4th September

Tena Koutou e te whānau o Birdwood School

I hope this email finds you well.We are navigating uncertain times that is for sure however there is nothing like being back in our school, all together.

The good news is that each day more and more students are returning to school. Yesterday we had 58% of our tamariki present at school compared with the beginning of the week where we had 38% of students. Well done and thanyou for the efforts you are making to have your children return to school.

Please remember school is a safe place for your children. I understand there is some nervousness in our community however please let me reassure you, that we are strictly following our Alert Level 2 Health and Safety plan to keep all at Birdwood School students safe.

The Ministry of Education bulletin from the Secretary of Education, Iona Holsted, has suggested that we send to you all the following message from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS, see below)
The message below will give you an understanding as to the process that would happen if we had a case of Covid-19 at Birdwood School.

ARPHS Message
Dear Parents and Caregivers
Returning to school at COVID-19 Alert Level 2

With cases of COVID-19 in Auckland, you may know someone who has tested positive, or hear about a case. Unless you have been close to someone who has been confirmed with COVID it is very unlikely you or your child is at risk of infection.

If we think your child has been close to someone confirmed with COVID, Auckland Regional Public Health Service will contact you directly. We will be working with your child’s school if there is a confirmed case in the school.

We understand parents may have concerns, but it is safe for children to return to school.Children and young people do not need to wear face coverings at school or on school buses. While children can get COVID-19 and can transmit the virus to other people, experience in New Zealand and overseas shows COVID-19 does not infect or affect children and teens in the same way it does adults. Compared to other places, schools and early learning services are not environments where we have seen significant spread of COVID-19.

Protecting your whānau
The most important thing you and your whānau can do to keep as safe as possible is:
• Washing and drying your hands often and thoroughly. Use a hand sanitiser when you don’t have soap and water on hand.
• Covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow, or tissues, and washing your hands straight afterwards.
• Staying home from school or work if you are sick.
• Wearing a face covering, such as a face mask or bandana, if you are out in public and can’t maintain a safe distance from others (eg, public transport).
• Regularly cleaning surfaces, such as bench tops, taps and tables.
• Practising safe physical distancing whenever possible
• Keeping track of where you’ve been. Download the NZ COVID Tracer app or keep a diary or notebook of your movements.

As your child, or children, settle back into school, it’s important to remember the following:
• If your child is sick with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (see below), please keep them at home, call your doctor or Healthline (0800 358 5453) for advice, and arrange for them to get a COVID-19 test as quickly as possible.
• If you have been advised by Auckland Regional Public Health Service that your child is a close contact of someone with COVID-19, keep your child at home in self-isolation. They will need to get a COVID-19 test. A close contact is someone who has been close to a person with COVID-19 and who is therefore at greater risk of getting sick too (and potentially infecting others).
• If your child is tested for COVID-19 for any reason and they return a positive result (i.e. they have the virus):

1. Auckland Regional Public Health Service will be in direct contact with you.
2. Please keep your child home from school and carefully follow the instructions and
advice given to you by the public health service.
3. You do not need to contact the school; the public health service will contact them
4. The service will also contact anyone else from the school, students and/or staff, who
are close contacts of your child (as well as any close contacts from outside of
COVID-19 symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can include one or more of the following:
• New or worsening cough
• Sore throat
• Runny nose
• Fever
• Temporary loss of smell
• Difficulty breathing

More advice and information is available at www.arphs.health.nz and https://covid19.govt.nz/. Or call Healthline: 0800 358 5453. Healthline is a free, 24/7 service with interpreters available.
Thank you for your support in helping keep your whānau, school and wider community well.

Medical Officer of Health
Auckland Regional Public Health Service

I hope the above information gives you a good idea as to the processes the ARPHS apply, when a case is identified in a school. We look forwrad to more of our tamariki returning to school next week.
Nga mihi

Jenny Bernard