Wānaka schools have seen the vast majority of children returning through their gates this week after New Zealand transitioned to Alert Level 2 last Thursday, with the overriding feeling being one of excitement and community.
Wānaka Primary Principal Wendy Bamford told the Wānaka Sun that, after starting back with just 6 percent of students at the start of Alert Level 3, this Monday, 565 of their 585 students - 96.5 percent - had returned to school.
Bamford said that all students and staff were pleased to be back, and that parents had been “fabulous” at following precautionary measures, such as ‘kiss and drop’ duties, and staying away from the school gates.
“From our bubbles in the first two weeks, to everyone returning today, there have been happy faces and laughter, and a sense of order and calmness despite the distancing, sanitising, handwashing, surface cleaning and staggered breaks that we have in place,” said Bamford.
“Children have slotted back into routines so well,” she said. “Teachers have embraced the concept of distract and engage - today, I saw many classes talking about their feelings with regard to lockdown. I have been so proud of all of the staff as they have risen to the challenge through the whole process.
“Showing the calm 'we've got this' approach we have been nurturing as children came back to school yesterday has paid off… We have had happy, settled children right from the beginning of the process.”
At the secondary school level, Mount Aspiring College (MAC) has seen 94 percent of students return to campus this week. Principal Wayne Bosley echoed Bamford’s sentiments in a letter to parents, praising the “fortitude and adaptability” of students, who were adhering to the rules - such as hand sanitisation on entrance and exit of each class.
“There has been a real spirit of goodwill around school today with excitement levels high across all year levels,” Bosley reported. “It has been heartening to see the camaraderie and fellowship remain strong despite this extended time away.”
Meanwhile, a MAC sixth form student told the Wānaka Sun returning to school had been quite the transition. “It was pretty weird to see so many people in the same space again, and everyone’s still having to get back into the swing of things. It’s certainly a change from doing school in bed!”
Read edition 975 of the Wānaka Sun here.