Tena Koutou Parents, Caregivers and Whanau.
Kia ora e hoa mä.
He aroha whakatō, he aroha ka puta mai.
If kindness is sown, then kindness is what you shall receive.
This week’s newsletter contains the information I have been sent from the Ministry of Education regarding children returning to school.
Please be assured that we will be following all the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health guidelines as listed below.
We will be doing our very best to ensure that your children are safe on their return to school, and look forward to greeting them on Monday morning.
The overriding principles for Alert Level 2 are:
to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place.
to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person, if someone in a school or early learning centre is infected.
understand that Level 2 is not business as usual.
Changes from Alert Level 3
The significant changes for schools and early learning centres are:
Physical Distancing – Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. In an Alert Level 2 school environment, this means children, young people, and staff maintaining a physical distance so that they are not breathing on or touching each other, coupled with good hygiene practices (coughing into your elbow, handwashing and drying) and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. There are situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as some sporting activities. In these situations, extra emphasis on handwashing and drying (or cleansing with hand sanitiser) before and after activities and regular cleaning of equipment is very important. In an early learning environment, it is not really possible to have a physical distance between children and staff. Young children require a lot of physical support and it is not possible to explain or maintain a physical distance between young children given the age of the children and set up of centres. This means good hygiene practices (coughing into your elbow, regular handwashing, and drying) are even more important.
Mass gatherings – workplaces, educational facilities, and public and school transport are not considered mass gatherings. This means there are no restrictions on numbers of people indoors or outside at schools and early learning services other than what other public health or health and safety measures require.
The exception is where people from outside the school may be attending, e.g. for a school production or school ball. In these examples and if a school is hiring out their hall or allowing community groups to use school facilities, the mass gathering rules will apply.
Sports and playgrounds – school playgrounds, sports equipment use and activities can resume. Contact sports can resume. This relies on being able to contact trace who is on site during school hours and at school team training and competitions. Any inter school events that recommence will need to have a contact tracing register in place to record those playing for and against teams.
There is no bubble concept at Level 2 so there are no restrictions on groups of children and students mixing with others on site. Where practicable where groups/classes do mix – attendance should be recorded as it should if the composition of groups and classes change during the day.
Teachers/staff are not restricted to one group and can move freely between groups of students.
Public health measures that must be taken in schools
In addition to your usual practices when managing health and safety, there are some specific public health requirements for Alert Level 2 that must be adhered to in all schools:
Parents are asked to keep any sick children at home. If a sick child comes to school, send them home.
Children, young people and staff should be far enough away from each other so that they are not breathing on or touching each other, coupled with good hygiene practices and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. There does not need to be a specific measurement but where practicable 1 metre should be used as a guide, particularly between adults.
Hand sanitizer at entry to class rooms and in shared spaces. Soap, water and the ability to dry hands must be provided in bathrooms.
Where practicable ensure that children and young people regularly wash and dry hands, cough and sneeze into their elbow, and try to avoid touching their face.
Physical education classes and break time activities can include access to sports equipment including playgrounds but hygiene practice should be observed after playing with equipment.
Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily.
Contact tracing registers must be set up and identify which children and adults are on site, in each teaching space, including recording if there is a different composition of children and adults during the day. This includes recording visitors to the site, including parents.
Consider whether students should be allowed off the premises at lunchtime. A staff member will be collecting fish and chips from the Blue Diamond Restaurant.
PPE is not required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by the Public Health Service.
Do we have to stop the general public from using our playgrounds?
No, public and school playgrounds will be open at Alert Level 2. You are not expected to regularly clean playgrounds. The greater level of freedom at Level 2 means that hand washing is even more important, including after playtimes.
Do I have to include parents who are doing drop offs and pick-ups in our visitor register? Yes you do if they come on to school grounds. Contact tracing continues to be an incredibly important part of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. Recording who comes on-site means you could work with health authorities to identify who had been in close contact with that person, if there was a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 in your school community. Depending on the age or needs of children and young people, some parents and caregivers will need to come on-site for drop offs and pick-ups. They will need to be captured in your visitor register but you won’t need to ask for email addresses, phone numbers etc, as you should already have that information on file. You may wish to use a separate system for capturing visitors that are only there for drop offs and pick-ups (a pre-printed list which people can tick as they come into the grounds or school building for example), or consider asking those parents and caregivers to use a particular gate or entrance point to manage this more easily.
Please if possible drop off/pick up your children at the back gate.
If you come onto the school grounds for a pickup or drop off, please tick the “Pick up Drop Off’ register on the relevant days beside your name.
If you are not a parent caregiver of a child at Riversdale School, you must enter the building at the Office/Front door and complete the Visitor Register.
We would prefer that you come through the office area if you are entering the building.
School buses will run as they did prior to lockdown. Mr Robin Stevenson, Ritchies Coachlines Manager, has advised that the drivers will be sanitizing buses after the morning run and afternoon bus run. He would prefer that siblings sat together. Teachers will be marking the bus rolls. Please ensure you notify the office if your child is off the bus in the afternoon.
Ka kite ano
Coming Up This Term …
Monday 25 May Board of Trustees meeting 7.30pm.
Monday 1 June School Closed. Queen’s Birthday observed.
Getting Kids Ready for School after Lockdown
Lockdown has been a strange time for everyone and returning to a ‘more normal existence’ will be a huge relief for many. However, there will be some children and adults who may feel anxious about leaving their ‘bubble’ or struggle to get back into a routine. These tips may help to reduce anxiety and ease the return to the classroom.
CALM AND CERTAINTY IS THE WAY. Our (adult) behaviour and response to uncertain situations is very important. Children are looking to us for a sense that things are OK. If we look and act as though we are doing OK, and alongside them come up with a plan going forward, then this will aid them. If you are stressed or worried about what is going on then you would do well to follow these guidelines, as well as your kids.
The ideas below may require a little adjustment depending on age or temperament of your child.
You know them best. Talk with your child about each of these and try to give them some control
over how each might look. Negotiate, but have your bottom line.
Don’t try to change too many things, too much, too quickly. Tackle one or two of the changes
below and alter them a bit at a time in the lead up to a return to school e.g. if they are waking at
10:00am now then slowly return to their old school wake time over several days.
Stress and anxiety is all about uncertainty and not knowing (“what if….”). THE ANTIDOTE TO
UNCERTAINTY IS… CERTAINTY. As such, in preparation for a return to school (which is likely a source of uncertainty to your child) focus on maximising routine and structure in your child’s life. This is about getting them back into the old routines that previously worked, plus maybe adding some new ones that might further reduce their stress/anxiety.
Core aspects of structure and routine to work on:
SLEEP. Get back into a set sleep routine everyday e.g. teeth, book, bed. The main thing is ensuring the wake up time is the same every day (this anchors the sleep/ wake cycle). Also, no devices in bedroom from an hour prior bedtime, and no naps during the day.
MEALS. Having consistent meal times is helpful. Start to return to original school day meal times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat as a family at the table.
EXERCISE AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITY. Exercise is brilliant at reducing stress and anxiety, especially in green spaces. Try to get them (and you) outdoors for more than 30min every day. It will reduce stress and improve sleep as well.
FAMILY TIME / SOCIAL TIME. Try to go back to, or start some new social routines e.g. regular game nights, walks, baking together, eating dinner at the table together, ‘daddy-daughter time’, ‘mum-son time’, and so on.
SCREENS (!) Negotiate clear limits and times (e.g. none in bedroom after dinner) and agree on rules to monitor what your child is doing (e.g. agree to occasionally look at browsing history or texts).
ROUTINE ‘TO DO’ LISTS. Create a morning routine list, or things to check off when home from school or tidying their room. Use other privileges as incentives, e.g. “When you have done your morning to do list, you can have your phone/TV time”.
REINFORCE HOUSE RULES. Now is a great time to re-negotiate and discuss the general house rules in a family meeting (e.g. chores, no hitting, devices out in living room by a set time), which have immediate pre-discussed natural incentives and consequences (e.g. if device not out by set time, then lose device use for one day).
Strategies to reduce Worry and Anxiety around returning to school
Reduce uncertainty. Find out from school exactly what things will look like (arrival times?
class bubbles? break times? social distancing and cleaning rules?). Talk your child through
this, from getting up through to coming home. The more they know, the easier it will be.
Normalise anxious feelings. Ask how they are feeling about going back. What are their
concerns? Find out and answer these with clear, short, and simple information. Empathise
with them (“I understand that you are worried”) and normalise the situation (“I would
imagine that everyone will be a bit nervous about going back”).
Ask questions that lead them to reflect on past success in coping. “How nervous were you
when you first started school?” “How did you cope with that?” The key message is “this is
the same, but a little different”.
Practice/prepare your response for a difficult situation on the first day back. Remain calm,
provide brief empathy (“I can see you are feeling worried”), give a gentle push “You have a
plan, you will be fine,” and then use distraction and remind them of rewards (see below).
Remind them that there are a number of things they can do to control the situation and
protect themselves e.g. keep social distancing, wash hands, cough/sneeze into their elbow.
Distraction can remove anxiety’s traction. Have their first day set up with a plan that keeps
their minds busy. Perhaps a mix of things to do (e.g. get up, eat, uniform) with some fun
things once each step is done e.g. TV, or on the way to school distract with singing, or quiz.
Motivation. Children very often require a push/nudge when feeling anxious. Set up some
rewards for getting through the first day’s plan, e.g. special snacks for school, special desert
or movie night if stick to plan.
Other strategies to help manage Worry and Anxiety (long term):
Encourage self-coping skills. Get your child to do more things for themselves, e.g. making
toast/meals, walking to school, catching a bus. The path of least resistance of doing it for
them may be easier, but in the long run does not lead to resilience. Encourage activities that
increase their independence and confidence away from home e.g. sports, jobs, etc.
Problem solving. There are many excellent websites that illustrate this simple but very
helpful strategy that greatly aids kids to cope with new and unexpected situations. Learn it
together as a family and model it for them in everyday situations.
Model and practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, e.g. breathing (through nose),
grounding/calming techniques, and coping statements. Many good internet sites explain
these such as: https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-for-children-kids-activities/
Increase face to face socialisation. Get them off their devices and encourage face-to-face
contact with friends, playing sports, or doing things together as a family e.g. game nights.
Exercise, exercise, exercise! As mentioned before, exercise outdoors in the sun and green
spaces is one of the most well-researched antidotes for stress.
Pool fundraiser price list:
If you wish to order or purchase, please contact the school.
Food wrap 300m x 33cm = $23
600m x 33cm = $35
Roll foil 90m x 44cm = $22
150m x 30cm = $22
Baking paper 100m x 30cm = $30