Seamless return to school under Alert Level 2

14 Sep 2021

When asked by The Informer how the “restart” of school under Covid-19 Alert Level 2 went on Thursday last week, both John Wright, principal of Mercury Bay Area School, and Mary Kedzlie, principal of Te Rerenga School confirmed that it was a seamless process. 

“We have had a very smooth restart, students and staff were well settled,” Mr Wright said. “I had the opportunity to visit all 55 classes at the start of Thursday. Everyone was really pleased to be back and a key element of this is around reconnection with their peers, friends and teachers.  

“We were able to distribute over 100 devices from the school to students during lockdown to support home learning, particularly for students in Year 7 to Year 13. Online learning is a challenge for all and we are getting better at this. My view is that we will need to continue to improve as I believe we will be in this position several times into the near future. 

“So the ‘improvement’ is for our staff, with our young people and with families who have the tough job of navigating parenting, ‘teaching’, motivating learners and setting expectations too. We know this is a challenge, so the more we practice the better we will all be.

“Overall, I am really pleased with the way we have started - again it is similar to last time and we are all getting better.”

Ms Kedzlie said the Te Rerenga School students were excited to be back among their friends and the routine of school. “The announcement of going into Alert Level 4 was so unexpected, unlike in 2020 when we had a couple of days to get organised for distance learning and sending devices and hard pack materials home,” she said. “We had around 30 children requiring devices, so a small group of staff went back into school to get these and drop them off. Many of the distance learning arrangements were still in place from previously - using Google Classroom and programmes like Mathletics and Sunshine Classics for reading. 

“Teachers emphasised that family health and wellbeing were priorities and that we didn't want learning from home to be a stressful time. We had most children fully engaged in their formal home learning, but others were learning mainly through play. 

“We are trying to be as normal as possible, but we have had to postpone a few events scheduled. The Year 7 and Year 8 children were going to be heading to the Hillary Outdoor Centre on the Central Plateau next week, but this will now be in November, and our book fair which had just started as we headed into lockdown, has been packed up and we will now have that early in Term 4, when we are hopefully back at Level 1. 

When asked about mask wearing at school, Ms Kedzlie said a few of the older Te Rerenga students have returned to school wearing masks, but it isn't compulsory. 

Mr Wright said despite the fact that mask wearing isn’t compulsory at school, many MBAS students and staff are wearing masks. “It makes really good sense to wear masks,” he said. “The key elements to keep everyone safe are to follow the health and school practice guidelines.”

The guidelines are:

  • • Students, staff and parents to cough into their elbow, wash/sanitise their hands and stay at home if they feel unwell.
  • • Have a Covid-19 test if symptoms of Covid exist for parents and children, and remain at home until a negative test is achieved.
  • • Drop students off and collect them outside the school boundary.
  • • Parents to scan the MBAS Covid QR code anytime they are near the school boundary.
  • Pictured: Mercury Bay Area School principal, John Wright.