School principals concerned over partial re-opening

Concerns have been expressed by principals and teachers over the partial reopening plans for schools under Alert Level 3. It will be tricky trying to deal with possibly fluctuating numbers of pupils at school but also keeping work going for all the kids learning from home.

But Covid-19 lockdowns have disrupted many people in many occupations, making work harder for a lot of us. And making education harder. It’s a given that this year’s education will be tricky for everyone.

Under Level 3, which we may be dropping to next Thursday (a decision will be made on Monday), schools will be opening for children of essential workers and optionally other children to enable parents to go back to work, up until year 10 (the old Form 4).  This allows for care of children up to age 14, who can’t legally be left at home alone.

RNZ – Principals concerned over level 3 reopening: ‘It’s going to be a shambles’

Principals are warning the government’s plans for partially reopening schools at alert level 3 will be a shambles.

Things are a bit of a shambles now.

They warn that teachers will struggle to teach classes in-person and online, social distancing will be nearly impossible to maintain, and parents will send children to school simply because they are sick of having them at home.

Otorohanga College principal Traci Liddall said she could see potential problems with the government’s plans.

“It’s going to be a shambles. Who is allowed to come back? What is the purpose of them coming back? Are they just coming back because parents are sick of them? Are they coming back because they are the children of essential workers?” she said.

“I can’t see it running very smoothly at all.”

The president of the Principals Federation, Perry Rush, said principals needed a lot more detail about how partial reopening would work.

He said there would be challenges with maintaining social distancing at schools.

“That is always a really difficult challenge in any school and it will largely be impossible,” he said.

The president of the Auckland Secondary Principals Association, Richard Dykes, said teachers would not be able to provide an in-class lesson for students who were present in person and a remote lesson for those studying from home.

“If students do turn up, they’re going to be working online, maybe with some teacher oversight, but certainly it won’t be face-to-face teaching as we know it,” he said.

Dykes said he expected most students would stay home.

RNZ: Covid-19 level 3 school rules ‘most irresponsible’ – Auckland Grammar headmaster

An Auckland headmaster says the government’s decision to partially reopen schools is totally irresponsible and teachers are being asked to babysit, not educate.

… teachers and students will still have to keep their social distance. Auckland Grammar Headmaster Tim O’Connor said he had no idea how it would all work.

“It is, from my mindset, one of the most irresponsible decisions for New Zealand education in my time as headmaster of the school.”

Perhaps schools have a responsibility to help out how they can in a time of unprecedented disruption to out society.

O’Connor said that if it’s safe to partially reopen a school under alert level 3, the government should be targeting the students who are most in need in the secondary sector – the Year 12 and 13 students who are sitting NCEA, Cambridge, or International Baccalaureate.

Older students will be best able to mamange their own learning from home.

“The government’s not making a decision about education, it’s making a decision about how to provide child care for reopening the country.

Like everything else education has been massively disrupted by Covid-19.  Principals can’t expect a plan could have been made to carry on with education as usual this term.

It can’t be anything like back to normal. I don’t think teachers will be expected to provide full curriculum learning for all students at school and home. The aim is a partial resumption of studies and allow for a partial resumption of work for some parents. So that’ means a form of babysitting.

Learning from home and transitioning back to school will be a big challenge for schools, but they should be seeing what they can do as best they can in the circumstances.

However it is tricky for teachers concerned about catching the virus, some will not want to go back to schooling pupils in person, and that’s understandable. Resuming classes at school should be optional for them too.

Alert Level 3 restrictions announced

Alert level 4 restrictions are still in place until Thursday 23 April at least – whether the level may change then will be announced on Monday 20 April.

When we drop to Alert Level 3 (and level changes will be cautious) the new restrictions have been announced.


It is vital that everyone knows we are still under Alert Level 4, and all Alert Level 4 restrictions remain in place.

Under Alert Level Three we will still have significant restrictions on our day-to-day lives. The risk of COVID-19 will have diminished, but not gone away.

If we are successful in controlling COVID-19 under Alert Level 3 we will be able to move down to Alert Level 2, where there are far fewer restrictions.

Personal movement

People must stay within their immediate household bubble, but can expand this to reconnect with close family / whanau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people. It’s important to protect your bubble once it’s been extended. Keep your bubble exclusive and only include people where it will keep you and them safe and well. If anyone within your bubble feels unwell, they self-isolate from everyone else within your bubble.

Examples to help explain these measures

If a relative or loved one lives locally, and is currently alone you can extend your bubble to include them. If you are returning to work and need to establish child care or other care arrangements for those already in your bubble, a care provider can join your bubble.

What is a bubble?

A bubble is your household – the people you live with. Under Alert Level 3, you can slightly extend your bubble. For example, you can bring in a caregiver you might need, or children who might be in shared care. Or, if you are living alone, or a couple who wants the company of another one or two people. These people do not need to live in the same household, but must be local. Always keep your bubble exclusive, and keep it small.

Workers and businesses

Most, but not all businesses can start to open under Alert Level 3. They must take health measures to keep their workers safe.

  • Workers must work from home if they can
  • Workplaces must operate safely – keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards
  • Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up – customers cannot enter stores
  • Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4
  • Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople)
  • Other in home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) – keep two metre separation from those in the house
  • Most workers will not require PPE to stay safe at work. Incorrectly used PPE can create more risk. Good hygiene measures like hand washing with soap and water, physical distancing, sneeze and cough etiquette, and wiping down surfaces is the best defence against COVID-19.

More detailed guidance for sectors will be made over the coming days.

Examples to help explain these measures

If you run a takeaway business, you can reopen it if you have pre-ordered contactless pick up, or can do home delivery.

A real estate agent can open, but people should work from home if they can. The agent can enter peoples homes, but not have customers in the office. You cannot run an open home. Construction businesses can start work again but strict hygiene measures must be put in place – and office staff who can work from home should do so.

When will businesses that involve close personal contact be allowed to open?

Right now, the risk of transmission from people providing services that require close personal contact (e.g. hairdressers, manicurists, beauticians, domestic cleaners, personal trainers, gymnasiums) is too great. These businesses can resume under Alert Level 2, with appropriate health measures in place.

Recreation

The most important principals here are to stay close to home, stay two metres away from people not in your bubble, and don’t do activity that could get you hurt and require medical care or rescuing (putting essential workers at risk).

You can do activities that are local, which you can do safely, and which do not involve interacting with other people, or equipment touched by other people. You should go to your nearest beach or park, not your favourite one. Staying overnight at a bach or holiday home is not permitted.

(Jacinda Ardern said no motorised recreation like boats, but swimming and surfing is ok).

Education

Under Alert Level 3 it will be safe for Early Learning / Education Centres and schools to open for children up to and including year 10, with appropriate public health measures in place. All young people in years 11-13 will continue to learn at home.

Physical attendance at school is voluntary, but all children not at school should be learning by distance. Schools will be a safe place for children to go to learn if their parents need to return to work, or the children cannot learn at a distance. Children who are able to, should remain home and learn via distance.

Most tertiary education will be through distance learning. Tertiary education facilities may open for limited activities involving small stable groups (up to 10 people who do not change). Campus research that can’t be done off campus such as lab work, and practical hands on learning, such as trades courses, where the learning can happen in small groups with appropriate physical distancing. Courses where close contact is unavoidable will remain online only.

Travel and transport

Travel is still restricted, and is only allowed for permitted movement in your local area – e.g. for going to work or school, shopping, or getting exercise.

Public transport will still be available. You can use it to travel to work or school, but be aware there will be limited capacity. You should sit 2 metres away from other people on public transport.

Regional travel is allowed for permitted movement, with some exceptions – our Alert Level 3 table [PDF, 1.5 MB] has more detail.

Other travel should not be undertaken. The risk of transmitting the disease is too high. This is not a time to take a holiday, travel between regions to celebrate birthdays or travel from one side of a city to the other to go to a supermarket when there is a suitable one in your local area.

Gatherings

Gatherings prevent a very high risk of transmitting COVID-19, and acceptable gatherings are very limited. Up to 10 people can gather for:

  • Funerals and tangihanga
  • Wedding ceremonies (not receptions).

Examples to help explain these measures

For those holding a wedding ceremony, the limit means there can only be the couple, the celebrant, a couple of witnesses and family. Most people will still need to attend through video conferencing. Those who do attend must keep themselves and others safe. Keep a list of those who attend, stay at least 2 meters apart and wash hands regularly.


The above is edited. Full details: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/

https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/alert-level-3-restrictions-announced

Questions on “safe economic activity” at lowered Covid-19 alert levels

Questions were asked at today’s Epidemic Response Committee about what different alert levels will mean to businesses wanting to restart. There seems to be a focus on “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

From Stuff Live:

Simon Bridges probing the “levels” in relation to the economy. Treasury’s modeling shows the lower the level, the better the economy. He said businesses are telling him they want to go to level 2. “Level 3 is a bit of a no man’s land”.

Grant Robertson is saying the detail of the lockdown coming this week will give business some clear guidance of what’s permitted. He’s saying it will show us “what constitutes safe economic activity”.

“I don’t share your view around level 3,” Robertson says level 3 will allow us to increase economic activity.

He says he’s been working with the construction sector to work out what safe economic activity looks like.

Robertson is saying the enthusiasm for coming out of lockdown early can actually mean yo-yo-ing between levels, which isn’t good for economic activity either.

Paul Goldsmith asking about “what sort of pragmatism” will be brought to the health regulations that will determine how businesses work under levels 2 and 3.

Robertson said work is underway on those issues, so there would be real clarity.

Contact tracing will be important too. “Knowing who is in your workplace, knowing where they are and what they’re doing”. This will help us manage flare ups as they come.

Responding to Marama Davidson, “the best economic response is a strong public health response”.

Sounds like a patsy.

University of Otago epidemiologist, Professor David Skegg, said countries that had not succeeded in controlling this disease, their economies were not going to flourish.

“I’m not an economist, but I would be very surprised if we’re going to do worse economically because of the measures we’re taking in the medium term.”

He stressed that the country should get to level 2.

“We need some careful planning this week on what level 3 or level 3.5 would look like.

“It’s not just a health issue and it’s not just an economic issue,” Skegg said.

From RNZ Live:

Simon Bridges said level 3 was akin to no man’s land with the downsides of level 4.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said when deciding on moving to level 2 and 3, his focus was on “what constitutes safe economic activity?”

“Level 4 is doing exactly what we wanted it to do for New Zealand and New Zealanders. The last thing we want is to come out level 4 and create a situation where we have to yo-yo between levels.”

Meanwhile, Paul Goldsmith said businesses needed clarity on returning to work and how social distancing would look like in the working environment.

“There’s a shared desire among industry workers, government to get people back to work as soon as possible. Health and safety is a very important part of the workplace,” Robertson said.

“The best economic response is a strong public health response and that has to be underpinned by an investment in our health system.”

Stuff:

Michael Woodhouse asking whether the “principles approach” is sector based or risk based.

The question is really whether or not the businesses that open will be determined by the kind of business they are (for example cafes) or the kind of measures that are put in place by any business, so cafes that follow those guidelines could reopen, whereas the one’s that don’t implement the guidelines don’t reopen.

Robertson said it will be mainly the latter (so not sector-based) BUT you can’t completely detach sectors from the guidelines.

Bridges asking whether level 3 is therefore significantly more permissive than level 4.

No response given.

Robertson saying that in the case of the media, “the patient had pre-existing conditions”.

Media just about had comorbidity.

 

 

 

New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours

It has been confirmed that Alert Level Four takes effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.

More from the Beehive/Prime Minister:


  • New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict
  • New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours
  • Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare

Level 3, from tomorrow

  • Non-essential businesses must close
  • All events and gatherings must be cancelled
  • Schools will only open for children of essential workers. They will close completely when we move to Level 4
  • Workplaces must implement alternative working with everyone who can to work from home
  • No discretionary domestic air travel between regions
  • Public transport for people undertaking essential services and transport of freight only

 

New Zealand has moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict, for the next 48 hours before moving into Level 4 – Eliminate, as New Zealand escalates its response to stop the virus in its tracks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

“Due to the early and strong steps we’ve taken, New Zealand is fortunate not to be as hard-hit by the virus as other countries but the trajectory is clear. We are under attack like the rest of the world and must unite to stop the worst from happening here,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“If community transmission takes off in New Zealand the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and thousands of New Zealanders will die.

“Together we can stop that from happening and our plan is simple. We can stop the spread by staying home and reducing contact.

“Moving to Level 3, then 4, will place the most significant restrictions on our people in modern history but they are a necessary sacrifice to save lives.

“At Level 3, we are asking non-essential businesses to close. This includes bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries and other places where people gather together.

“Essential services will remain open, such as supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies, service stations, couriers and other important frontline service providers.

“Gatherings, indoors or out, and of any shape or size, must be cancelled. This means weddings, birthday celebrations and other gatherings.

“Workplaces should have everyone working from home. Essential services will stay open at every level, but must put in place alternative ways of working including physical distancing of staff of two metres.

“Schools will be closed from tomorrow, except to children of essential workers who still need to go to work each day including doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday.

“The school term break will be brought forward. For the remainder of this week and through the term break schools will establish ways to deliver teaching online and remotely as quickly as they can.

“Public transport and regional air travel is restricted to those involved in essential services and freight, with domestic air travel permitted in some cases for people to leave the country and to get home to self-isolate. Private travel is allowed.

“I say to all New Zealanders: The Government will do all it can to protect you. Now I’m asking you to do everything you can to protect all of us. Kiwis – go home.

“Today, get your neighbour’s phone number, set up a community group chat, get your gear to work from home, cancel social gatherings of any size or shape, prepare to walk around the block while keeping a two-metre distance between you.

“If in doubt, don’t go out.

“These measures will be in place for four weeks at this point.

“New Zealand is fighting an unprecedented global pandemic and it will take a collective effort of every single New Zealander doing the right thing to give us our best shot at curtailing community outbreak,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Further details available at www.covid19.govt.nz


It has been confirmed that Alert Level Four takes effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.