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School, but not as they know it

Lakeview School in Masterton. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Schools deep-cleaned, ready to reopen to students


For those going back to school today, novel measures will be in place to ensure covid-19 bubbles and hygiene is maintained.

Masterton Intermediate School principal Russell Thompson knows many of his 500 students are “bursting to get back to school”.

But the Ministry of Education says if a parent or caregiver is available to look after a child, and they have access to distance learning, then they are encouraged to stay home.

Thompson said pupils were missing social connection with peers and strong relationships with teachers. “Naturally, many were also missing their sports teams.”

Thompson arranged for the school fields to be mown on Monday and was organising a thorough school clean.

Masterton Intermediate School principal Russell Thompson, left practising social distancing with caretaker Mike Clarke. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

“We shut the school and had not had it cleaned for a month,” Thompson said.

Featherston School principal Gina Smith said they had contacted families to find out who would be at school this week – the numbers were small.

“I think this may change as it becomes clearer in our community who is returning to work.”

One teacher will be coming in to look after the first pod of students, while the school’s other teachers would be working from home using the internet.

“We will call in teachers as we need to expand in our delivery of teaching at school.”

Like Masterton Intermediate, the school has deep-cleaned surfaces using hospital-grade disinfectant.

The guidelines from one Wairarapa school lists several changes to take effect when children return, making school look quite a bit different to the norm.

School bubbles will begin as a series of groups of up to 10 people, “with a view to expand once students and staff get used to this new way of learning”.

Changes include using hand sanitiser at every entry and exit point to classrooms and bathrooms.

There are to be staggered entry times into classes and to breaks.

Children will eat and play at specific times, never crossing physical paths with another group.

Using drinking fountains and doing contact sports is banned.

At Wairarapa University College of Learning, students would be put into groups of no more than 10 people, including staff.

The team would use contact tracing, through an interlinked system [such as a school, region, or country].

“It’s these extra steps that will make sure learning can continue in a safe and appropriate environment,” executive director of education and applied research Dr Jerry Shearman said.

“Our facilities and health and safety teams play a key part in getting the campus ready”

At the other end of the education spectrum, the early childhood sector is also opening but the Early Childhood Council says it believes the centres should not open until level two.

“Our primary job is keeping everyone safe and healthy,” chief executive Peter Reynolds said.

“To work through safety concerns for children, teachers and staff, we still need time and flexibility.

“As a real-world example – making playgrounds out of bounds makes it impossible to open.

“If small operators can’t use outdoor play equipment safely, they simply won’t meet spacing requirements.

“ECE wants to play its part to get the economy moving – when we have the answers to key questions and an assurance staff and children are safe, we support centres reopening.

“Until then, we should look at options like home care for children of essential workers.”

The Provincial Education Group runs four early childhood centres in Wairarapa and are opening today.

They are: Dot Kids Carterton, Martinborough, and Greytown, and The Cubbyhouse in Masterton.

The company has a type of antibacterial “spray fog” that can be sprayed and sits on surfaces to keep them sterile.

Management intended to check temperatures of children upon entry.

Each centre had only a handful of children coming back this week but were glad to be open.

Greytown Dot Kids manager Sam Gordon was pleased to be back.

“We miss the kids and we miss teaching them and we are excited to be coming back,” she said.

The company was waiting for further clarification about the requirements around playing on outdoor equipment, but chief executive Andrew Phillipps said the country had done well.


    • I dont think that is fair to say. Lets play it safe. Look after the vulnerable. We are still learning about this contagion

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