Out of 50 classrooms at Taupō's Tauhara College, only 13 survived the November deluge that closed the school.
That means that even with its new classroom village of 13 modcom classrooms taking shape at pace in one corner of the school, the college still faces a substantial shortfall in classroom accommodation in term one.
The downpour on November 25 forced the closure of its ageing prefab classroom blocks A, B, C, D, the college's gym and the art room.
Existing undamaged classrooms are being used for specialist teaching such as music and the school's hall is being converted into a learning hub for senior students, but there will still be fewer classrooms available than are needed in term one.
As a result the school hall is being converted into a learning hub and the college's Year 12 and 13 senior students will work at home a day a week during term one.
The college held two meetings last Thursday evening for its school community to inform them of the changes, the plans being made for students' learning in term one, and answer any questions.
College principal/tumuaki Ben Hancock said most of the school would operate in one corner of the campus where the new village was sited.
The old, unsafe buildings would be fenced off and plans were being made to bring in more classrooms which would probably be constructed as a second classroom village.
It still had to be worked out where that would go and what it would look like, although it would incorporate more specialist spaces such as science laboratories and food technology areas.
The school's gym would also be repaired during term one. For PE classes in term one, the plan was to bus students to and from the Taupō Events Centre, subject to funding.
"There are different plans and we're working on them at the moment with the Ministry of Education," Mr Hancock said.
"All going to plan, those buildings will be in place ready to go for the start of term two and that will pretty much bring us up to where we need to be room-wise and then we'll look at where to next - what we're doing with our existing buildings, where we're going to build our new school."
He emphasised that although the immediate priority was providing warm, safe, dry comfortable learning spaces for students, no decisions had yet been made about a permanent property solution.
Among the speakers was Ministry of Education delivery manager Emma Coker, who ran through the set up of the new classroom villages and progress so far.
She was followed by the head of the college's social sciences faculty, Scott Sargison, who told the meeting he was determined to make the new learning arrangements at the college work.
"This is a huge opportunity. Schools around the country and around the world are grappling with the way the world works and the demands on kids. In many ways this has forced our hand a lot and it's really exciting for us," Mr Sargison said.
He said the school had been working hard to figure out the way ahead in 2021 and during that process had stuck with four core principles: keeping the Year 9 and 10 students at school; having as much contact with senior students as possible; having relationships as fundamental to learning; and giving teachers time and support structures.
For Mr Sargison, that meant different ways of teaching.
"For example, for Year 12 history when I have my Monday class in the learning hub [the school hall] I'm not going to be able to stand in front and talk at them because there will be five or six other classes in here."
Year 12 and 13 senior students with a clear pathway to university would be working online at home one day a week in term one, while those who were doing Gateway (work experience) or Trades would be out in the community on that day.
Mr Hancock said students who did not yet have a clear plan or pathway would work with the school to try to identify what their pathway might be.
For parents fearing a return to lockdown-style learning, Mr Sargison said that wouldn't be the case.
"It's not your job to teach them but it is a partnership where if [learning's] not happening, we need to know.
"We want to make sure there's a really clear plan in place. We want to make sure everything is locked in place before you work at home."
Mr Hancock said there would be checks and balances in place to ensure that home learning was effective.
"I have high expectations from my teachers on what that looks like and that is an effective learning plan that students are going as high and as hard as they can to learn. Parents will have access to Google classrooms so you can go and check their work and teachers will be following that up."
Mr Hancock said the changes were an exciting phase for the school even though it had been an extremely busy few weeks for everyone involved.
While things were changing very quickly and planning was ongoing, he assured parents and whānau that the school would be ready for the students' return, that the classrooms would be ready to move into and the teaching programmes sorted.
"It's a team effort. We talk about this being a whānau school and through this journey it's been even more so. Everyone from my staff to the community have joined in and helped.
"The board of trustees has been hugely supportive and done their best to make sure that when we come back at the start of the year the school's in the best possible position.
"We have an amazing programme and staff here and what we're going to have is better then we had. The buildings that we're going to move into are amazing so we are in a better place and that's only a holding space.
"I'm really excited about this year and I know the staff are really excited too."