Thursday, July 23, 2009

July newsletter

The non-seasonal Influenza A (H1N1) virus continues to attract media attention world wide. We had one confirmed mild case of the virus last term and our student has now returned to school. It is timely to remind you of some details of our response to the threat of Influenza A. The school's health and safety committee has amended our Pandemic Plan that was initiated for the bird flu threat. I am the Pandemic Manager for the school. The advice we have received states that 'school closure is not required for a suspected or confirmed case' of the virus. Our absentee rate is averaging at 20% so far. If it exceeds 30% we will instruct the Ministry of Education. It has not reached this level yet.

My plea to students and community is keep following the advice from the ministry of health and ministry of education regarding sanitary practices - wash hands carefully, use tissues for coughs and sneezes (please see advice elsewhere in the newsletter). If students are sick they should stay home until well enough for learning. Some students are coming to school with heavy colds/coughs and this compromises the health of others. The relevant website for you to consult is as it has comprehensive details.

The first week of this term saw the 40th anniversary of the moon landings on the 20th of July. This was a momentous occasion 40 years ago in 1969. I remember listening to the radio broadcast as Neil Armstrong moved down the steps and misquoted the script NASA had given him - "It's one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind". I prefer the way Neil said it. It certainly still gets the point across, even if it doesn't make sense.

I referred to this event in my first assembly back from the study break. J F Kennedy said in 1961 that the goal was to reach the moon before the end of 1969, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills". The power of a goal that sparks the imagination is huge, is it not. I would love my students to set big goals for themselves and then set the best of their energies and skills along that pathway.

Communication methods have come a long way since those events in 1969. When Michael Jackson died recently we had every news channel reporting live 24 hours a day, for days and days. In 1969 New Zealand we had to wait months to see television images of the moon landing. Are we better off? Has mankind made a giant leap? That is a moot point, but set those goals, okay?!

We continue this term with our extensive building programme - T block is making excellent progress and should be ready for staff and students to move back into in term 4 and work has begun on the new Teen Parent Unit/Early Childhood Education Centre on the south side of the Stadium.

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