By Urs Cunningham | Posted: Thursday February 10, 2022
The Delta and Omicron variants of Covid-19 are highly transmissible, so it is important that we use a range of tools and measures to protect ourselves and others from infection. Wearing masks is an important tool that can minimise the direct spread of the virus through particles in the air.
At Amesbury School all ākonga and kaiako (teachers) in Pōhutukawa Hub wear masks whenever they are indoors. We are very impressed with the way ākonga and kaiako have adjusted to this and are diligently wearing masks. In Harakeke Hub, all kaiako wear masks and ākonga (students) are strongly encouraged to wear them. It is a mandate from the government that year 4 ākonga wear masks, although in mixed year group settings such as ours, a pragmatic approach can be taken. We have noticed that the take up of mask wearing in Harakeke is quite mixed, with many year 4s wearing masks most of the time, and a small number of year 3s and 2s wearing them at times.
It may be useful for parents and whānau to know that in the case of a student (or staff member) contracting Covid, the single biggest factor in determining whether a person at school is a close contact or casual contact is whether the case and the people around them were wearing masks. In the event of a confirmed case of Covid-19, school will determine which children around them are close contacts or casual contacts.
We would strongly recommend that in Harakeke Hub, as many ākonga as possible wear a mask, regardless of year level. This will reduce the likelihood of a high number of students being identified as close contacts and needing to isolate for ten days. It is still possible that even when wearing masks, students and staff may still be identified as close contacts, but the likelihood is greatly reduced.
Please also note that for trips and events outside of school, most places are requiring the mask mandate for year 4 students, even if they do not always wear one at school. For our upcoming Living History trip to Te Papa and Wellington Museum, both places require all Year 4-6 students to wear a mask.
For staff, all kaiako (teachers) in Pōhutukawa and Harakeke wear masks indoors. Some of you may have noticed that kaiako in Koru Hub are now also wearing masks indoors. While this is not mandated, we noticed in our first week of school that our staff in each team work very closely together, and the lack of mask wearing from staff in Koru learning spaces greatly increased the chance of many or all kaiako in Koru needing to isolate if there was one case of Covid amongst the team. Therefore they are looking to protect each other and all ākonga by wearing masks throughout the day indoors. If a situation occurs, particularly with younger students, where it would help if the kaiako removed their mask temporarily, they will do so.
We would also like to say a big thank you to our parents and whānau for helping to keep us all safe at school. Firstly, many of you are choosing to stay beyond the school boundary if you do not need to come onsite. Secondly, for those who do come into school, there is a high level of compliance about scanning and masking, which we all appreciate. Thank you all for keeping our tamariki and community safe during this urutā - outbreak.
The Amesbury team