Welcome to 2022

Friday, 4 February 2022


Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to 2022 everyone. We are all looking forward to sharing the year with your children. Term 1 as always is going to be a very busy term with swimming, athletics and camps for some classes.

This term, like many other terms over the past two years will be running in conjunction with guidelines from the Ministry of Health. There have been some changes in the guidelines from previous years - mainly around the wearing of masks. I have outlined below some of the main guidelines that affect parents and caregivers.

I am looking forward to working with you all this year and catching up with you all from time to time.


There have been some people talking within the community thinking that schools are vaccinating their children without parental consent.

CAN I BE QUITE CLEAR - THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AND NOR WILL IT EVER HAPPEN. Vaccinations are a parental and whanau choice and has nothing to do with the school.

Board of Trustees

Another rumour I would like to clear from the start. There has been talk over the past few months around myself and the board being weak and needing to stand up for the school around the COVID-19 protocols. For those that know how Boards of Trustees work will understand this - but boards, along with principals and all other government staff have to follow the protocols and policy set by the government of the day. If we don't do this boards get disbanded (and statutory managers come in place) and principals would lose their jobs.

What those who are saying this don't realise, is that as the President of the Southland Primary Principal's Association I have fortnightly zoom meetings with Ministry of Education officials and I (along with other representatives) express many different concerns and points around COVID. This gets passed on to the Secretary of Education - and as a result of this some aspects of the COVID guidelines have been changed over the past year.

What our board has dealt with in our community over the past three years is something that any Board of Trustees in my time here has never had to deal with. I could not be more proud of the group of parents who you have elected as your representatives.


We have been very lucky to secure funding from the Otautau Medical Trust to run structured swimming lessons through Johnston Waters. The students will get around 9 lessons from a qualified swimming coach. Our swimming lessons begin on our first day of school - so can all children please remember to bring their togs on the first day.

Nga mihi,

Simon Bell

COVID-19 Protection Framework - RED

Outlined below are some guidelines and expectations the board have set around how Otautau School will operate under the COVID-19 Protection Framework - RED setting. These guidelines are inline with the Ministry of Health and Education protocols and best practice.

Visitors to Otautau School

  • Parents are to drop off their children at the school gate and not to come on to school grounds. The exception to this is parents of new entrant (and newly enrolled children) who may come on to drop their child off and leave again. Face coverings must be worn on school grounds by parents.
    The board have made a decision that during the first week of school parents may come on school grounds (wearing a face covering) to support their child moving to their new classroom (if they are anxious and nervous).

  • If a parent wishes to talk with a teacher they are to ring the school office and leave a message for the class teacher to get back to them. Parents can also email their class teacher with questions they may have. This also applies to anyone wanting to meet with the school principal.

  • When visiting the school grounds please maintain a 2m distance from others.

  • When visiting the school office, we are operating a one in, one out policy. Please don't be offended if you have to wait outside the office door while another parent leaves.


  • Students in Year 4 and above are required to wear a face covering indoors.

  • Students in Year 1-3 do not need to wear a face covering but can do if they wish to.


  • Students who are unwell must stay home. This applies for students who have cold and flu symptoms as per the advice from public health. The school is operating a one sick, all sick policy for families.

Changes to mask requirements on school transport

As at 11.59pm on 3 February 2022, all students aged eight years and over or are students in Year 4 and above legally must wear a mask on school transport (both Ministry and regional council-operated).

Schools will manage any non-compliance just as they currently manage behavioural and wellbeing issues of school transport users.

This will also be identified on the school bus contract students and parents sign at the beginning of the year.

Big picture