Despite Mataura School’s vacant classrooms and empty playground, pupils are getting into the swing of a new school term.
Mataura School principal Susan Dennison said the school was able to operate by taking a technological approach to teaching.
This included using the Seesaw interactive digital learning app.
“The kids can upload their work on Seesaw,” Whaea Susan said.
“The teachers can look at what they have done. Parents can see too.
“Our school has been using Seesaw for three years already so it is already well established.”
Classes were meeting every day by using the Zoom video conference tool.
“They have a Zoom lesson every morning at 9.30.”
The video classes were “ticking along very well”.
Pupils and their families were checking in with teachers during this time and would be given tasks to work on during the day and time to ask questions.
Attendance levels during Zoom classes were high but not complete, Whaea Susan said.
This was a reflection of one of the biggest challenges of learning in lockdown.
“Forty-three percent [of the pupils] don’t have their own device.”
This was a problem as no device could mean no access to the internet.
Despite this, 80% of these pupils were still managing to submit work using a device belonging to a parent such as a laptop or a cellphone, she said.
“Cellphones aren’t really ideal.
“I really feel for families that don’t have a device.”
Whaea Susan had raised this issue with the Ministry of Education but said that the school was not yet being treated as a priority by the ministry.
A more old-fashioned approach had also been taken to help all pupils, she said.
“We delivered packages to everybody.
“They have reading books, writing books, pencils and worksheets galore.”
The school was encouraging everyone to just “do what you can do”.
“We don’t want to put pressure on families.”
A plan for learning at Covid-19 Alert Level 3 was under way but had yet to be announced.
Year 5 pupil Jessica Coats said once she had figured out the technology, learning in lockdown was not particularly different from learning at school.
“We have Zoom meetings and catch up with what we’ve been doing,” she said.
“Then I go on Seesaw.”
The hardest part of lockdown was not having her own device, she said.
“I’ve been working off Mum’s laptop.”
Another problem with learning in lockdown was not being with classmates.
“I miss my friends.”
However she was enjoying being with her family and being able to sleep in a little longer.
Year 4 pupil Noah Berrio was enjoying learning in lockdown.
“It’s fun,” Noah said.
“I like doing stuff on Seesaw.
“It’s just like school.”
A recent project on Seesaw was to watch video footage of animals such as giraffes and flamingos in the San Diego Zoo.
He then wrote a story about the animals.
A pile of 10 books from the school were waiting to be read.
Although he had a younger brother to play with, Noah also missed his classmates.
“I feel so excited for when I’ll see my friends again,” he said.
Noah’s mother Tania Berrio said the school’s response to the lockdown was amazing.
“All the families were called,” Mrs Berrio said.
“They are really good at communicating.”
She was also impressed with how the teachers were handling the situation, she said.