Northland students will be reunited with their teachers and friends today as schools re-open under alert level 2.
For more than a month learning has consisted of Zoom, Facebook, Google Classrooms and learning packs as schools shut their doors during lockdown, and only opened at limited capacity during alert level 3.
But today school will look pretty close to normal.
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Paul Shepherd, principal of Maunu School in Whangārei, said distance learning had gone well and the staff remained positive, but everyone was looking forward to seeing the students.
"It will be great to see all the children again, and I know that many of them are really looking forward to seeing their teacher and their mates after quite a time apart," he said.
School re-opened for parents who needed to return to work at alert level 3 but strict health and safety guidelines were implemented such as the requirement for students to be in bubbles of no more than 10 children.
In Northland, it meant only 1 per cent of students attended school over the last two weeks, with the highest number of children attending school in a single day being 382.
Shepherd said about 13 and 19 children attended his school during alert level 3 and staff were all prepared and ready to go for alert level 2.
"Teachers tend to be 'people people' and while they have become skilled at online learning, they really enjoy the personal contact with children, colleagues and whānau.
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"We expect classroom programmes to be different to normal for the first week at least. We need to be aware of what children have been doing over lockdown, how they are feeling within themselves, what stories they have to share and reinforcing the class and school routines," he said.
Shepherd said planning for level 2 had, its issues due to a number of differences between what schools can do and the Ministry of Health guidelines.
But he said the Ministry of Education had been supportive in getting information out to schools.
"Schools have already communicated to their communities what the procedures are, but no doubt some of them will be amended once we get into the swing of school life at level 2. I think the important thing is to realise that everyone is doing the best they can, with the information they have to keep everyone safe," he said.
Meanwhile, Hikurangi Primary School principal Bruce Crawford said at level 2 no parents will be able to enter the school, classrooms will spend longer on in classroom routines like washing hands, and parents will need to provide water bottles as all water fountains will be turned off.
"[Staff] are eager to re-engage with kids," he said.