Despite a “nerve-wracking” start, learning from home is going well so far for pupil Maggie Gorman.
Due to the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, the school holidays were moved forward and term 2 of school started on Wednesday last week.
Maggie (17), Logan Park High School’s head girl, admitted she was nervous about the idea of learning from home initially, but it was going “pretty well so far”.
During the holidays, teachers figured out how the classes would operate and had “come back with a really good system”, she said.
Pupils could meet online with their teachers individually, in a group, or as a whole class.
“Most of the work I’m doing in NCEA [National Certificate of Educational Achievement] is independent so we’re off doing internals [and] we’d only need to come to the teacher during the lesson and they’d check up on us,” Maggie said.
“We can email them questions and they’ll answer.”
How often each class met would depend on the subject, she said.
“For example, I take history and classics and those are ones that were doing independent research . . . so they’re [teachers] checking up on us once or twice a week.”
Other classes could meet more often.
She was among the many pupils studying NCEA who were concerned about the qualification, but she trusted the school would have a plan.
During the lockdown, she and the school’s prefects have been using social media to keep pupils updated.
Like many other secondary schools, they started an Instagram page, which pupils can follow.
“We’ve just used it as a way of . . . notifying kids of things that the principals say.”
They have also been sharing updates on the Otago Secondary School Association isolation challenge.
The page was like an assembly but online, she said.
School co-principal Kristan Mouat said teachers had been preparing for the start of term 2 for the past few weeks.
Once the lockdown was announced, the school “quickly” contacted families to make sure pupils had what they needed to work from home – whether they want to
work electronically or paper-based.
“The Ministry of Education has been really supportive in terms of helping to provide resources,” Ms Mouat said.
Teachers met pupils virtually during their usual time-tabled period, so classes did not clash.
So far, pupils seemed to enjoy meeting online.
“For young people that social community connectedness is really important, so they’re really enjoying seeing each other again.”
It was challenging for them to be away from their friends, and not have their regular activities, such as sport or drama.
Parents had been supportive and proactive in making sure pupils had everything they needed.
“We want to reassure them that they don’t have to be the teachers.”
Ms Mouat said she was pleased with the local support from the Ministry of Education.
She praised its communication with schools, especially around what Level 3 might look like, so that they had time to prepare for all eventualities.
“I think everyone’s doing their best with . . . what is an unprecedented event.”