Moving to Phase 3 in our response to Omicron

By Urs Cunningham | Posted: Thursday February 24, 2022

As many of you will be aware, we have now moved to Phase 3 in our response to Omicron across the whole of Aotearoa New Zealand. This article will explain what this means for Amesbury School and the wider community.

We are expecting that, as this outbreak increases, we will see more cases of Covid-19 pop up in our school community. Please don’t be alarmed by this; it is only natural that as cases in our wider community increase, they will appear at school. We have really good systems in place to respond to this and to keep any spread of the virus – should it appear – to a minimum.

You may have seen Dr Jin Russell in the media noting research from New South Wales about their recent Omicron outbreak showing that onward transmission within the school setting is very low. For every tamariki who is infected and attends school, only 3.7% of their close contacts at school subsequently tested positive. We have seen that in New Zealand too – public health teams on the ground have seen that even though cases pop up in schools, there has been very little onward spread through the school because of the protective measures we have in place.

This is why we will remain open at Red level unless it is simply not possible to do so. It is good for a child’s wellbeing and learning to be at school with their friends and school staff, and we have strong systems in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. We will keep all of our current preventive measures in place, including splitting Harakeke and Koru into smaller shared groups and keeping the groups separate; all staff members, and all ākonga in year 4-6 wearing masks indoors; keeping staff in different teams separate; and keeping up strong daily cleaning and hygiene routines.

With the shift to Phase 3, the key change is that only household contacts now need to isolate themselves if a member of their household tests positive for Covid. This means:

If you or a household member tests positive for Covid, you must isolate with all of your household members for 10 days. Start counting the days from the day your symptoms started, or the day you were tested, if you are not showing any symptoms.

- If you are a close contact of someone who has Covid, but not a household contact, you do not need to isolate. You need to monitor carefully for symptoms of Covid, and isolate and seek medical advice if you develop any symptoms.

- If you and your household is isolating due to someone testing positive for Covid-19, please contact the school.

- If your child tests positive for Covid, please contact the school as soon as possible so that we can let people know to monitor for symptoms.

Transmission of Covid-19 is still most likely to happen in your home – so please keep doing all of these good practices to keep your whānau safe:

- Get your three doses of vaccine. Research has shown that compared with being unvaccinated, three doses of the vaccine will mean you are 67% less likely to be infected with Omicron and 97% less likely to get Delta. If you can’t get Covid, you can’t pass it on.

- Wash your hands

- Get lots of fresh air

- Cover any coughs and sneezes

- Clean surfaces regularly

- Stay home and seek medical advice if you are not feeling well.

- Wear a mask when you are out and about, and stay distanced from people outside of your household

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We would like to reassure you that it is safe for your tamariki to be at school. If you are concerned about your tamariki being at school, please contact Urs ([email protected]) or your child's whānau teacher to talk more about this. 

Ngā mihi,

Urs Cunningham