Coronavirus Update

Update #18 25 March 2020

We have had a great first day of remote learning today. I am so pleased that all of our students are safely with their families and are continuing learning. We have two more days of remote learning this week and then of course the term break, which will give everyone some well-needed rest.
 
We have had an orderly close-down of the school campus today and staff are all set up in their home offices with the equipment they need for the next four weeks. Please note that, in line with the directive we have received from the Ministry of Education, our school playgrounds are also closed.
 
If you need to contact the school by phone during the shutdown, please call the usual number 04 476 8707. This number has been diverted to an off-site phone which will be monitored by school staff.  Absences should be notified via email to absences@marsden.school.nz  You can contact your child’s class teacher, form teacher, tutor or dean via email and we encourage you to do so with any concerns about academic learning or student wellbeing.
 
Today we sent out our Term 2 fee accounts via email.  Under normal circumstances these would not have been sent out for a couple more days but, as we cannot currently run our billing process remotely, we needed to do this before the shutdown.  As always, you can contact Christine Allen at christine.allen@marsden.school.nz in our Finance Department to discuss any concerns you have around fee payments. I am very aware that the current situation may be causing financial stress for some of our families and I encourage you to reach out to us if necessary for a confidential discussion.
 
As we go move to Alert Level 4 tonight we feel really well prepared to support our Marsden community.

Please stay safe.

Update #17 25 March – Remote Learning II

Remote learning will commence for all Marsden students tomorrow, Wednesday 25 March.
 
Information has been shared today with Preschool and Primary parents, and Year 7 – 13 students have now been emailed their Synchronous Learning timetables and other information. You can also find the timetables here.
 
From later tomorrow morning you will find all of the information for both parents and students consolidated in the new ‘Remote Learning’ section of our website. You will be directed there from the home page and you can locate it in the About menu. It will also be on MyMarsden (i-SITE). These pages will include the following:
 
Learning @ Home Expectations Years 1-6
Learning @ Home Tips Years 1-6
Remote Learning Principles Years 7-13
Remote Learning Tips Years 7-13
Remote Learning – parent information Years 7-13
 
There is also a padlet on our 'Remote Learning in Action' page, where students and parents can share what is going on with learning and activities at home and to post positive messages. We very much look forward to hearing and seeing what great things are happening.  
 
If you have any concerns or queries regarding Remote Learning please contact:
 
Preschool:  Helen McConnell
Primary: Jennifer Ioannou
Year 7 – 13: Margaret Adeane
 
The learning day starts for all students at their normal time tomorrow!

Update #17 24 March - Remote learning I

"He waka eke noa".

 
School Term Dates
Although independent schools are free to set our own term dates, we have taken the decision to move our term break to remain in line with the state school dates announced yesterday for two reasons:
 
1. Everyone needs a break, and
2. Many families in our community have family members across both the state and independent school sectors and having the holidays out of sync would just add further complication for families during the next four weeks when everyone is sharing the same space at home.
 
The last day of Term 1 will be Friday 27 March.
The first day of Term 2 will be Wednesday 15 April.
 
Remote Learning
Remote learning will commence for all Marsden students tomorrow, Wednesday 25 March. We will continue remote learning when we return from the break on Wednesday 15 April until we are able to reopen. Our pastoral care and wellbeing programmes will continue while we are in remote learning mode. My hope is that everyone across the nation takes the ‘stay at home’ message seriously so that we can minimise the time we spend in Alert Level 4, because school is the best place for students to be during term time.
 
You will receive communication later today regarding tomorrow’s remote learning arrangements. This will include timetables for Years 7 – 13, fact sheets for students and guides for parents.
 
Learning materials and equipment
 If your child was not at school yesterday and needs to access their locker or collect other resources they can do this today or before 12 noon tomorrow. Please enter via the main reception as you will be required to sign in and observe physical distancing requirements while you are here.
 
SchoolTV SPECIAL REPORT: Preparing for Remote Learning
SchoolTV has just produced an excellent Special Report for parents as we face school closures in Australia and New Zealand. We know that the daunting task of establishing new routines and schedules, whilst juggling work responsibilities, could prove to be disruptive and challenging for families.

Some young people will transition seamlessly, whilst others may struggle. Therefore, it will be vitally important for parents to be vigilant in looking for signs of anxiety and depression. Parents will need to continue to be reassuring and supportive in this time of uncertainty and acknowledge that this may be a stressful time for students of all ages.

We will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure that your child’s academic needs are met, but parents will need to play a key role in providing them with the structure and groundwork for success. Young people will be looking towards their parents to keep things in context and help ease the transition to a different learning environment. 

In this Special Report, parents and caregivers will be provided with some guidelines on how best to navigate this time of transition with minimal disruption. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this Special Report, and as always, we welcome your feedback. 

If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.

You can find your special report here.

Aroha nui 

Update #16 23 March – Message to parents/caregivers

As I am sure you are aware, schools across the nation will be closed to all students apart from children of identified essential workers from tomorrow, Tuesday 24 March, and fully closed from midnight on Wednesday 25 March. The Government has moved from Alert Level Two to Alert Level Three and will move to Alert Level Four in 48 hours. To break the community spread of COVID-19 the Government has put the restrictions in place for four weeks to be reviewed after this period.
  
Our Year 7 – 13 students met with their form teachers/tutors for the last part of the day today and were given the opportunity to pack up their essential learning materials so that their learning can continue remotely during the time our campus is closed.  Our Preschool and Primary students had already taken their special packs of essential learning materials home last Friday.
 
There are still many details that are not clear, particularly regarding the reference by the Prime Minister to the ‘school term break being brought forward’ and the ‘essential worker’ definition. I am confident that we will receive clear communication from the Ministry of Education in the next few hours which will allow me to provide you with further details.
 
Arrangements for Tuesday 24 March and Wednesday 25 March

  • We will provide a programme for children of ‘identified essential workers’ both tomorrow and Wednesday, from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Students should bring their own lunch and snacks and may wear mufti.  Note that no school buses will be running until further notice so you will need to make alternative arrangements for travel to and from school. If your child will be at school tomorrow please contact Jennifer Ioannou (Preschool and Primary) or Marg Adeane (Year 7 – 13) as soon as you are able to.
  • All other students can have a day of downtime tomorrow.  It has been a stressful time over the last little while as the COVID-19 situation has been escalating, and it will be good for our students to take some time get themselves settled at home with their families and adjust to what is going to be our ‘new normal’ for a little while. We will need to wait for some further information before I can let you know the plans for Wednesday as it may be term break, or it may be the first day of our remote learning programme.  I hope that we will be able to make arrangements for any students who were not at school today to come in tomorrow to collect their learning materials but I will confirm this once we have further advice from the Ministry of Education.

 
I will update you as soon as possible with further information as it comes to hand.  Please be assured that we will be doing everything that we can during this difficult time to support both the wellbeing and learning of our students and staff.
 
You may like to read the Family Lockdown Guide that I sent through last week if you have not had a chance to already. 

U[date #15 23 March – Message to parents/caregivers

We are currently listening to the Prime Minister speak and are awaiting details from the Ministry of Education. We will be in touch between 4pm and 5pm regarding next steps. 

Update #14 23 March - Message to parents/caregivers

Preparation for remote learning at Marsden
In these unprecedented times we are all learning, adapting and adopting different terminology that is relevant to our ‘new normal’.
 
I would like to introduce you to some of the terminology that we will be using at Marsden if we need to move into remote learning mode at some stage in the future.
 
Self-Managed Learning Menu – our Preschool and Primary students will have a daily learning menu of online and offline activities which will be published each day by 9am. Our teachers will be planning effective daily learning and regularly connecting with students virtually.
 
Our Year 7 – 13 students will be doing both Synchronous and Asynchronous learning.
 
Synchronous Learning (SL): Year 7 – 13 teachers and students will meet online in real time through video conferencing or live chatting on our Google platform. There will be an expectation that all students attend timetabled SL classes unless students have been rung in sick. Teachers will keep their roll.

Asynchronous learning (AL): Year 7 – 13  teachers will create learning experiences for students to work at their own pace, absorb content and present their work in novel and innovative ways. Teachers will provide guidance and feedback through our Google platform.

Remote Learning Timetable: Year 7 – 13 students will have a new weekly timetable for their Synchronous Learning and will self-manage their Asynchronous learning around this. There will be guidelines for including physical activity and wellbeing practices. Form time/tutor time and virtual assemblies will be built into the remote learning timetable.
 
Further, more detailed information, including timetables, will be provided if necessary.

Advice regarding NCEA assessments
We have had advice from NZQA that they are exploring options to create flexibility in our assessment of students for NCEA internal assessment. The aim will be to make it possible for us to assess students remotely, if required. NZQA is working to produce templates to help teachers adapt assessment to enable alternative ways of gathering evidence where appropriate. This may be through written, oral, digital or video assessment and it may involve teachers making their judgement by collecting evidence from a range of different examples of work. We are fortunate that the nature of NCEA, with its modularised assessment and internal component, enables such an approach. Our ongoing assessment programme can be adapted as required; we do not want students stressing about their NCEA and assessment. 
 
Vulnerable people
Information about who is considered vulnerable was updated yesterday on the COVID-19.govt.nz website.
 
Thank you all for your ongoing support and positivity. 

Update #13 22 March - Message to parents/caregivers

Update on potential ‘close contact’
Further to my email last night, regarding the Marsden students who travelled on the same flight as one of yesterday’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, I am pleased to confirm that none of our students have been identified as ‘close contacts’ of this case. 

We have reflected on this situation and taken further advice, and have decided that it would be wise to ask all of these students to self-isolate until 14 days after the flight as an extra precaution to protect our broader community.  Note that this is a precautionary measure only.

I know that there will be questions regarding the potential impact on other students. Our advice is that even if someone has been identified as a ‘contact’ (which none of our girls have been), ‘contacts of contacts’  are not required to self-isolate at this stage. If you have any concerns at all I ask that you contact Healthline or review the Ministry of Health self-isolation guidelines.

Update on Scots College Year 8
We have been informed by Scots College that they remain open tomorrow for all siblings and all year levels other than Year 8 and at that stage they are anticipating that all students and staff will be back at school on Tuesday. If this situation changes I will update you.

Alert Level 2
With the announcement yesterday that New Zealand has moved to Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact for COVID-19, people over 70 years of age and those with compromised immunity and certain existing medical conditions are asked to remain at home as much as they can from now on and avoid any non-essential travel.

This advice applies to school students and staff. I will be talking to impacted staff today about how Marsden can best support them at this time and we will be putting plans in place to ensure that educational programmes go ahead in the way that  they usually do when staff are unable to attend due to illness.

Please email both absences@marsden.school.nz and your child’s class teacher, form teacher or tutor to let them know if this situation impacts your family so that they can liaise with other teachers to ensure that arrangements are made for your child’s learning to continue. Please reassure your children that we can be flexible regarding any assessments that they may be worried about.

School transport
The Ministry of Education (MOE) is currently working with the bus companies to assess the impacts on school transport as there are a number of school bus drivers over 70 years of age. The MOE has asked the bus companies to contact affected schools today if they have been unable to find replacement drivers. If any of our bus routes are affected I will let you know via email as soon as possible.

Event Cancellations
On Friday we received notification that The Big Sing will not go ahead this year.  Just like the sporting tournaments which have been cancelled, this event is a really important goal each year for a large number of our girls.  The cancellation email came in to my inbox as I was listening to the Ad Summa girls rehearsing next to me in the auditorium and I just couldn’t bring myself to walk in there and tell them at that moment.  Of course, with social media being what it is, the news was out before the end of the rehearsal and I know that many of the girls felt devastated. We will be reassuring the girls that they are not going to stop playing sport at Marsden and we are not going to stop singing or preparing for performances. The organisers of The Big Sing are looking at putting together virtual choir projects and other performances opportunities.

Marsden kindness
There has been a lot of talk of the importance of kindness as our community responds to the unprecedented situation we now find ourselves in. I feel very blessed to be part of the Marsden community where kindness is in our DNA.  I know that many of the girls are feeling sad about event cancellations, but what I also know is that they try to live out our Marsden values of Excellence, Resilience, Creativity and Service every single day.  Our Resilience might be being testing a little bit at the moment, and there will no doubt be times when all of us feel like having a good cry, but we will get through this.  Our Creativity is going to be unleashed as we adapt to new ways of doing things for a while, and there are others in our community who are going to need the Service we can provide.

Update #12 21 March – Message to parents/caregivers

I am writing to let you know that we are aware that one of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 announced today travelled on the same domestic flight as a group of our students on Thursday 12 March. 
 
None of our students have been identified as contacts of this person at this stage. However, in the interests of our broader community I have asked them all to self-isolate as a precaution until we get a definitive answer regarding whether the contact tracing is complete.
 
I have been speaking to the Director of Education for the Wellington Region regarding this situation and am hoping to receive an update soon.  I will let you know as soon as possible. 
 
Although I believe that it is unlikely at this stage that we will be impacted by this, I would prefer to be transparent about the slight uncertainty we currently face. 

Update #11 - info re Year 8 students at Scots College 21 March 2020

You may have read in the press that a parent of a Year 8 Scots College student has been diagnosed with COVID-19.  As there is a small possibility that the Year 8 son has been infected, Scots College has asked all Year 8 students to remain at home for Monday and Tuesday as a precautionary measure while the student is tested. 

Note that only Year 8 Scots College students are impacted as they have been away at camp for the past week rather than at school.

If you have a Year 8 son who attends Scots College and will be self-isolating I request that, as a precautionary measure for the Marsden community, you do not send any of your other children who attend Marsden to school on Monday or Tuesday. 
 
Please email both absences@marsden.school.nz and your child’s class teacher, form teacher or tutor to let them know if this situation impacts your family so that they can liaise with other teachers to ensure that arrangements are made for your child’s learning to continue. Please reassure your children that we can be flexible regarding any assessments that they may be worried about. 

Update # 10 20 March 2020 - Message to parents/caregivers

With so much information and misinformation swirling around about COVID-19, I 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.

 

  • As you know, if our school does need to close temporarily, we have a plan in place to support student learning.

 

Whether you send your children to school on any day is ultimately your decision. If you wish to keep your children in voluntary self-isolation at the moment please be assured that we will respect your decision and their absence will be noted as ‘Justified’ Please make contact with us at absences@marsden.school.nz to let us know and we will ensure that the relevant teachers are informed so that they can provide work and keep in touch.

 

Rules on gatherings do not apply to schools:

You may have seen yesterday that the Government has announced that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are to be cancelled. This does not apply to schools, early learning services, tertiary providers, workplaces, supermarkets or public transport. The Ministry of Education will continue to provide us with guidance around events and gatherings that could be relevant to schools.

 

 

Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards:

We have received communication from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards organisation letting us know that they’re willing to be very flexible in this changing environment so participants can continue their Award activities in creative ways to ensure that they can keep their Award progress on track.   

 

Our Year 10 students are due to do their Bronze Award practice tramp the week after next. We have been informed that a one day practice without having to stay overnight will be accepted for the award on the grounds that the Award Leader is satisfied that the participant is prepared enough and ensures it meets the Safety Management Systems of the Award Unit.  Our Year 10 practice tramps will now be day walks.  Eliott Brookes will be in touch with parents and students regarding the new arrangements early next week.  Any other queries regarding Duke of Edinburgh’s awards should be directed to Eliott Brookes.

 

Debating:

The organisers of the Wellington regional debating competition have been in touch to let us know that the Year 9 – 13 debating competition has been cancelled until further notice.  We will be looking at alternatives for running an internal debating programme at Marsden until the students can compete again.

 

Making sure we are prepared: 

At the end of the day today we will be encouraging students to take home any materials they might need if they were required to learn at home next week…. just in case!  This includes their devices, reading and drawing material etc.  This is a precaution only, at this stage we fully expect to be here on Monday.

Update #9 19 March 2020 - Message to parents/caregivers

I know that some of you have concerns about your children attending school at the moment, which is not surprising given what we are seeing in the media about other countries.
 
Our latest advice (yesterday evening) from the Ministry of Education (MOE) is that, at this stage, they are not expecting widespread school closures. The MOE is planning for temporary closures, as is happening at Logan Park School but, as the World Health Organisation has confirmed, the risk to children remains low, and parents should continue to send their children to schools and early learning centres. The MOE will be making any decisions about school closures on a case by case basis. In the meantime, unless students are unwell, they believe that parents should keep sending them to schools and early learning centres, as these environments continue to be safe and the best place for them to continue their learning.
 
Whether you send your children to school on any day is ultimately your decision. If you wish to keep your children in voluntary self-isolation at the moment please be assured that we will respect your decision and their absence will be noted as ‘Justified’. Please make contact with us at absences@marsden.school.nz to let us know and we will ensure that the relevant teachers are informed so that they can provide work and keep in touch.
 
Changes to self-isolation recommendations

You would be aware that yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister requested that all people who arrived in New Zealand in the last 14 days self-isolate.  This has impacted a small number of our families and I thank them for their proactivity in immediately acting on this advice, seeking advice from health professionals, and communicating openly with us.  This type of considered and caring response is something that I have come to expect from the Marsden community and value highly.
 
Up-to-date information and advice
 
A reminder that information and advice for students, whānau and the education sector is available here.
 
While the website is being regularly updated with education-related content, the Ministry of Health is the Government agency leading the response to COVID-19.
 
Local and Regional Sports cancellations
 
We were advised yesterday afternoon by College Sport Wellington that all Term One events will be suspended as of this morning (Thursday, 19 March).  This decision was made with the knowledge that, in all likelihood, these competitions will not be resumed. 
 
The decision impacts our students who have been involved in Floorball, Futsal, Handball, Tennis, Rowing, Volleyball, Equestrian, Cricket and Athletics.
 
Looking ahead to the winter season, at this point in time College Sport Wellington won’t be making any decision about deferring the winter season but will begin assessing from next week, as more Ministry of Health information becomes available. Currently, School Sport NZ is talking to the National Sports’ Organisations about improving the consistency of messaging and better consultation with the school sporting bodies regarding directives around suspending trialling and training.  By Monday, College Sport Wellington hopes there will be a clearer picture available.  Wellington schools' Sports Directors are meeting on Monday and my hope is that through this the local schools will all agree to adopt a uniform approach to trainings/trials.  I will communicate with you again following that meeting, but until then it is business as usual for our internal sports events that are run on our campus, including training and trials.
 
We have received notification that the following sports tournaments have been cancelled as more than 500 participants were expected to attend:

 

  • Western Zone Football for Year 5 to 8 students – was to take place on Tuesday 24 March
  • Primary Sport Futsal for Year 7 and 8 students – was to take place on Wednesday 8 April

 

All Wellington West events have also been cancelled.
 
Other school events
 
As we are now in the ‘Stamp it Out’ phase of the New Zealand pandemic response, school-related events for students and staff which involve international and domestic travel outside of the local area are being postponed.  At the moment our planning horizon on this goes out to the end of Week 2 of Term 2 (Friday 8 May).  Events impacted are in this period are: 

 

  • Year 13 PE Risk Management trip to Abel Tasman – we hope to relocate the learning activities to the Wellington area.
  • Year 11 History trip to Parihaka (29 – 30 April) - we will be looking to reschedule this if possible.

 

Preparation for remote learning
 
At the moment I have asked Marsden staff to focus on two things only:

1. Providing the richest possible learning environment for our students in the current circumstances which mean we are unable to run some of our usual activities, and  
2. Planning for providing the richest possible remote learning environment for our students if we are required to move into remote learning mode at some time in the future.  

Both of these scenarios provide us with opportunities for creativity and innovation. I am so encouraged by our amazing staff and all the work that they are doing to keep things as normal as possible for our students, while planning ahead for an eventuality which would be unprecedented, but would offer us, as educators, rich opportunities for growth.  The global education community is generously sharing the valuable experiences gained over the last few months as schools in various countries have moved to remote learning, and we are adopting a ‘Brave, not perfect’ mindset as we prepare. 
 
In the background, our crisis management team has been actively working on the COVID-19 ‘incident’ for over 7 weeks now… we have now passed the 50 day mark and are feeling confident that we are in a strong position to support our community going forward… whatever that may mean!
 
I would like to leave you today with Professor Lea Waters’ latest Guardian article Silver Linings: how to stay positive in the coronavirus crisis.
 

Update #8 17 March 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

1. National Sports Tournaments
As we expected, the Prime Minister has announced restrictions to mass gathering as part of the New Zealand COVID-19 response. Last night we received confirmation from School Sport New Zealand that all events on the School Sport NZ National Calendar are currently suspended. This will impact our teams who were planning to travel to the following events during Summer Tournament week:

~Maadi Cup in Twizel
~National Volleyball tournament in Palmerston North
~National Tennis tournament in Christchurch
~National Futsal tournament in Wellington

I know that this is disappointing for the girls and their coaches as they have been working hard in preparation for these events. School Sport NZ will review this decision on Monday 6th April. Some events where alternative dates are not possible will be cancelled, others may be postponed and we will be advised of changes in due course.

The suspension of the national calendar is a wise decision given that these events feature schools travelling from all over New Zealand and as such present a potentially heightened risk of wider community spread by comparison to regional or local events. Medical advice is that the risk of transmission is low at community level, where there has been no person-to-person spread, but significantly higher in situations in which airports, air-travel and hotels are involved as characterised by events on the School Sport NZ national calendar.

At this stage local and regional sports events are continuing.

2. Home Technology audit
As part of our preparation for the possibility of needing to implement remote learning at some time in the future, Form and Tutor teachers will be taking the students through a questionnaire tomorrow morning at form time, or tomorrow afternoon at tutor time, to ascertain what technology our students have available at home to access online resources. The questions will include if they have a device, the type and operating system (Mac or Windows), if Google Chrome is downloaded (this is needed), webcam and microphone access, Wifi access and whether it is unlimited, and available via fibre or VDSL. It would be fantastic if you could discuss these with your daughter tonight so we are able to collate answers from every student by the end of business tomorrow.

Primary teachers will be in direct contact with parents if necessary with any questions they have about access to home technology.

3. Sick children at school
If your child is unwell or showing signs of being unwell, we ask that you keep them at home. Sending sick children to school results in infection spreading and unhappy children. If your child displays symptoms of illness such as a sore throat, high temperature, cough and respiratory issues please consult a medical professional immediately.

Children displaying signs of illness at school will be assessed by our School Nurse who will make contact with parents. Please ensure that we have up-to-date contact details for your emergency caregivers in the case that your child is ill and we are unable to contact you.

4. Large gatherings at school
We have reviewed our plans for whole school assemblies for the rest of the term and have decided to run an alternate learning programme which keeps the girls in smaller groups, either in their year levels, form classes, tutor groups or primary class syndicates during assembly times. The focus of this programme will be on wellbeing. Unfortunately this means that we have postponed the Scholars Assembly which was scheduled for the last week of term. We will reschedule this as soon as we are able so that we can celebrate 2019’s academic successes.

5. Further resources for parents
As you would be aware, Marsden provides parents with access to the SchoolTV platform. SchoolTV has put together a great update for parents which I encourage you to access here:
https://marsden.nz.schooltv.me/wellbeing_news/special-report-coronavirus

This is also a great article for parents, published in The Guardian, with significant input from our Visible Wellbeing partner, Professor Lea Waters: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/the-family-lockdown-guide-how-to-emotionally-prepare-for-coronavirus-quarantine


Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #7 16 March 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

I know that you will have been following the news at the weekend regarding the evolving global response to COVID-19 pandemic and would be aware that three new confirmed cases were announced taking the total confirmed cases for New Zealand to eight. We have been advised by the Ministry of Education this morning that these cases are not connected with any schools or early learning services and they are doing well and two are self-isolating at home/hotel with one being treated in hospital.
 
While the travel restriction measures announced by the Prime Minister at the weekend and likely future restrictions on mass gatherings will support the slowing of COVID-19 in New Zealand, it is unrealistic to expect they will prevent further cases and there is the possibility that any school could be closed for a period of time due to COVID-19.
 
At Marsden we have been actively planning for this for some time now and we are confident that our learning programmes will be able to continue through remote learning if necessary.  We have strong online learning platforms in place (Seasaw in the Primary School and Hapara for Year 7 – 13) and video conferencing capabilities through Google classroom. My hope is that our school is able to continue operating as we know that, in times of uncertainty, routine and social connection is very important for children and young people.
 
We will be taking additional preventative measures including:
 
1. Additional cleaning of surfaces
2. Postponing non-essential large gatherings at school. Events will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and students and families involved will be notified of any postponements. This morning we chose not to run our Innovation Series lecture or Primary Assembly. Please be patient as we work through the detail and make considered decisions about future events.

Prevention remains a priority. Students, staff and our wider school community still have a very large role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 through:


1. Awareness – know the symptoms and where to get good information.  The Ministry of Health website is the place to go.  

2. Vigilance - As is normal procedure, if your child is unwell or showing signs of being unwell, we ask that you keep them at home. Sending sick children to school results in infection spreading and unhappy children. We will request that any child displaying signs of illness is collected immediately. If your child displays symptoms of illness such as sore throat, high temperature, cough and respiratory issues please consult a medical professional immediately. Please ensure that we have up-to-date contact details for your emergency caregivers, in the case that your child is ill and we are unable to contact you.
  

3. Good hygiene – hand washing and drying, good cough and sneeze etiquette will prevent spread of a range of ills as we move into cold and flu season.  

If any member of your household is in self-isolation can you please let us know so that we can provide you with additional support via our school nurse.  Please contact my EA, Alison McManus at alison.mcmanus@marsden.school.nz.
 
With prevention in mind, a key message for all of us is the importance of keeping COVID-19 out of the Pacific Islands. We saw the devastating effects of measles in Samoa and it is vital we do everything we can to stop COVID-19 from reaching their shores. The Ministry of Health website remains the best source of information on COVID-19 for New Zealand.
 
We can all play an important role in helping our children and young people to cope with unsettling events through the way we respond ourselves.  For example, in my Year 10 class this morning we took some time to focus on all of the positive things going on at the moment, and agreed that the inability to travel when we want to, is a ‘first world problem’, even if it means we may miss family events or things we had been looking forward to… that may be ‘sad’ but it is not ‘really bad’.

You may find this graphic from the World Health Organisation on ‘Helping Children Cope with Stress in the 2019-nCoV Outbreak’ helpful. 

If you have any questions please contact us on 476 8707. 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #6 12 March 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As noted by the Minister of Health, this doesn’t change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.
 
The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.
 
We have 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home.  Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. While we expect that more cases will arise, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. We all have a role to play in this.
 
At Marsden, our pandemic plan is also ready to be implemented if needed. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.
 
You will appreciate the importance of giving children factual, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 so that they can feel informed and in control. The Ministry of Education has put together some  guidance to support parents to have those conversations – Talking to children about coronavirus
 
With that, there is a good video clip from Nanogirl that may help your children to better understand the virus - YouTube clip - Nanogirl. We watched this video in our Year 7–13 Assembly on Monday morning. You may like to watch it and discuss it with your younger children if you feel that is age-appropriate for them.  Year 8 students were not at Assembly on Monday due to their camp so it may be good to watch this with them at some stage over the weekend.  Our Primary students enjoyed practising hand-washing together whilst singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in their Assembly last Friday.
 
You may also have also seen the Prime Minister sat down with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard, to talk about coronavirus:

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. I am encouraging our staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same with your children. Colds and flu are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practicing good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.

 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #5 10 March 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

Many of you will be aware that some of the very small number of cases of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand have had links to school communities.  I appreciate this could be unsettling for some of you so I wanted to provide you with an update.
 
It was very reassuring to read the information from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service that the children in these families are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and are doing well. Because the children continue to not show any symptoms, they were not infectious when they were at school and the Ministry of Health is confident there is no risk for the students and staff in those schools.
 
You will also be interested to know that research published by the World Health Organisation notes that children and young people under 18 account for only 2.4% of all reported cases of COVID-19. This means we are unlikely to see widespread cases in schools and early learning services in New Zealand.
 
The Ministry of Health’s current advice is that with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low. So we all have a role here to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
 
Our school staff and leadership team remain well prepared for the possibility there might be a case in our community. If that were to occur we are confident we can put our plans in place and know we will be supported by regional health authorities and the Ministry of Education.
 
I am sure you are all keen to do what you can to prevent the risk of infection. The best preventative steps are:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments
  • stay home when you are sick and seek medical attention
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the rubbish
  • get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

 
If you want to know more about COVID-19 please make sure that any reading you are doing is from a reliable source. The Ministry of Health is the best source of information for New Zealand and they update this information regularly - https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
 
A reminder that anyone who is ill should not be attending school.
 
The COVID-19 symptoms are a fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. If anyone has these symptoms and has recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please encourage them to contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or their doctor immediately.

 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #4 4 March 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

Many of you will be aware that some of the very small number of cases of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand have had links to school communities.  I appreciate this could be unsettling for some of you so I wanted to provide you with an update.
 
It was very reassuring to read the information from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service that the children in these families are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 and are doing well. Because the children continue to not show any symptoms, they were not infectious when they were at school and the Ministry of Health is confident there is no risk for the students and staff in those schools.
 
You will also be interested to know that research published by the World Health Organisation notes that children and young people under 18 account for only 2.4% of all reported cases of COVID-19. This means we are unlikely to see widespread cases in schools and early learning services in New Zealand.
 
The Ministry of Health’s current advice is that with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low. So we all have a role here to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
 
Our school staff and leadership team remain well prepared for the possibility there might be a case in our community. If that were to occur we are confident we can put our plans in place and know we will be supported by regional health authorities and the Ministry of Education.
 
I am sure you are all keen to do what you can to prevent the risk of infection. The best preventative steps are:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid sharing anything that has come in contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments
  • stay home when you are sick and seek medical attention
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the rubbish
  • get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

 
If you want to know more about COVID-19 please make sure that any reading you are doing is from a reliable source. The Ministry of Health is the best source of information for New Zealand and they update this information regularly - https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
 
A reminder that anyone who is ill should not be attending school.
 
The COVID-19 symptoms are a fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. If anyone has these symptoms and has recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please encourage them to contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or their doctor immediately.

 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #3 2 February 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

I am writing with further updated advice regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak and the impact on Marsden students.
 
You may have seen that the Prime Minister has made an announcement this afternoon. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new-zealand-restrict-travel-china-protect-against-coronavirus.  It includes information concerning New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning from China, and foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China:
 
“The Government is placing temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China to assist with the containment of the novel coronavirus and to protect New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from the disease.
  
New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning to New Zealand will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members, but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival back in the country.”
 
The New Zealand Ministry of Education have updated their advice to schools, now recommending that all students and staff who have travelled to China recently should not attend school for two weeks after they return to New Zealand as a precautionary measure.
 
I am therefore requesting that parents or caregivers of any student who may be at high risk of exposure to the virus because they have recently been to China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, refrain from sending your children to school until they have been back in New Zealand for 14 days.  During this time, you should be on the alert for symptoms related to a fever or respiratory symptoms. These include a cough, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, a sore throat, or a runny nose. Please visit your local GP if these symptoms are present.
 
If your family is in this situation, please contact your child’s classroom teacher (Primary) or Dean (Year 7 – 13) as soon as possible, so that we can ensure that Marsden is able to provide academic and pastoral support whilst your child is not attending school.
 
The Ministry of Health has provided practical information on their website which we encourage you to read - Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) guidance – Ministry of Health website. This includes advice about self-isolation. This content will continue to be updated as further information becomes available.
 
If you have any questions you can also contact our School Nurse, Janet Callaghan, at 
janet.callaghan@marsden.school.nz.
 
Marsden will continue to closely monitor the information being provided by the Ministry of Health, in regard to the Coronavirus and provide updates regarding our response as required.

 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #2 30 January 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

Since my letter to you earlier today, we have received further communication from the New Zealand Ministry of Education, which updates their advice to schools regarding students and staff who have recently travelled to China.

 

We have been informed that the Ministry of Health has updated their health advice with a more narrowed focus on which geographic areas within China are deemed at most risk for exposure to the infection – these are Wuhan City and Hubei province.


Based on the latest advice from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education’s advice to schools has now been amended to the following:

For any staff member or student who has recently been to Wuhan City or Hubei province, or has been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, we encourage you to ask the staff member or parent/caregiver of the student to delay the start of their school year for 14 days and stay home. 

I am therefore requesting that, if your family has been to Wuhan City or Hubei province, or has had contact with someone who has been confirmed with novel coronavirus, you refrain from sending your children to school for 14 days.

 

If your family is in this situation, please contact your child’s classroom teacher (Primary) or Dean (Year 7 – 13) as soon as possible, so that we can ensure that Marsden is able to provide academic and pastoral support whilst your child is not attending school.

 

The Ministry of Health has provided practical information on their website which we encourage you to read - Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) guidance – Ministry of Health website. This content will continue to be updated as further information becomes available. If you have any questions you can also contact our School Nurse, Janet Callaghan, at janet.callaghan@marsden.school.nz.

 

Marsden will continue to closely monitor the information being provided by the Ministry of Health, in regard to the Coronavirus and provide updates regarding our response as required.

 

We thank you for your assistance with this situation.

 

Narelle Umbers
Principal

Update #1 27 January 2020 – Message to parents/caregivers

Principal, Narelle Umbers

Narelle Umbers
Principal
Email
Contact us on 476-8707 if you have any questions.