Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Addington School Earthquake Update

We have been given clearance by Civil Defence & Ministry of Education to commence the process of re-opening. The school and grounds have been assessed by MOE property managers and structural engineers. The school and grounds have been deemed safe for use.

Before students come on site we need to satisfy the Ministry of Education and District Health Authority that we can meet all requirements associated with isolating unsafe areas, and providing adequate water, drainage, sewer, power, heating, access, security and staffing. All classrooms and other school buildings will need to be tidied and thoroughly cleaned. At present the only stumbling block to our opening is the fact that two of our classroom blocks do not have water. This could impact on our desire to open on Monday 14th March.

Our plan is to have the administration block tidied on Tuesday March 8, hall, library & classroom areas tidied and cleaned on Thursday and Friday, March 10,11 and complete the various checks to gain Ministry approval to reopen. On Wednesday we will ask all teaching staff to come in to meet together to share our own stories and debrief and to provide additional staff training and professional development in managing stressed and upset children. Thursday and Friday will be set aside to begin classroom tidy ups, so that our contract cleaners can then complete the cleaning of these areas.

Please appreciate that the reopening process must be done thoroughly and provide adequate time for the school to be made tidy, clean and safe, and for staff to be fully prepared to welcome children and families. It cannot be rushed.

Re-Start Visit Friday 11th March between 1:00 - 2:30 pm

We invite parents to bring children into school to visit their classrooms and teachers. This will provide reassurance to children that our school and their classroom are safe places to come to on Monday, see that their teacher is OK, collect their bags and clothes left behind, and see some of their friends/classmates.

Monday 14 March 8:50 am School resumes

Please send children with drinkable water and remind them that the drinking fountains will not be able to be used. Thank you

We can expect that many children to be fragile and easily upset.

We will be monitoring childrens reactions carefully and will provide additional teacher support throughout the school. Where numbers allow some teachers will team teach to support each other. The staffroom will be set up as a quiet rest and support space for children who are upset or not coping. Some may only need this for a short time then be able to rejoin their class. Others may need to have parents called to reassure or collect them. We will be as flexible as we need to; some children may only be able to cope with part days to begin with.

From the Ministry of Education:

Message to parents and educators

The Christchurch earthquake has been frightening for everyone involved especially for children who may not understand what has happened. Children will try to make sense of what has happened and adjust to the changes that have happened to their homes and schools. Parents and teachers are very important supports for children.

How children respond to the earthquake depends on you and your ability to re-establish some familiar routines and explain calmly what has happened and why change is occurring (even though you might be feeling very stressed). You may need to explain this over and over again. Children might:

Ø want to be with you all the time and be a bit clingy

Ø need more reassurance than usual

Ø be scared that the big earthquake is going to happen again

Ø be tired and have trouble sleeping and eating

Ø be more frustrated and impatient than usual.

Be aware that children are most afraid that:

Ø the event will happen again, buildings and other things will fall down

Ø someone might be injured or killed

Ø they will be separated from you or the family

Ø they will be left alone.

The earthquake will result in a range of reactions and questions from toddlers, children and young people depending on their experience of the earthquake. Talking and listening is very important. Let your child/students know that you will all look after each other. It is important for parents and caregivers to give lots of cuddles and hugs.

Some Parenting Advice

Many of the children of Christchurch will be feeling anxious, scared and insecure following the devastating earthquake . What they need most from Mum and Dad is extra cuddles, patience and reassurance.

Kids will be fearful of more earthquakes and of being left alone. They will be worried about other people and pets – and you, if they have seen you hurt or upset. After a big shock children are easily triggered into a fearful state. Here are some things you can do to reassure them:

· Concentrate on closeness and cuddles

· Surround them with familiar objects such as soft toys and blankets

· Let them talk

Traumatic events can replay over and over in the mind. This will happen when something triggers the memory like a smell, a sound or a picture that reminds them of the earthquake. The emotions can feel almost as strong as they did during the initial trauma. They need your closeness and sympathy. Try to minimise the triggers for your little ones.

· Limit their exposure to media coverage

· Everyone will want to hear how you are and where you were when the earthquake happened, but avoid dramatic retellings on the phone when your children are listening

· As they retell their story, include positive problem solving. “What will be different next time – if there is a next time? What would make things safer?”

One of the best things you can do is model calm – and that’s not easy given the devastation and loss. But it is amazing how much extra courage we can draw up when we know our children are looking to us for reassurance. When you are obviously upset or anxious, explain your emotions to your children – it may help them understand their own feelings.

Be prepared to handle their questions. You are allowed to say you don’t know the answers, but offer to find out for them. Don’t deceive them, because they really need to trust you at this time. You can’t say there won’t be aftershocks, or even another big earthquake. “There may be a few more – no one knows, really – but we are prepared.”


  1. Great idea having re-start visits before children start back at school. Might have to steal that one Trudi.

  2. hi peoplez from addington