Term Two 2021 Review Summary
Nau mai, haere mai! We received over 1000 pieces of feedback from reviewers (board, staff, parents), which have helped us improve our generic Visitors policy. This is an important policy designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of visitors, students, and employees and provide guidelines to set out expectations and legal requirements.
It was encouraging to find the policy working well for many. The review clearly prompted discussion about how to improve interactions with visitors (e.g. signage, reporting to the office, making parents/whānau feel welcome, limiting disruption to teaching and learning, vehicle access and safety). It was also noted that the school’s Visitors policy is an important part of staff induction.
Many reviewers were confused by the wording about visitors recording their visit by scanning a QR code poster. We have addressed this by stating the Government’s current messaging in a note at the beginning of the topic:
“Under the COVID-19 Public Health Order, all schools are required to display a QR code poster for the NZ COVID Tracer app in a prominent place at or near the main entrances. Our school displays a QR Code and visitors are encouraged to use NZ COVID Tracer app to track where they have been. This is in addition to any other sign-in processes in place.”
Who is a visitor?
We have widened our terminology referring to “parents” to read “parents/caregivers/whānau”, which is more inclusive.
Is a parent a visitor when dropping their kids off?
We’ve updated our sample wording to state that “All visitors to the site, except those dropping off or picking up students before and after school, are asked to report to the school office.” This wording is tailorable and schools should check that their topic reflects what happens in practice.
Schools are smokefree and vapefree
Many reviewers noted that schools are smokefree and vapefree. This is covered fully in the Smokefree Schools topic but we’ve updated the wording in the Visitors topic to make this clearer. Remember that you should now be displaying vapefree signage also.
Privacy issues and sharing photos/videos taken at school
In response to feedback, we’ve added the statement “We encourage visitors to consider privacy issues when sharing photos and videos taken at school events.” and we link to the Sharing Images of Students topic. We suggest using other everyday communication methods (see your Communicating with Parents topic) to remind your school community about privacy issues prior to relevant events (e.g. sports days, EOTC events).
What about dogs on school grounds?
Visitors should know whether they can bring a dog onto school grounds, and under what circumstances. We’ve added optional, sample wording about dogs on school grounds, and we remind schools that there are optional topics that cover this issue. Contact us for a link or search “dog” on the Model site.
It is illegal to wear gang insignia on school grounds
Under the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Act 2013, it is illegal to wear gang insignia on school grounds. Schools leaders should be prepared to act if this is a problem at their school. The Ministry of Education has helpful information, including steps schools can take. We have updated our generic wording to include asking the person to remove the item.
We’ve added a link to the school’s Reverse Evacuation/Lockdown information because it stresses that “Parents must follow any instructions issued by the school, including not coming to the school to see or collect their children. This is particularly important when the school is in lockdown under Police instruction.”
Vehicles on site
Lots of reviewers commented about vehicles having a walking escort when in areas where students may be present. There was support for the idea but some surprise that this was part of the policy/procedure as many had never seen it happen! We supply sample wording for what schools might like to cover about vehicles on school grounds and this part of the topic is fully tailorable – let us know what wording works for your school.
Many reviewers commented that their sign-in processes were out of date or not consistent with current practice. We remind schools to check their topics before they are reviewed – this is a very important part of keeping your policies and procedures up to date.Ask yourself, “Are we doing what we say we’re doing?” If not, get in touch so we can update your content!