Safety tips for Principals, teachers and staff to protect children

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Safety of our children against Covid-19 is everyone’s responsibility (Photo from ENZ Website)

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Wellington, January 24, 2022

New Zealand has moved to Red Setting on January 24, 2022 under the Traffic Lights System of the Covid-19 Protection Network.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) has issued guidelines for Principals, Headmasters, Teachers and Staff of educational institutions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, especially Omicron. The following is an extract from ENZ website.

At Red, action should be taken to protect both at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.

There are greater risks so extra public health precautions are necessary to protect our learners.

Schools are open with staff and students on site.

Safety measures

Use the Covid-19 Tracer App and record where you have been; Wear face coverings; Physical distancing; Get vaccinated; If you are sick or feeling unwell, stay home.

While schools are open for onsite learning with public health measures in place, distance learning should be supported for those who need to remain at home. Specified outdoor school or sporting events are allowed with capacity limits. Regional boundary restrictions may apply.

The Covid-19 Protection Framework means that we will be free to move and live with less disruption, with stability for businesses to plan for the future.

There will be a range of mitigations in place at all settings of the framework, and others you may want to or need to implement, depending on your risks. For example, you may be in a population that has a lower vaccination rate, and therefore the risk of spread of Covid-19 is greater than it would be for a highly vaccinated community.

You and your community may be familiar with all the health measures.

Students should be assured of care-free education (Photo from ENZ Website)

Vaccination of staff and others

From 1 January 2022, only fully vaccinated staff, support people and volunteers can have contact with children and students. This applies to all settings of the Covid-19 Protection Network: Red, Orange and Green. Schools and all educational institutions must maintain an onsite register of their vaccination status.

This applies to all teachers and principals, all home-based educators, all support staff in schools, teacher-aides, administration staff, maintenance staff, contractors, parents or other volunteers.

Exemptions: A small number of these staff are able to apply for an exemption on medical grounds through the Ministry of Health. An exemption will last up to six months and there will be appropriate health measures in place to mitigate any additional risk. You may not restrict student access based on vaccination status. All learners have the right to access education.

Schools are prohibited from restricting access to education based on vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination or a My Vaccine Pass is not required as a condition of entry, use or access for (a) Onsite learning at all registered schools (including private providers) for all children, students and their parents, whanau or caregivers (b) All school hostels (c) All school transport services (d) All Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) programmes

Schools cannot limit services to children or caregivers based on vaccination status. They may request information about the vaccination status of learners for their records.

Everyone in New Zealand aged 12 and over can book their free Covid -19 vaccination now online or by phone.

Wear a face-covering: At Red setting, there are places where everyone must wear a face covering such as on public transport, in supermarkets, on public transport and in healthcare facilities.

Face coverings are required for all students Year 4 and upwards when indoors or in close contact with others.  Teachers and staff should also wear face coverings for classes Years 4 and up.

Face coverings are required on school transport for students aged 12 and up. At other places, everyone is encouraged to wear a face covering and keep two metres distance.

Maintain good hygiene: Use basic hygiene measures, including cleaning of surfaces, washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbow and avoiding touching your face. Schools must complete regular cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces. This includes items like door handles and phones.

Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser and rub hands together if soap and water are unavailable. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put them in a bin immediately. Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean. Use hand sanitiser at entrances to indoor spaces in Red and Orange settings.

Ventilate classrooms and shared spaces:  Well ventilated classrooms support positive engagement and minimise the transmission of illnesses. Where appropriate, open windows, doors and vents to promote cross-flow of air and avoid stagnant air.

Schools should recognise that different ventilation and temperature control may be necessary depending on the layout and design of the property.

Contact tracing is a key part of how we respond to cases.

All schools are required to display QR code posters for the NZ Covid Tracer App and have a contact tracing system (timetable, attendance register and visitor register) to assist health authorities when there are cases connected with your school.

All visitors should scan in using the New Zealand Covid Tracer App or use another method such as a physical visitor register. This helps with rapid contact tracing if it is required.

Please keep your registers for at least two months.

The information you capture will need to identify which children are in each teaching space. This includes recording all onsite contacts including parents and caregivers (but not including pick-ups and drop-offs). Schools should ensure that they have up-to-date lists for sports teams, cultural and other groups. If parents and caregivers check-in using the New Zealand Covid Tracer App when doing drop-offs and pick-ups, they won’t need to also sign in through your visitor register (or simplified register).

Your timetable should reflect the roaster of teachers. Record the days when relief teachers and other staff were in class in addition to the timetabled teacher. You should have contact details of all students, parents, caregivers and staff for any future need.

Source: Education New Zealand

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