZ is placed at alert level 4.

If the school is unable to adequately staff the school, then a partial closure may be required with some year levels learning from home.

NCEA

It is understandable that parents, staff and students are anxious about what impact this will have on the NCEA years. Advice has been received over the weekend regarding managing NCEA assessments. We will continue to share any information with you about NCEA qualifications: https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/news/covid-19-guidance-for-school-assessment/

We have a Pandemic Management Group that meets regularly to consider updated information, communication required, and actions to be taken.

  • School trips will be further reviewed in light of recent advice to limit non-essential travel.
  • The school bus service is currently operating as per normal but this may change if staff become unavailable.
  • A reminder for any student who has been overseas within the last 14 days to be self-isolating.
  • Our visiting Thai group travelled home over the weekend.

And another reminder please to use the Darfield High School website front page to stay abreast of developments and to receive the accurate facts about our evolving situation.

Also reminding us all to be kind and stay connected in any way we can with each other.

With best wishes. Kia kaha

James Morris

Principal

Friday 20 March

Dear Parents and Students

With so much information and misinformation swirling around about COVID-19, we wanted to share with you what will happen if we were to have a case in our school community. We have been planning for this and are in a position to respond quickly.

  • As soon as a case is confirmed in our immediate school community (eg. a student, staff member, or member of their household), the Medical Officer of Health and Ministry of Education will inform me about this, and we will work together to get quick and clear messaging out to you
  • If there was a case confirmed of someone in our school, we will likely be asked to close temporarily by the Medical Officer of Health. This will allow time for close contacts to be traced, appropriate testing to be undertaken, and a careful clean of the school to be undertaken.
  • If our school does need to close temporarily, we have a plan in place to support student’s learning.

We know COVID-19 feels scary and of course people are concerned for the wellbeing of our children. Good hygiene is a priority and we are reinforcing this regularly with all students and staff. We know that practicing good hygiene is still the best thing we can all do to prevent illness.

We are getting the most up to date advice and guidance so that we can make informed decisions about the safety and wellbeing of our school community.    
We have decided to cancel the parent/teacher interview evening that was scheduled for Thursday 26 March. Please email teachers directly if there are any matters you would like to discuss with them. 

All interschool sport and cultural events have been cancelled or postponed at this stage. We will be considering any scheduled class trips on a case by case basis to determine if they can take place safely. 


Regards

James Morris