They say it takes a village to raise a child — and when your school is damaged by fire it can take a whole town to teach a child.
After a blaze at Russell School on February 23 put the school out of action for three weeks, clubs and businesses around the town leapt into action to offer alternative teaching venues.
The new entrants had their morning lessons at the bowling club and spent the afternoons at PlayCentre. Years 3-6 were taught at the RSA while the seniors took their lessons in the Duke of Marlborough's conference centre and occasionally the Swordfish Club.
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The morning welcome and headcount was at Haratu Marae, and who needs a pool for swimming sports when your town is next to the sea?
Principal Melissa Jackson said she was hugely grateful for the "amazing" response from parents and the Russell community.
The children had spent the week before the fire on camp so the school had already drawn on a lot of goodwill, for example from parents who took leave so they could come along.
At first she thought the school might be closed for a few days but it ended up being three weeks, mainly due to concerns about asbestos from the damaged prefabs.
Lessons were cancelled for the first week with the children using alternative venues for the following two weeks.
''They missed their school but the ones in the RSA particularly loved that space. We asked them to treat it like a museum or an art gallery, with lots of treasures to look at but not touch but to ask lots of questions.''
''They were made so welcome, and for a lot of our children there's a connection with family members who've served in one of the forces. They also had the lovely experience of meeting the ladies who play cards at the RSA every Wednesday.''
Jackson said she tried to keep school as normal as possible despite the change of venue.
''A lot of people offered outings but our judgment was that the children needed more of a classroom situation. They'd already had a week away from school at camp, and then the upset of what had happened, so we wanted to keep them close and replicate what we do in the classroom as much as we could.''
The school had planned a kapa haka performance and shared lunch on Monday to thank the Russell community but it had to be cancelled due to concerns over the Covid-19 virus. Instead the children were busily making thank you cards.
Jackson was also grateful to the volunteer firefighters who had saved most of the school.
''Some of our firefighters were very affected. Some have children at the school or even went to the school themselves. I'm sure no fires are fun but this one was pretty close to home.''
Russell School, like almost every other educational facility in the country, is now closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic with children preparing to take lessons at home.