Schools decide not to mix for activities


North Otago primary schools will not be mixing during school hours, to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Schools in the region have reported positive cases in their communities, so principals are doing what they can to keep their pupils safe.

At a recent meeting, held virtually, North Otago principals agreed not to participate in activities with other schools during school time while in the Red traffic light setting.

In a letter to the community, North Otago Primary Principals’ Association president Kate Mansfield said: ‘‘We had a very robust discussion about this and have decided that all the primary schools in the Waitaki area would not be participating in sports events, festivals and tournaments where we are mixing with other schools’’.

Primary schools would not visit other schools or participate in any activities during school hours with pupils from other schools.

Individual sports coaches could still visit schools, as they were able to follow the Covid-19 procedures and would be outside using social distancing.

The situation would be addressed again when the region moved to the Orange setting.

Mrs Mansfield, who is Glenavy School principal, told the Oamaru Mail the virus could quickly spread between schools if pupils interacted.

‘‘At the moment we’ve got Covid occurring in quite a few schools in North Otago and we’re just trying to limit the spread of it and keep it contained as much as we can,’’ she said.

Schools would try to provide opportunities to pupils inhouse as much as they could, so the children did not miss out.

Mrs Mansfield could not comment on how many North Otago schools had positive cases in their community, but said schools received guidelines and support from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.

‘‘We’re encouraging parents to continue to bring their children to school and only isolate if they’ve got a case in their family.’’

If someone tested positive, parents should contact the school, which would have procedures in place, she said.

‘‘We would advise our school community that we’ve now got Covid cases in our school and this is what we’ve got in place and the best place for your child is still at school.’’

Most schools were already segregated and would increase their safety measures.

Pupils in year 4 and above were required to wear masks in the classroom and, while it was tough, teachers tried to take an educational approach by explaining to pupils masks would keep themselves and others safe.

‘‘We’re really appreciative of the community and parents who are supporting the schools.

‘‘As educators, we’re just trying to do the best for the children, keep them safe.’’