I worked today - first day in a few weeks so it was a bit hard to get myself started in the morning. Still, I managed to get to school on time which is always a bonus ;) Morning staff-brief is usually a 10 minute affair in the staff room with a few notices and often, a lot of humour. Not today. In order to accommodate the 2m social distancing rule the meeting took place in the hall. Humour - zilch. Instead a list of updates on the school position and planned actions to protect staff and students from infection. This included:
20-plus staff away - affected by guidelines to stay at home if over 70 or immune-compromised.
8 out of 15 school buses weren't running as bus drivers were staying at home so we were to expect significant absences.
Consideration had been given to rostering year groups home in order to be able to manage the staffing.
Social distancing to be implemented in all classes.
No shared equipment to be used.
.......the list went on.
It was s-u-c-h an odd day but to their credit, the kids were magnificent. I know there are the odd goons who think it's all a bit of a laugh having to keep distance, clean up, sanitise etc but on the whole, I thought the students showed immense amounts of maturity and a whole lot more appreciation and understanding of the potential severity of the situation than we might give them credit for.
Nationally, the tally for Coronovirus infections rose drastically overnight to 102, a leap of 36 new cases. This heralded a lunchtime statement from the PM that left me and others feeling like we were very much at war. We gathered around a device and listened in silence as Jacinda Adern told us the alert level had been raised to Level 3 and in 48 hours, we would be moved to alert Level 4, the top level. What this means in real terms is that schools are closing effective immediately; pubs, clubs, libraries, pools, cinemas, gyms, museums, food courts, amusement parks etc must also close now and in 48 hours, all businesses must close except for 'essential services' and everyone must self isolate. As we listened to Jacinda the atmosphere changed.........
For the last period I had a class of Year 9's (12-13 year olds), many of whom had listened to the PM's announcement over lunch. They were keen to talk about it but I wasn't keen for a whole hour of talk for them so we agreed to work first then we'd talk second. They did so well, but by the time the end of the work phase rolled around there was already a lot of 'other' movement around school.......the word was out.......school was out.
The journey home was crazy.....roads were almost grid-locked, my usual 5 minute drive took nearly 20 minutes and to top it all off, I spotted a long queue of shoppers outside a supermarket clearly not taking the blindest bit of notice of the national requests to 'shop normally'.......we have plenty for everyone but not when everyone shops at the same time.
So now, everybody in New Zealand is facing 28 days of self-isolation including an almost total lock down of non-essential services. Worrying times ahead...........let's hope it's enough to contain the virus and slow the spread. Time will tell. We're well and truly in the tunnel now with no real idea how long it is but one thing is for sure - there WILL be light shining brightly from the other end at some point.
Kia kaha New Zealand.......stay safe, look after yourselves - we can beat this thing working together.