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Virtual meeting . . . St Kevin's College student leadership team (top, from left) Alexander Houston, Annie Metcalfe, Bethan Ardouin, (bottom, from left) Carl Alegado, Emily McCoy and Joel Kunnethedan have a Zoom meeting with principal Paul Olsen. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Dining tables, living rooms and bedrooms across the Waitaki and Waimate districts have been converted into classrooms.

School pupils started term two in lockdown last week and, although access to the internet and digital devices presented a challenge for some families, most teachers, pupils and parents were coping “incredibly well”, North Otago Primary Principals’ Association president Kate Mansfield said.

Mrs Mansfield, who is principal at Glenavy School, said children were excited to get stuck into schoolwork again and drive their own learning.

“We have designed our day in a way as to not overwhelm the teacher, the parents or the students,” she said.

Mrs Mansfield was giving the school community regular updates and helping and supporting them wherever possible.

“I stress to [families] that they just do what they can,” she said.

“Not to put added stress on themselves and to make this time flexible and work for their individual families.”

St Kevin’s College was already using several different online learning platforms before the Covid-19 pandemic, so it had “simply been a case of increasing that online presence” in lockdown, principal Paul Olsen said.

“Most of our students are attending virtual classes and their support for each other at this time has been impressive,” he said.

“Many of our teachers are reporting that they are finding that they are learning a lot of new digital skills and that this period is good for the development of pedagogy, despite its scary overtones.

“All in all, the college family is in a good place in terms of delivering quality teaching and learning to our students, which is not to say we don’t miss our old lives.”

As well as schoolwork, social connections were vital, Waitaki Girls’ High School acting principal Margaret Williams said.

Student leaders had been continuing in their roles, using social media platforms to keep in touch with other pupils and peer support leaders had also made contact with their year 9 groups, Ms Williams said.

“The key at this time is to keep connected and parents and students are able to make direct contact with any staff member, dean, guidance counsellor or senior leadership.

“We need to remember this is temporary; we will be back on-site one day.”

The Oamaru Kindergarten Association was preparing to open its facilities on Wednesday for children whose parents or caregivers had to work.

“If parents and caregivers can keep their children at home, then they should continue to do so,” Oamaru Kindergarten Association general manager Julie Craig said.

The Oamaru Kindergarten Association was working closely with the Ministry of Education to meet strict health and safety guidelines.

“We know how important it is for parents to feel safe and reassured about their child attending,” Ms Craig said.

“We are here to support and look after our families and care for their children.”