School during lockdown

Students in bubble school at Te Awamutu Intermediate School.

Students in bubble school at Te Awamutu Intermediate School.

Te Awamutu schools served up bubbles and Zoom for students during the Level 3 lockdown which ended this week.

Pekerau Primary School principal Tania Bagley said she had seen much greater engagement during this lockdown with both their teachers and students enjoying daily Zoom meetings with their classes.

It gave them an opportunity to keep connected but also kept their learning up with different activities.

“We have had students create videos of DIY projects such as repurposing an old bike wheel into a basketball hoop, making obstacle courses for physical activity and spending time learning valuable life skills such as cooking, painting and construction,” she said.

“There have been lots of scavenger hunts in backyards, box forts made, art from nature and so much more.”

Te Awamutu Primary School principal Sharon Griffiths and staff during Level 3.

Te Awamutu Primary School principal Sharon Griffiths and staff during Level 3.

Te Awamutu Primary School had seen a gradual increase over the week of level 3 “bubble school” principal Sharon Griffiths said.

They reached a maximum of 50 students with six class bubbles.

Bubble schools are made up of children of essential workers or parents who must work and where there is no one at home to look after them.

“Our bubble teachers are working in three hour shifts so they can also maintain their online learning programmes from home and check in with their usual classroom students at the alternative time of day,” Griffiths said earlier this week.

“This was established to prevent burnout of teachers who last time tried to do both tasks simultaneously.”

But the biggest struggle the school has faced is members of the public continuing to use the schools playground and fields.

Griffiths said that they have signs and banners around the closer of the school facilities.

“While we don’t mind this under usual circumstances, we would appreciate if people respected the closure of our grounds, especially when our students are onsite during the school day.”

Te Awamutu Intermediate principal Jill Shaw said her priority had not only been on her students and their parents but also keeping a particular focus on her teachers well being.

She said that the teachers have been busy with their online learning every day and were also supervising the school bubbles on a roster basis.

“I keep in regular contact with them and we have held Zoom meetings to keep in contact,” she said.

“They are all doing really well and even though they find it difficult to teach in this way as opposed to face to face they are working hard to make learning as interesting as they can.”


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