If you've been struggling with work meetings involving half a dozen colleagues on Zoom, just imagine sharing a videoconference with 150 children.

That, however, is the new normal for Monday morning assembly at Kerikeri's Springbank School.

While most Northland schools brought the autumn holidays forward when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a national Covid-19 lockdown from 11.59pm on March 25, Springbank decided to carry on via distance learning.

Students spend 10 minutes to the full hour per lesson on Zoom with their classmates and teacher, depending on the subject and their year level.


Each has a learning pack and a stack of text books to limit their time on devices.

Principal Mike Warren said staff were keen to keep school as normal as possible despite the lockdown.

''We felt it was really important for our students to have routine at this challenging time so on Monday afternoon, when the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, we quickly made the decision to go to distance learning,'' he said.

The staff had already done some Zoom training and had a teacher-only day on Tuesday to brush up their skills. Zoom lessons started on Wednesday, the day before the lockdown started, so students missed only one day of school.

The response from staff, students and families had been ''amazing'' with the children enjoying the continued interaction with their classmates and teachers.

The usual teething problems were resolved within the first few days by Warren, whose background is in IT.

The biggest adjustment was from parents of the youngest children, who now had to take a more active role in lessons, but the middle and senior students were used to working independently.

''It's business as usual for them. They're just at home instead of school.''


School would break up on Thursday for the holidays and, if the lockdown ended after four weeks, resume as normal on April 28.

The school has about 260 students, from pre-school to Year 13, with 150 logging in to Monday morning's assembly on Zoom. With only 25 faces fitting on the screen at once they filled six pages.

This week's assembly included a librarian's report, staff explaining what they enjoyed about distance learning, prefects' video reports, and student of the week awards.

Teacher Lynne Alexander, better known as Mrs A, made the birthday presentations and bade farewell after 20 years at Springbank. Once borders reopen she plans to sail around the world.

Warren announced a dress-up day on Thursday, talked about doing what was expected even when no one was watching, and ended with a quote: ''Tough times never last but tough people do''.

Last week, when he first tried holding an assembly on Zoom, all students had their audio turned on so they could clap together as student awards were announced.

However, Warren said letting 150 kids take part at once had ''a mixed effect''. This week the mute button was on.