Newmarket School re-opened on the 17 November and will operate within the guidelines outlined by the government. This is requiring agility and innovation. Routines, schedules, and the operation of school is looking different than it did when we were last engaged in face to face learning. Regular communication with families will continue as will our Learning@Home programme.
The guidelines have been developed based on the advice provided by Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health for what we believe will work for our school. As we have never had to operate in this environment previously, there may be some adjustments that need to be made. These will be communicated our parents in a timely manner.
As we start back learning kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) this must continue to be done in a way that is safe for children, students and staff.
As this new way of schooling settles in, some parents may change their mind about sending their child to school. This is fine, all we ask is that parents convey this to the school well in advance, either the school office or the child's teacher, so we can plan and make any adjustments for increasing numbers in spaces.
Schools have the flexibility to determine how we manage onsite and off-site learning and attendance, with our decisions informed by the required health measures, the needs of our community, and any opportunities or constraints through our physical settings and layout. Thankfully, our lovely environment is very spacious, and we have very manageable numbers of students returning. We are therefore able to offer a tailored hybrid learning model, one where learning is well balanced between home and school learning.
In re-opening the school the wellbeing and safety of our students and staff has been paramount and is our first principle of re-opening. As a result of the need to avoid congestion, to keep groups contained and physically distanced from each other, we have made some changes to the hours of attendance and the days on site.
Attendance onsite will initially be full-time for two and then three days per week. We will keep children and staff in small and stable groups and wherever practicable keep them physically distanced from other groups, when inside and outside. At this stage we do not know if there will be any further changes if Auckland moves to the traffic light system in December.
Our focus as a school is what happens inside our gates. We aren't able to control how people travel to or from school, or what students and their families do outside of school, however, we are ensuring everyone adheres to the rules inside our school at all times.
Classes have been spending time on mindfulness to help develop strategies for change and reduce any anxieties back at school. Some classes are using drama as well as crafting and creating things using a range of materials. For our younger children there may be outside dancing, rotations around the playground, handwriting with chalk or paint brushes outside, sharing stories and integrating small blocks of writing for example.
Routines are vital and the most important thing to begin with is getting the children back into school, re-socialising as much as we can and re-connecting. Academic learning will gradually filter back into programmes and staff will use their expertise for when this is appropriate for each child. There is no pressure. We are not expecting children to get straight back into their normal programmes until we see how they feel.
Newmarket School teachers have worked hard to provide a balanced and diverse range of Learning@Home resources to support our learners. This will continue even though schools are now open. While we will still utilize our devices for digital learning and Google Meets, the focus will be a more on activities, and the paper resources we have provided.