How quickly the world can change. The evolving situation with COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds, and I want to assure our school community that we are taking all practical precautions and responding to the latest advice. The Ministry of Education is communicating daily with Principals and our decision making is guided by them. At St Mary’s we have implemented extra hygiene measures for students and ensured that our cleaning protocols are thorough and responsive to the situation. 

I’m sure that you can appreciate the challenges that schools face at the moment in prioritising the health and wellbeing of all students and staff. We need your support please. We have students/staff at school who are immunocompromised. This means that they have medical conditions which significantly weaken their immune systems, so if they get sick it can be very serious. Please, now more than ever before, keep your own children home if they are unwell, so that we can keep our school a healthy environment. Please make sure your contact details are up to date at the school office, and respond quickly to calls from the school, as students will need to go home if they are unwell.

There are many events being postponed or cancelled at the moment in the interest of public health. We appreciate your understanding around this, and we are all doing our best to help students deal with their disappointment. In classrooms, students are obviously talking about coronavirus, and we do our best to lessen their fear and give them accurate, age appropriate information. There is good information about how to talk to children about coronavirus on Education.govt - talking to children about coronavirus, and the Ministry of Health has this advice:

Taking care of children

There may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. As a trusted adult, you can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured. If you feel the child or young person is getting distressed through this conversation, reassure them and end it.

Children react to stress differently than adults – they may withdraw or behave in a more ‘babyish’ way, seem anxious or clingy, be preoccupied with illness in their play or drawing, have problems sleeping or nightmares, or may get physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches. Here are some tips for supporting children and young people:

  • Reassure them they are safe.
  • Encourage them to talk about how they feel.
  • Tell them they can ask questions and answer these in plain language appropriate to their age – be honest, but avoid details which may distress or cause anxiety.
  • Tell them that feeling upset or afraid is normal, that it’s good to talk about it and that they’ll feel better soon.
  • Be understanding – they may have problems sleeping, throw tantrums or wet the bed – be patient and reassuring if this happens. With support and care, it will pass.
  • Give your children extra love and attention.
  • Remember that children look to their parents to feel safe and to know how to respond – reassure them, share that you are upset too but that you know you will all be fine together.
  • Try to keep to normal routines – mealtimes, bedtimes etc. – allow them to get out and play, to go to the park etc.

While the pandemic is ongoing, St Mary’s will continue to give regular updates. The main communication channels will be emails to parents via HERO (so make sure we have your current email address), via facebook and links on our school app, and there is also a section on the frontpage of our website for school related COVID-19 links and updates. Please be aware that we will continue to use our facebook page as many parents find this easy to access, but we ask that you don’t use this social media platform to direct questions back to the school - please come and talk to us if you have concerns or questions. 

We will not be celebrating St Joseph's day Mass at St Mary Immaculate this Thursday at 9.30am. This is a precautionary measure in conjunction with the BOT and Parish. The classrooms will share some information around St Joseph to celebrate the occasion. Celebration Hui will be conducted in classrooms this week as well. No Monday Liturgy 23rd March as Whanau Vincent will be sharing their reflections through slides which classes will share. As things happen we will continue to update our community.