Covid-19 Updates

Friday 27 March

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Ahead of the start of the official Term 1 school holidays, we wanted to share some additional information with you about our school counselling services and some tips for supporting your children in an online environment.

From College Counsellor Jackie Calder:

As the School Counsellor, I am available throughout the entire period that school is closed. Jo Smith, the School Nurse, is available too. Her mobile is 027 2169674.

We understand this is a really challenging time for us all, and we are here to help should you need it.

I will be available for Counselling via video call through Microsoft Teams. This allows us both to see each other.

If you email me at calderj@scotscollege.school.nz I can book in a confidential online appointment. You can also txt me on my School mobile which is 027 2254180.

If possible, before your counselling session, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.

As your session comes to an end, we will do some grounding and calming work so you are ready to go back to your family.

I have also included some helpful links for young people and families during this time (see below)

Take Care,
Kind Regards
Jackie Calder

Youthline: Free call 0800 376 633, Free txt 234
talk@youthline.co.nz
1737
Free call or txt any time for support from a trained Counsellor.

Kidsline
0800 KIDSLINE (0800 54 37 54)

Parent Helpline
0800 568 856
www.parenthelp.org.nz
www.mentalhealth.org.nz

Looking after our mental health and wellbeing during this time “Top tips to get through this time”. https://www.heysigmund.com  and www.MichelleMitchell.org. Both have great articles on supporting kids and teens through this time.

Further information to support wellbeing

  • Education.govt.nz has shared some information focused on wellbeing and supporting a child’s learning at home for parents, caregivers and whānau.
  • The Ministry of Health’s website includes top ways to look after your mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown.
  • I AM HOPE is the youth and community focused support group run by The Key to Life Charitable Trust, started by Mike King.
  • Nathan Wallis has some helpful videos on his Facebook page for parents and whanau
  • Mental Health Foundation’s website provides tips on looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 from the Mental Health foundation

Remember that your child’s House Dean is also an important contact if you are seeking advice or guidance at this time. Our pastoral network at Scots will continue to function. Deans are in regular contact with tutors and with members of the Senior Leadership Team.

Digital Citizenship and Safety

It’s inevitable that our students will be spending even more time online and not just for their learning. The online world offers ready opportunities to maintain social networks and connectedness. However, there are also challenges and dangers. Students need to remember to be good citizens in the online realm. Parents are encouraged to monitor online activity and offer support and guidance around sites visited and apps used.

Sheree Bennett has identified a number of useful resources to support students, parents and caregivers navigate their way safely through the online world.

Adam Frost from our e-learning team has spent some time reviewing these resources to assist in prioritising for the best option for you and your family. His reviews are available on the wellbeing page of our Distance Learning Plan http://www.scotscollege.school.nz/distance-learning-package/your-wellbeing/#digitalcitizenship

It’s also important to organise time offline. Pete Connell is posting some fun activities via You Tube to bring families together and help us all stay active. Here’s the link to Friday’s challenge. https://youtu.be/EnVgdcnVIu0

The Headspace App also has some free guidance on sleep, rest and mindful practices. https://www.headspace.com/

There is a great deal of information available. At the moment, it might feel like there’s too much information coming at us. For our students, adjusting to learning at home presents new challenges and could seem overwhelming at this time. The upcoming official school holidays will provide us all with opportunities to take stock and prepare for the new term and new ways of learning. We hope, in the meantime, that these resources prove useful in the coming weeks, as we all adjust to a new and different reality.

Kia Kaha,
Jason Laverock   Amanda Gibbs   Will Struthers
Deputy Principals Senior and Middle School

Tuesday 24 March

Dear Parents and Guardians

We first and foremost wanted to say that we are thinking of all within our community at this extremely difficult time. We wish you and your loved ones all the best as we embark on the Nation-wide shut down from tomorrow night.

We have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we can deliver an effective Distance Learning Plan for all our students across the College.

Today we are sending a communication that contains information relating to many key aspects and details of what to expect over the next few days.

Key dates

Tuesday 23 March

  • As per the Government’s recommendation this will be a transition day as we move to our Distance Learning Plan (DLP).
  • There are no classes in session (either at school or via our online learning systems).
  • All staff at school
  • School open for children of essential workers only (https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-system/)

Wednesday 24 March to Friday 26 March

  • Prep School – families will receive an email from their class teacher setting out their learning plan for the remainder of this week
  • Middle and Senior School – all teachers will have work set for this period of time. It will be clearly displayed on each class One Note and accessible from 8:45am Wednesday
  • Wednesday only: School open for children of essential workers only (https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-system/)

School Holidays

The government has brought forward the school holidays. They now start on Monday 30 March and go through to Tuesday 14 April. Term 2 begins Wednesday 15 April which will be week B of our school timetable.

Distance Learning Plan

Our Distance Learning Plan will take effect from the start of Term 2, Wednesday 15 April.

To assist students and parents with the continuity of learning while the College is closed we have developed a comprehensive Distance Learning Plan. This plan clearly sets out the expectations of students, staff and parents. It is essential we all work together to ensure this learning is as effective as possible.

We have attached a copy of this plan for your reference and you can access it via our webpage linked here. It is essential you take the time to go through this plan with your sons and daughters prior to the start of Term 2 on Wednesday 15 April.

We have also developed a series of resources to assist parents and students with Distance Learning, ICT tutorials and additional information. These resources can be accessed through the front page of the College website and via the above link. Please feel free to share these resources with friends and family.

Access to Devices and Internet

For Distance Learning to be successful it requires all students to have access to reliable devices and internet. If you are in a situation where this is not the case, or are aware of any other students in this situation then please let your House Dean and Principal know as soon as possible. If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to help any students in this situation we would love to hear from you, contact your school Principal.

Collecting Resources and Belongings

If your son or daughter has resources at school that they would like to collect the following arrangements have been made.

Prep School – Arrangements have been made for today. Email Mandy Patrick patrickm@scotscollege.school.nz if you still require anything.

Middle and Senior Schools – Collections can be made up until 5pm today and between 8.30 – 10.30am tomorrow (please report to the main reception). Locker bays will be open, make sure that you have keys and/or combinations for locks. Please note, anything not collected by 10:30am tomorrow will not be accessible throughout the duration of the College lock down.

School Reports

The end of Term 1 reports have been postponed. We will communicate when these will go out in the future. Prep School Parent/Teacher conferences are postponed.

Well-being of Students and Families

It’s never been more challenging for parents to raise happy, healthy and resilient children.

Like never before, parents need to be informed with clear, fact-based information on the many challenges faced by today’s young people.  

SchoolTV is a resource that is now available to our community. Each edition will address a major topic with expert interviews, fact sheets, parent quiz, recommended apps, books and much more. SchoolTV aggregates information from many great resources such as BeyondBlue and ReachOut, amongst others. SchoolTV also produces ‘Special Reports’ which address key issues at particular times. It has recently published information about the Coronavirus and Preparing for Home Schooling. SchoolTV provides a single stream of independent factual information that saves parents time and confusion of searching online across multiple sites for information.

You can access SchoolTV here https://scotscollege.nz.schooltv.me/category-latest-newsletter

There are also additional well-being resources provided as part of the Distance Learning Plan. 

Please keep safe, look after one another, be kind and we look forward to seeing you all once the College re-opens 

Kind regards,
Graeme Yule      Christian Zachariassen                   Matt Allen                                           Mandy Patrick
Headmaster       Principal, Senior School                 Principal, Middle School                Principal, Prep School

Monday 23 March 3.30pm

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

As you will have seen in the news today the country is moving to a Level 4 in 48 hours with schools closing tomorrow. We do however stay open to children of ‘essential services’ such as doctors, ambulance drivers and police, and all staff.

The Government has indicated that the holidays will begin next week. Staff will provide work for your sons and daughters via their email, Seesaw and One Notes.

Our Distance Learning Plan will begin after the Holidays and later this week you will receive an outline of how this will work.

If your son or daughter is one of the students who will be attending school tomorrow as the child of an essential worker they are to report to Middle and Senior: the McKinnon Block and Prep: the Prep Reception, at 8.45am. Students are required to bring their device, drink bottle and packed food.

Supervision will be supplied with Senior staff. Please note that we are unsure of the availability of public transport and school buses at this stage so please do not rely on these in your planning.

The school will be closed for all students from Wednesday 25 March. The site will be in full lockdown from Thursday 26 March. We will update you as further details come to hand. For any students who need to pick up any material from the College it must be done on Tuesday or Wednesday.

For information regarding Boarding or International students please refer to separate updates that will be sent out or contact Director of Boarding Gary Henley-Smith or Director of International Services Guy Pascoe.

Kind regards,
Graeme Yule     Christian Zachariassen              Matt Allen                                     Mandy Patrick
Headmaster      Principal, Senior School            Principal, Middle School              Principal, Prep School

Monday 23 March 12pm

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

I am writing to update you on the most recent developments since yesterday’s communication.

We have been in regular contact with the family and the Ministry of Health. I can now inform you that the Ministry of Health have confirmed with us that the Year 8 student does not have COVID-19. He will however continue to self-isolate for the rest of this week and next week to complete 14 days of self-isolation. Following the Ministry of Health guidelines we can reconfirm that all other Year 8 students and Staff involved in the camp can return to school from Tuesday 24th March.

Supporting one another in times like this is paramount. I would like to publicly thank the family concerned for the proactive steps taken to self-isolate and inform the College which has allowed us to stay ahead of any potential risk to others.

Below is the information provided by the Ministry:

  • Schools that have a student or staff member that have no symptoms, but have been in close contact (such as within their household) with a confirmed case, and there is no known community transmission, are considered risk level 1 out of 5. This is the case for your school. No other action is required at this stage.
  • Health authorities have confirmed that:
    • Contacts of close contacts do not have to take any action such as isolating themselves.
    • For close contacts, by self-isolating for a 14 day period, if they do go on to show symptoms of COVID-19, they won’t have created risk for others around them.

 As there were no Year 8 classes today students did not miss out on any work. We suggest that students complete any outstanding homework, continue with their reading and reading logs and ensure their One Notes are up to date. Some examples below:

  • Reading
  • Spelling words (10-20), these can be created from the reading they have done etc.
  • Reading Logs (this is part of their English)
  • Online Maths
  • Language Acquisition
    Language specific spelling words
  • Students can also look through their different subjects One Notes and complete any work they have yet to etc.

We realise that this has been an anxious time for you all but we would like to thank you for your support. We have followed Ministry guidelines throughout this event and are obviously pleased with this outcome.

While our school remains open our Distance Learning Plan does not come into effect and any students who are away should access their classwork by One Note and contact with their House Dean and subject teacher. Please note that while staff may be able to provide some work, this will be limited by the fact that they will be teaching their normal classes. In the interim if your child is not at school and you have specific questions regarding work please contact their House Dean or classroom teacher in the first instance.

Kind regards,
Graeme Yule     Christian Zachariassen              Matt Allen                                     Mandy Patrick
Headmaster      Principal, Senior School            Principal, Middle School              Principal, Prep School

Sunday 22 March, 4.50pm

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

To reiterate our earlier communication the College remains open tomorrow for all siblings and all other Year Levels as per the advice received from the Ministry. We have been in communication with the Ministry of Education today and please find below their response for your information:

  • Schools that have a student or staff member that have no symptoms, but have been in close contact (such as within their household) with a confirmed case, and there is no known community transmission, are considered risk level 1 out of 5. This is the case for your school. No other action is required at this stage.
  • Health authorities have confirmed that:
    • Contacts of close contacts do not have to take any action such as isolating themselves.
    • For close contacts, by self-isolating for a 14 day period, if they do go on to show symptoms of COVID-19, they won’t have created risk for others around them.
  • Health are not advising the school to close for a few days as has happened at Logan Park High School in Dunedin. This is only necessary when there is an actual case (a person confirmed with COVID-19) in an educational facility. There is no confirmed case at your school.
  • Health authorities advise you to be reassured and consider there to be minimal risk to students, staff or others at the centre.

This week we will be sharing our Distance Learning Plans which will allow the continuation of services should the situation change or our site be closed. While our school remains open our Distance Learning Plan does not come into effect and any students who are away should access their classwork by One Note and contact with their House Dean and subject teacher. Please note that while staff may be able to provide some work, this will be limited by the fact that they will be teaching their normal classes. In the interim if your child is not at school and you have specific questions regarding work please contact their House Dean or classroom teacher in the first instance.

If you or your child are unwell or displaying any cold or flu like symptoms, a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath please do not send your child to school, but rather follow the advice from the Ministry of Health regarding self-isolation.

We will continue to keep in touch and update you with information in regards to this situation and all developments with regards to COVID-19 via email, on our website and the College App.

Kind regards,
Graeme Yule
Headmaster

Sunday 22 March 12.45pm

Dear Community

I am writing to update you on the latest developments since Friday afternoon’s communication. We have been in regular contact with the family who are well and the father is recovering well.

The latest information from the Ministry of Health is that if there is no change by tonight then the student will be clear and we will confirm this tomorrow and all students and staff will be back at school on Tuesday.

The College remains open tomorrow for all siblings and all other Year Levels as per the advice received from the Ministry. We will send out a further communication to you from them later today.

I have been made aware of an email circulated by other Wellington independent schools that is factually incorrect. These schools have not been formally in contact with us, nor the Ministry to get the best advice. To be clear the Year 8 students have not been required to self-isolate. We did ask them to stay home as a precautionary measure only.

I am aware at this time that families are anxious but please be assured that we are taking the correct steps and being conservative in our approach and managing this situation well.

We will continue to keep in touch and update you with factual information in regards to this situation and all developments with regards to COVID-19 via email, on our website and the College App.

Yours sincerely
Graeme Yule,
Headmaster

Friday 20 March

Dear Parents and Caregivers

I am writing to inform you that the parent of a Year 8 student has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The parent had travelled overseas, returned on Saturday the 14th of March and self-isolated upon his return. After feeling unwell he contacted the Ministry of Health and was tested and confirmed as having COVID-19 today. We were informed early this afternoon.

There is a small possibility that the Year 8 son may have been infected and he will now have to be tested. This year group were together at a camp venue all week and have not had any contact with any other students.

We have not yet had any communication from either the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Education requiring our staff and students to be self-isolated other than the son of the parent who has been confirmed as infected but have taken the steps of requiring all Year 8 students to remain at home for Monday and Tuesday while the student is tested. All staff on the camp will also follow this protocol.

I would like to stress at this stage that the risks of infection are low and this is simply a precautionary approach in line with the Ministry protocols that we have been given. The DHB have advised us that there is no added risk to any other students at Scots College.

There is no impact on any other areas of College operation and we will open as usual on Monday for all other Year Levels.

Yours sincerely
Graeme Yule,
Headmaster

Boarding Thursday 19 March

Dear Parents & Caregivers

At this stage, we are not expecting widespread school closures. However, there may be temporary targeted closures where a child at a school or area has a confirmed case. Consequently, any decisions about school closures will be made on a case by case basis.

Despite this, Scots College is prepared to move to a Distance Learning Plan should the need eventuate. The Headmaster sent a communication out about this last night or early this morning which you should have received in a separate email. In the case of school closure the intention would still be to keep the boarding house operational. Domestic students will be able to return home. International students living with a homestay family would continue to be hosted by the family through this time or maybe in boarding. 

It is certainly a challenging time but you can be fully assured that we take our duty of care extremely seriously and continue to follow the latest advice from both the NZ Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Health is the government agency that is leading the COVID-19 response in New Zealand. You can find the latest information on their website here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Tonight, I will be speaking to the Year 13 students, and some year 11 and & 12 students

  1. Distance Learning Plan
  2. Social distancing – Rearranged the dining hall and increased the length of time of meal- times to help provide
  3. Cancellation of Gibb House Chapel Service
  4. Summer sport cancellation
  5. Well-being
  6. Possibility of school closure
  7. Isolation Unit

This week all of our students are on EOTC activities – some locally based, and others offsite at camps experiencing a wide range of outdoor and leadership opportunities. Supervising teachers are reporting in each day and it sounds like everything is going well. We are looking forward to having some photos that we can share with you all next week.

As always, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact myself.

With kind regards
Gary Henley-Smith
Director of Boarding

Wednesday 18 March

Dear Parents & Caregivers,

We are in the midst of an unprecedented event as the Government implements its plan to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. The purpose of this communication is to update our parent community on the actions that we are taking. While at present schools remain open this could change at any moment due to an outbreak at the College or a Government edict.

With students Years 7 to 13 participating in their EOTC week teachers in charge of each group have remained in regular, daily contact with the College and are adapting plans if and when needed to ensure the ongoing safety of students.

If your child is unwell or displaying any cold or flu like symptoms, a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath please do not send them to school.

Over the past few days we have been building a plan that focuses both on what changes we need to make as a school community to ensure the safety of students and staff and a Distance Learning Plan should our site be compromised. The continuity of service delivery is critical.

Distance Learning Plan
We are currently updating our Distance Learning Plan (DLP) that will be released to our community next week. This plan outlines the expectations and responsibilities of Staff, Students and Parents. Through this Distance Learning Plan students will be able to continue learning in an online environment with regular contact and access to their teachers and class.

Over the next week Staff and Students will be undertaking further training to ensure all have access to and the skills needed to utilise the online platforms required.

As you may have seen in the media some schools are holding ‘trial’ days asking students and staff to stay home on an allocated day to test their distance learning platforms. We are aware of the difficulties this may cause for many working parents and instead your child may be sent homework to complete that will allow us to assess any potential issues.

This week the Prep School have worked together to ensure all families have access to Seesaw. Teachers and students have been using the platform in class to see all students are comfortable in their use of the platform. Within the Middle and Senior School we will be using Office 365 (One Note and Teams).

Given the MOH recommendations on social gatherings we will make the following changes, which we are reviewing on a day to day basis.

Assemblies, Chapels and Meetings

  • Middle and Senior Assemblies and Chapel services will be run in Year Levels by rotation and other Year Levels will be with their tutor group during this time.
  • Prep Assemblies and Chapel services will continue with appropriate social distancing.
  • House meetings for the Senior and Middle School will run in tutor groups using video and messaging platforms to connect when required.

Events
The status of the events listed below have changed in accordance with the MOH recommendations. Please note we will continue to communicate with you to keep you, our community up to date.

Term 1
Week 8

  • Preps Got Talent – postponed
  • Lindisfarne exchange – cancelled
  • Gibb House Chapel – cancelled
  • Rugby 7s – cancelled

Week 9

  • Cultural Festival week – postponed
  • Wellesley exchange – cancelled
  • Scots Got Talent – postponed
  • Adams family rehearsals will occur in a modified format
  • Maadi Cup – cancelled
  • Open Day – cancelled

Week 10

  • Greytown Info evening – cancelled
  • Cultural Fair – postponed
  • Prep Parent Teacher interviews – cancelled
  • StudyCare trip – cancelled
  • Cricket Club Fundraiser – postponed
  • NISS Athletics – cancelled
  • Easter Service – cancelled
  • Middle School Principals Award Assembly – postponed

Week 11

  • Prep Awards Assembly – postponed
  • Queenstown Info evening – cancelled
  • Jazz Festival – cancelled
  • House Haka – postponed

Holidays

  • Hurricanes Camp – cancelled
  • Presbyterian Rugby Quad – cancelled

Events Term 2
           ANZAC Service – cancelled

We are currently assessing all events up to Queens Birthday weekend and will outline this in a future communication.

Student/Family travel
The College has cancelled or postponed all College overseas travel for exchanges, staff professional development and tours. In line with the Ministry of Health self-isolation requirements should any families undertake or return from international travel we ask that they please adhere to the government imposed guidelines and inform us of their return date.

Co-curricular
A number of national sporting organisations are issuing directives with regards to their various competitions and we are awaiting an update from College Sport Wellington on local events. We are fortunate that this is occurring at the end of the summer season but it is important that we ensure the preliminary organisation for winter codes and activities goes ahead.

Boarding and International
It is our intention to keep the boarding house operational. Plans are in place should the College be forced to close to cater for any students who are unable to return home. Boarding families will receive further updates from Director of Boarding Gary Henley-Smith. International families will receive updates from Director of International Services Guy Pascoe.

With the situation changing rapidly we will endeavor to keep you updated with any changes affecting the College and your children.

Unusual and uncertain times such as these can cause some anxiety and stress for some. We encourage everyone to look after one another and your whanau. If you need to talk to someone about your child’s wellbeing please contact College counsellor Jackie Calder calderj@scotscollege.school.nz or your child’s House Dean in the first instance.


Kind regards,

Graeme Yule
Headmaster

Christian Zachariassen
Principal, Senior School

Matt Allen
Principal, Middle School

Mandy Patrick
Principal, Prep School

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