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COVID-19 Updates


Current COVID-19 Situation

Opening at Alert Level 2

September 7th 2021

Tēnā koe,

Mount Aspiring College is excited to welcome back students to school on Thursday now that we have shifted to Alert Level 2 from 11:59pm Tuesday 7th September. Thank you for your patience and for sticking to your bubble during Alert Levels 4 and 3. Please note that if you have been sending your child to school for supervision during Alert Level 3, you can continue to do this for Wednesday.

In terms of health and safety, each classroom will be set up with a hand-sanitiser station for students to use upon entry into class. We will also have a day cleaner onsite. We will be sticking to the regulations around group sizes. Our assemblies will be online for the duration of alert level 2.

When students come back to school on Thursday, they will first go to their Whānau class, at 8:35am.

Students will need to be in uniform (unless they are Year 13, or leaving school at the end of this year, in which case they will already have a uniform pass). We are mindful that some students may have uniform passes for other reasons, and this is absolutely fine.

In terms of learning and the classroom we will spend the first few lessons catching up on where students have got to with their online learning. Teachers will be setting tasks which can easily be achieved in the lesson time, and will be using this as a way of getting students back into the routine of being at school.

I realise that each young person is going to feel differently about coming back to school; everyone’s experience of lockdown at Alert Levels 3 and 4 is different. I would encourage students to seek out help and support from our Deans and Guidance Counsellors if they are concerned or worried about coming back to school.

The Canteen is operational - remember that you can order online.

The Ministry of Health helpline (0800 611 116) is available for people seeking advice about COVID tests and health information. Please also remember to keep scanning the QR codes displayed at local businesses. If you need to come into school for a pre-arranged meeting, please ensure that you sign in at the main office and scan the COVID-19 QR code.

Below are the guidelines and information from the Ministry of Education (in summary):
For more detailed information, please visit www.education.govt.nz/covid-19/advice-for-schoolskura.

1. Schools are open to everyone, and all children must attend.
At Alert Level 2 there is a low risk of community transmission. It is safe for children and staff to attend school and for school hostels to be operating as there will be appropriate measures in place, including for children and staff at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

2. Learning will be onsite with distance learning offered in some circumstances.
Distance learning should be provided for those required to self-isolate, those individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result, or those choosing to remain at home because they are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated.

3. Schools are not classified as gatherings and a range of events and activities can go ahead.
For most day-to-day activities at schools, the rules for gatherings do not apply. Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order, schools are exempted from physical distancing requirements when people are there to receive, provide, or support education services. However, at MAC, we will plan for our assemblies to be online, and where possible, make alternative arrangements.
As soon as your event or activity brings people onsite who are not there for education purposes, including students, parents and caregivers, then the rules for gatherings do apply.

4. Face coverings are not mandatory at school or on any school transport, but are strongly recommended.
Public health advice now, in light of the increased risk of the Delta variant, is that face coverings for students aged 12 and over are strongly encouraged to be worn. Should they choose to, those individuals are encouraged to provide and wear their own face coverings.

5. Sick people must stay at home.
They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate.
At all times, people who have been at a location of interest at the relevant time, or is connected with a confirmed case in some way, must follow the advice of the health authorities.

6. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply at every alert level:
Physical distancing (not touching and not breathing on each other at Alert Level 2)
Hand hygiene
Cough and sneeze etiquette
Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces

The most important thing is to look after yourself and your whānau. We will all have different responses, thoughts and feelings about being in Level 2, which is perfectly normal. Remember that there is lots of support at school (Classroom Teachers, Deans and the Guidance Counselling team), the community and through national helplines (www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help) if needed.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nicola Jacobsen

Advice on schools from the MoE NZ Government COVID-19 Guidelines

Lowering the Alert Level

August 27th 2021

Tēnā koe,

As per this afternoon’s announcement from the Government, Wānaka will shift from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 on Tuesday 31st August at 12:59pm.

At COVID alert level three, schools will be open for those tamariki whose parents or carers need to go to work from Wednesday 1st September.

Students who need to attend school
Parents and caregivers are asked to register their child(ren’s) attendance at school if required. This is for years 7-10 students. Depending on how many students register will dictate how many ‘bubbles’ of students we will have onsite. There will be a staff member to help supervise students while they continue with their online learning.

Students who need to attend school will need to bring their own device for online learning, their lunch, water, and any sports equipment they would like to use during break times.

If you would like to register your child(ren’s) attendance at school, please complete this form We will also be sending out a text message to parents and whānau asking the same question - you do not need to reply to both. Please complete the form by 3pm Tuesday 31st August.

We will have supervision in place for students who need to attend school from 9am - 3pm each day, starting Wednesday 1st September.

Health and Safety
Public health measures apply at Level 3 - physical distancing, hand hygiene, and our cleaners have been instructed to be onsite to regularly clean high touch surfaces. At Level 3 sick people must stay at home. We have not received any advice as yet from the Ministry of Education about mask wearing at school, however, staff and students may wear masks and it is certainly a recommended practice from the Ministry of Health.

Managing exams
NZQA has said that NCEA and Scholarship exams can go ahead under alert levels 1, 2 and 3. At alert level 3 there are additional requirements in terms of physical distancing, and managing congestion prior to the exam. You may already know that the NCEA exams have been shifted back by two weeks. The NCEA exams now start on Monday 22nd November until Tuesday 14th December. Our school exams will now run from Tuesday 21st - Tuesday 28th September in order to give students some more time to prepare.

Prize Giving dates have changed
In order to accommodate the changes to the start of exams, we have also shifted the date for the Senior (Years 11-13 Prize Giving). The new date is: Tuesday 16th November. Our junior prize giving ceremony date remains the same (Thursday 2nd December).

Teaching and learning online
The same expectations apply in Alert Level 3 that we have set up for Alert Level 4.
Teachers will continue to set work on google classroom;
Teachers will let students know when they can attend a google meet. The purpose of this is to address any questions, connect with the teacher and check on how the school work is going. The google meets will be set up for a regular timetable slot to avoid clashes between teachers and subjects;
NCEA internal assessments can continue at home and teachers will be able to give guidance on this;
Teachers will continue with fortnightly grades - the purpose of this is to communicate with parents and whānau online engagement in learning tasks and google meets.

I would like to acknowledge that many staff have had to cancel and/or adjust some of the opportunities that our students would normally have - OP trips, camps, sports tournaments, guest speakers etc. There is a lot of planning and effort that goes into making these things happen. I know that there will be some disappointment for students as well. At Alert Level 3 no trips can go ahead. At Alert Level 2 we are able to accommodate a small range of education outside the classroom trips and opportunities.

Changes to our normal routine affect us all in different ways. Many of us will have different feelings and ideas about lockdowns, the move to Level 3, and keeping up the motivation and engagement with online learning. Please remember that there is a lot of support available (classroom teacher, Deans, Guidance Counsellors). There are also a range of helplines available:
Mental Health Crisis (0800 800 717)
Lifeline (0800 543 354 or 0800 LIFELINE) for counselling and support
Depression Helpline (0800 111 757 or free text 4206) to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions
Healthline (0800 611 116) for advice from trained registered nurses
Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865
Counselling Free Call or Text 1737

I hope you have a good weekend, and thank you for your continued help in supporting our young people to learn online from home.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nicola Jacobsen

Register your student NZ Government COVID-19 Guide

Lockdown Update

August 25th 2021

Tēnā koe

While I write this, it is difficult to know how long this particular lockdown will last with the next announcement from the Government due Friday. However, what I do know is that our staff are well equipped to support students at home and I commend them for their ability to adapt so quickly to the situation. The same goes for our students - their ability to adapt to an online learning environment has been great. It’s a testament to our community’s resilience.

The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ is a great resource and has some simple tips for supporting yourself and whānau. Staying connected during lockdown can be a challenge, but attending class google meet sessions can be a simple way of checking in with the teacher and classmates. Some students may be feeling a little nervous or worried about the upcoming school exams and/or assessments. My message to you is that as a school, we will be looking at how best we can adapt teaching and learning programmes in order to support students completing NCEA.

In terms of expectations for learning at home:
Teachers will continue to set work on google classroom;
Teachers will let students know when they can attend a google meet. The purpose of this is to address any questions, connect with the teacher and check on how the school work is going. The google meets will be set up for a regular timetable slot to avoid clashes between teachers and subjects;
NCEA internal assessments can continue at home and teachers will be able to give guidance on this;
Teachers will continue with fortnightly grades - the purpose of this is to communicate with parents and whānau online engagement in learning tasks and google meets.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sport Tournament Week has been cancelled. I would like to acknowledge that there has been a lot of work and organisation put into getting ready for tournament week by our Sports Coordinators, Sam and Chrissi, coaches, parent helpers and the students themselves. For more information please visit www.nzsssc.org.nz.

All the very best for the next few days.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nicola Jacobsen

NZ Government COVID-19 Guide Five Ways to Wellbeing

Lockdown Continues

August 20th 2021

Tēnā koe

As you have no doubt already heard, New Zealand is staying at COVID Level 4 until Tuesday 24th August, 12:59pm.

In Level 4 no one is allowed to be working from or learning at school.

I appreciate that at present, the balance between looking after yourself and your own whānau, as well as teaching and learning from home, can be challenging. Remember that there is lots of support you can access through the college if you are concerned (contact the classroom teacher for questions about class work, for wellbeing concerns please contact your child’s Dean or the Guidance Counsellors).

In terms of expectations for learning at home:
Teachers will continue to set work on google classroom;
Teachers will let students know when they can attend a google meet. The purpose of this is to address any questions, connect with the teacher and check on how the school work is going. The google meets will be set up for a regular timetable slot to avoid clashes between teachers and subjects;
NCEA internal assessments can continue at home and teachers will be able to give guidance on this;
Teachers will continue with fortnightly grades - the purpose of this is to communicate with parents and whānau online engagement in learning tasks and google meets.

For students who do not have access to a device, we are contacting parents and whanau today (Friday afternoon), with the intention of delivering devices to families on Monday.

At this stage, all Year 8 camps are postponed. Camps will be able to resume at COVID Alert Level 1. We will endeavour to reschedule the Year 8 camps.

We are waiting to hear from New Zealand Secondary Schools Sport about Tournament Week, and will update you once we know.

All the very best for the next few days. I will be updating you regularly on any changes as the situation evolves.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nicola Jacobsen

More information on the different Alert Levels can be seen in the NZ Government guide on COVID-19 (link below).

NZ Government COVID-19 Guide

Lockdown Under Alert Level 4

August 17th 2021

Tēnā koe

As you have no doubt already heard, New Zealand will be moving to Level 4 from 11:59pm tonight (Tuesday) for three days. Auckland will be moving to Level 4 from 11:59pm tonight for seven days.

In Level 4 no one is allowed to be working from or learning at school.

It is important to remember that we have been here before. It is undoubtedly an unsettling time, and your first priority for the next three days is for you to take care of yourself and your whānau.

In terms of learning at home, teachers of senior and junior students will be making contact through google classroom. For senior students, there will be some learning that they can carry on with (study for exams, continuing to work on an internal assessment). For junior students, there will be a small task - reading, writing or using an online programme such as Education Perfect. Our intention with keeping the workload small and manageable is to maintain connection to teachers, to have some routine for our young people in terms of completing work, which may provide a distraction.

Due to the short time to get prepared for Level 4, we are not expecting students to come into school to collect any work or projects that they may have been working on.

We are making a plan for the year 8 students who are currently on camp in terms of getting them home safely. We have been in contact with the police in terms of confirming our plan for this. For the parents of the year 8 students who are currently on camp, there will be a further email about the plan for getting the students home.

The Hostel students will be their own bubble, and we will be making contact with their whānau to ensure that they are supported.

If you need any help or support at any time, or have any questions, please get in touch. Subject teachers will be able to answer any questions about classwork. If you are concerned about your child’s wellbeing, please make contact with the Dean or the Guidance counsellors.

All the very best for the next three days. I will be updating you regularly on any changes as the situation evolves.

Ngā mihi nui,

Nicola Jacobsen

More information on the different Alert Levels can be seen in the NZ Government guide on COVID-19 (link below).

NZ Government COVID-19 Guide