Schools prepare to reopen their doors

Principal Craig Price, Oliver Bray, 9, Sophie Bray, 5, Harry Bray, 5, and Deputy Principal Tanya Healy.

Schools are looking forward to having their communities physically back together again when they open on Monday. 

“We’re excited to have our school whanau coming back together again,” says Selwyn Ridge Primary School principal Craig Price.

They are one of many Bay of Plenty schools looking forward to getting back to some semblance of normality and their experience is pretty typical.

 “This week gives us time to prepare.”

The school has a staff meeting on Friday to prepare for teaching under the Level 2 requirements.

“It’s about making sure everyone's comfortable with good procedures, particularly around hygiene and health requirements.”

The school holidays were brought forward two weeks due to the pandemic and national emergency, with pupils starting this term by distance learning. 

Selwyn Ridge provided hard pack resources, and digital devices to some families, enabling all students to connect to the online learning. A regular Monday morning movie also helped keep the school community connected, celebrating pupils’ birthdays and providing updates.

“We were very mindful of the different situations that people would be in,” says Craig. “The most important thing is wellbeing, maintaining positive connections and supporting our families.”

Selwyn Ridge had about 25 pupils return to school during Level 3, with Craig and his staff supervising small family bubbles.

“My bubble had seven kids in it,” says Craig. “We kept families together and kept them small for tracing purposes.”

The return to Alert Level 2 means that there will be no more bubbles at Selwyn Ridge with about 450 children returning to the classes they were in before going into lockdown. Playgrounds and equipment will also be available to use.

“It’s about awareness of and maintaining good hand hygiene and cough etiquette and not coming to school if they are unwell.

“We’ll also be talking with our kids about what they experienced and how they felt during lockdown. It’s an opportunity to do some really positive social and emotional learning.”

Craig is appreciative of how hard the teachers have been working, mostly remotely, during the lockdown, and how resourceful and supportive the whole school community has been.

“We're proud of the way that we've worked together as a community of school staff, parents and whanau in what has been difficult and challenging circumstances. Parents can feel happy that teachers and schools are going to continue to do the best we can for their kids.”

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