Published on Thursday, 30 January 2020, 1:46 p.m. Print Article

Greetings Aidanfield whanau 

Welcome to the new year.  We are about to start school with our pupils and many of you will be wondering about the impact of the Coronavirus on our school.

The health of all our pupils, families and staff is a priority for us. The current situation is not new in the sense that we have responded to multiple concerns over the years in our global village.  To help look after everyone, please consider the following statement which is based on guidance from the Ministries of Education and Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Please consider this carefully and make decisions based on your family’s situation.

As you will have seen in the media the situation is evolving internationally concerning the coronavirus.  The best place to get accurate information is from the Ministry of Health website (Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) guidance – Ministry of Health), WHO, and the Ministry of Education.  Media stories should be considered in light of the information provided by the organisations charged with maintaining public health.

Coronavirus is a new virus and its specific nature is currently unclear, however, it appears that you can have the virus at an early stage and not be showing any symptoms. This incubation period is currently considered to be up to 14 days. However, anyone who has travelled and gets sick within a month of returning should seek medical advice.

If your child or member of your family is feeling unwell – stay at home

•              (As always) anyone who is unwell should not be at school.  This is no different to any other time.  If your child is feeling unwell, please keep them at home.  If, as a parent, you are feeling unwell, please do not come to school for the time you are unwell.  Any child who presents as unwell will be immediately sent home.  

•              The current information available states that coughing, fever, flu like symptoms and possibly shortness of breath may be symptoms of the virus.  If you have shortness of breath you should seek medical advice immediately.

•              If you have a particular concern please feel free to contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or your GP for medical advice. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages and they do have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

•              Please be aware that if a student still attends school while showing symptoms the Principal can preclude them if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease (Section 19 Education Act). The student has to stay away for the infectious period of the specific disease. Principals can request that a student with an infectious disease or is suspected of having an infectious disease, does not attend.

Remember the following from the World Health Organisation (WHO) who advise people to follow basic principles to reduce risk of any virus spreading. We teach a similar version to our pupils each year and already have this information around the school with sanitisers in all rooms and have had for a number of years.  Precautions include:

*  avoid close contact with people suffering acute respiratory infections

*  wash hands frequently, especially after contact with ill people or their environment

*  avoid close contact with sick farm animals or wild animals (we don’t teacher this one!)

*  practice cough etiquette:  maintain distance,  cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, wash hands.

If you have a high risk of exposure to the virus – delay your start

If your family is at a ‘higher risk of exposure’ please consider delaying your start at school for 14 days after the last day of your potential exposure.  

Such absences will be considered a ‘justified absence’ and will be supported by the school.  We ask you to tell the school the reason for delaying your start, the city or cities where you consider you may have been exposed, and the date you returned to New Zealand or had contact with the person confirmed to have the virus.  This will help us keep track of people should we need to.

At this stage, ‘high risk’ means your family or your child has recently been to China (particularly Hubei Province, Wuhan, Guangzhou) or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus. 

A multi cultural community

Aidanfield is blessed to have people from all around the world and a strong Asian community.  We welcome everyone and we are here to support all our families.  We ask each family to consider carefully the real risk of infection in relation to their travel, exposure and contacts and make good decisions based on this assessment.  It is likely that only a few of our families are in a high risk category based on the numbers and comparisons with so many other risks we face.    

Finally, if you would like to discuss any aspect of your concerns please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to spend time with you,

Grace and peace.

Mark Richardson