Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dealing with student anxiety as schools reopen post Covid -19

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Murray Burton, Principal of Elim Christian College, says they’ve had all the protocols in place at all three campuses as school reopened yesterday after seven weeks of lockdown.

A staggered start and finish, with no public gatherings, staff meetings or school assemblies is the new norm.

“All staff meeting will be done via technology. Visitors and parents will not be allowed in the campus,” says Burton.

“Everyone brings in their own sanitisers to school and there is a copious amount in staff rooms and bathrooms as well,” he says.

Librarian Claire Galbraith sanitises the hundreds of books in the library of Elim Christian School’s Golflands Campus as the pupils return after Covid 19 Lockdown. Photo Wayne Martin.

Of the 1250 students that are being slowly integrated into the campuses, Burton says that currently he knows of five staff and 20 students not returning to school – due to varying reasons that include being health compromised.

Burton says the challenge is to have stringent measures of hygiene, “without the school looking like a hospital and then there is the emotional side that the school needs to look at.

“There will be a certain amount of anxiety so we have to make students feel the warmth and feel welcomed.”

He admits that while home learning has been challenging from some with mum and dad trying to earn a living and finding time to teach their children, other students have thrived with it.

And while teachers have to assess the different online learning levels of students, Burton says he plans to put some of the things he learnt from being under house arrest in good use.

“I think we can save time with online staff meetings and we’ll continue with that apart from some other things we learnt during lockdown.”

Yolande Franke: Video assembly for transition

watch video here

Somerville Intermediate worked on a video assembly to help students make a smooth transition to school. A video that covered all the safety measures in place from no water fountains to oaring books remotely from libraries and the different entries and exits to the school as well as no interschool sport for term 2 detailed the new norm at school.

“Staff and many parents have said that they have appreciated the clear and reassuring communications,” says principal of Somerville Intermediate Yolande Franke.

“There are some parents are anxious or concerned about underlying medical conditions (children or members of their household) and exercise caution by not sending their children back to school straight away.

“There will be some digital learning available; however, it will be significantly different to the online learning that students experienced during the lockdown.

“We’ll work with families in an effort to address concerns and support these students to transition to school,” she says.

Alan McIntyre: several hundred thousand dollars of expected income lost 

Alan McIntyre of Owaira Primary says the lockdown has certainly tested their resilience, patience and relationship building.

“It was important that we stood tall in the face of the unknown, showed leadership and managed the transition to lockdown. Our emphasis was on student and staff wellbeing and trying to have a positive approach to the situation

While school reopened yesterday, Alan says that new entrants to the school and full staff will be back on Monday May 25.

Lotte 5yrs & Able Robinson 7yrs give Mum, Katrina, a hug as they return to Owairoa Primary School after Covid 19 Lockdown Photo Wayne Martin.

“Some students are anxious about a return to school because of their ongoing exposure to the virus news and the family discussions around health and safety and hygiene. Even the five-year-olds seemed to have a good understanding about the ‘virus’ and health considerations associated with it.

“The challenges we will face is dealing with student and parent anxiety, the nervousness of children returning to school after such a long break and ensuring that we maintain a healthy, hygienic environment,” he says.

“We have been researching a number of articles on providing a school that acknowledges students fears so as the students return to class the programme will not be the same as when they left before the lockdown.

“On Monday parents were restricted entry onto the school site so we can manage the contact tracing and identification requirements. The playgrounds are open and students are excited to come back and meet their friends

Talking about the International Students programme that Owairoa School has successfully run for many years McIntyre says that post Covid-19 things will not be the same.

“Sadly the expected income budget will not be realised this year as some students have returned home.

“Our large July intake will not now happen as the borders are closed and the future is not predictable at this stage.

“Several hundred thousand dollars of expected income will not be available to the Board of Trustees this year.

“Thankfully we do have a core of Longer Term International Students enrolled currently with several more students from around New Zealand, eager to enrol at Owairoa Primary School, as Alert Level 2 begins.”








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