Katikati College had 96 per cent attendance at school for the second week back in Covid-19 alert level 2 and is looking forward to almost 100 per cent as New Zealand moves to alert level 1 this week.

Principal Carolyn Pentecost said overall the students were incredibly settled and had enjoyed returning to school.

"It is wonderful to have almost everyone back on site. We are all enthusiastic about having more opportunities to communicate and connect face to face."

Level 2 learning would see more technology in classroom lessons, more student agency or choice about what they did and when they did it, she said.

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"We had positive feedback from our community about the 'Must Do, Should Do, Could Do' structure of our junior lessons. It is important that we consider our own and each other's well-being."

Pentecost was supposed to fly to Milan for an international marketing trip when the news of coronavirus hit so was watching events in Europe closely.

"As soon as it became clear this was going to be big, we set about putting together our pandemic plan and getting prepared."

She said lockdown and the Covid-19 experience had been different for all of us and may have repercussions over time. A major focus for the school was to embrace wellbeing and support the students, staff, and community in whatever ways they could to ensure positive outcomes.

Katikati College welcomed students and teachers back on site in alert level 2.
Katikati College welcomed students and teachers back on site in alert level 2.

The staff at Katikati College had been outstanding and taken on the challenge with positivity and dedication to their students, she said.

"We have all had some 'fun' on the way with weekly staff challenges, Tik Tok performances and baking challenges all shared through a staff blog."

Teachers were working with students to reintroduce them to school life, catch them up where needed and support them to be happy participants and contributors.

NCEA exams have been rescheduled at a national level to allow senior students more time. Extra tutorials and support are being offered by faculties and individual teachers as appropriate, and Club Rangatahi (Homework Club) was introduced on Thursdays from 3.15pm-4.30pm.

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Pentecost found that the Covid-19 experience had brought everyone together as a college and as a community.

"Even though we were in isolation, we were all connected either using technology or simply by the feelings generated by the challenges of uncertainty.

"I appreciated being included in the Community Services Covid-19 Katikati response team and want to thank all those who worked collaboratively to support our community so well."

She said college staff members were encouraged to get "comfortable, feeling uncomfortable" during the pandemic.

"What a fantastic job our staff did of this. Within a week many had mastered multiple new skills and were Zooming and Googling away with their students and each other."

Some of the highlights for Pentecost were the "virtual" staff briefing with 72 staff Zooming in, including two new staff, a staff trivia night, staff Blog page and the student leaders and the students.

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"I was so proud of our Anzac tribute, Essential Workers and Mother's Day shoutouts from our students. What selfless young people we are growing."

Covid-19 gave most of us a moment just to be, and appreciate those around us, Pentecost said.

"The way New Zealand has handled this has made me even prouder to be a Kiwi. We are known around the world for our No 8 wire mindset and this just shows the world once again what a pretty amazing country we are.

"I want to acknowledge and congratulate all the experts and decision-makers at the top.
They have done an amazing job of demonstrating strong leadership the Kiwi way."

As a mother of three and having worked at home for NZQA a couple of years ago Pentecost was prepared. A German student also joined their family of five for the lockdown period, adding to the fun.

Pentecost said the best part was walking the dog along the water in Omokoroa with the family and seeing other families out and about, "doing the right thing".

Watching her own children navigating their way through learning online and seeing how her husband was working with his school "was pretty inspiring".

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"On the first day back at level 2, my daughter said to me, 'I am going to miss doing my work when I feel like it'.

"I asked her about it and she explained how much she liked organising her day, her way. I certainly think we need to take note of this and work more towards flexibility in timetables and student agency."