Adapting to a new way of life

Otumoetai College Special Needs students are happy to see things slowly return to normal. Photo: Emily Ardern Photography.

Otumoetai College Special Needs students are turning their backs on COVID-19.

The students have made a triumphant return to school after spending almost seven weeks studying at home following the national Level 4 lockdown announcement in late March.

The first few weeks back at school have presented a series of challenging changes for a cohort accustomed to cherishing consistency. Coughs, high-fives, courses and timetables have all changed, and students have had to come to terms with new routines around hand sanitising and social distancing.

The department’s NCEA Level 1 English class has been using copies of The Weekend Sun as part of a module exploring community news.  

Year 11 student Alice Sampson, who excels in basketball along with a raft of other sports, had mixed feelings about coming back to school.

“I felt a little bit in the middle; I was really excited to see everybody, but I was worried I might miss out on some of my subjects,” says Alice.

“I didn’t do Mainstream P.E for a bit, so we’ve designed our own classes instead and it’s been great.”

Brayden Collins initially enjoyed the break but was eager to return to school when Level 3 was lifted in mid May, while Jack Phillips has settled quickly back into his old habits of pranking classmates and championing birthdays.

English teacher Mrs Woest is incredibly proud of how students have handled drastic changes to their routines.

“I am so proud of the students. I think they’ve shown amazing resilience,” she says.

“They’ve adapted wonderfully to all the new rules and all I see is happy faces.”

Teacher aide Mrs Truesdale agrees.

“I expected them to be unsettled as routine is incredibly important to many of our students, but not one of them have struggled since coming back to school.”

Students are crossing their fingers that current Level One restrictions will soon be lifted, but in many ways know they’ve thrived under the adversity presented by the pandemic.

Year 13 student Jack Dobb’s new mantra likely says it best: “Change is okay.”

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