Message from the Headmaster, Wednesday 23 February 2022

Tēnā koutou katoa e te whānau,

It has been a very busy time since my last communication, as we work to implement the regulations and requirements of Stage 2 of the Red Alert phase, and respond to the ever changing landscape.

Since I last wrote, we have continued to learn of more COVID positive students in our community, and yesterday we received notification of our first teacher testing positive. At the current time, we have had 21 cases in the school, and we have had a large group of primarily Senior students isolating as close contacts of these cases. 

The high level of compliance of all of our students, and their willingness to work with us, as staff, to maintain a world which remains as safe as possible, has minimised any spread within the school. 

To those students who have had to isolate, as close contacts, I offer our genuine thanks. Although students have been disappointed and frustrated when they have learnt of their situation, they have all, without exception, accepted the need graciously and with good will. It has made our task so much easier.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education announced a further relaxation of the definition of close contacts in school settings. Until yesterday, students who had spent more than two hours in class with a positive case were classed as close contacts. This classification has now been removed. As we can confirm that masks are being worn well and consistently, the risk is indeed very low.

With the application of these new regulations being backdated to Monday 21st February, we will be contacting the few students who were identified as classroom close contacts to inform them that they are welcome to return to school.

Students who share interval and lunch breaks with a positive case, however, are still defined as close contacts. The regulations around boarding hostels also remain the same. 

For these students, there is a 7-day isolation, and we ask that they do not return to school until they have a negative test result (RATs are acceptable), and they remain asymptomatic.

I remind you that we now have a designated email address for any COVID related information, questions or concerns. Please use this email CovidResponse@hbhs.school.nz as your contact point, rather than phoning the school if you are communicating about COVID in any way, as it streamlines our processes, which is appreciated at this hugely busy time.

In terms of the suggested amendments to the mandate for school sport and kapa haka, we were also informed, yesterday, that a decision has been made in principle, and will be communicated to us soon.  

The quote in our school diary for this week is appropriate for us all in these times. Venus Williams stated that

I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals, and I ignore the rest”

While we can’t ignore the rest, we must still focus on our individual and our shared goals - to make 2022 a happy, fulfilling and successful year for the wonderful young men in our care. In the midst of the rapidly changing regulations, and the limitations of our current situation, we must continue to focus on Steve Jobs’ advice that we must enjoy and make the most of each day, as we will never get it back!

My very best wishes to all; please do not hesitate to contact me, or the school, if there is anything that we can do to help your son through the weeks ahead. We appreciate your continuing support.

Susan Hassall