Apanui School principal, Simon Akroyd

SCHOOLS in the Eastern Bay are all set to go for distance learning on the first day of term two today, says the head of the Whakatane Community of Learning, Simon Akroyd.

Mr Akroyd, who is also principal of Apanui School, said many teachers had been maintaining daily contact with their students and families throughout the lockdown and it had been an awesome commitment from them.

“My understanding across the CoL is that there are many families who do not have internet access and/or devices available for children to use. Schools are catering for this by providing both online and offline options for learning.

“Most parents have a phone and contact is maintained through this, the positive is that this engages the parents also and it keeps them in the loop.”

Apanui School has applied for 50 hard copy home learning packs from the Ministry of Education, which has said it will assist students with devices, getting them connected to the Internet or with hard copy learning packs. Priority is being given to NCEA students.

A few television channels are also broadcasting learning from this morning, with subjects tailored to different school levels. While schools have been maintaining contact with families via online learning platforms, such as SeeSaw, Google Classroom, via Facebook, email, apps and more, some school families are still out of contact. “We are aware of some families who are not able to be easily contacted in the current environment.

We want to attempt to provide opportunities for their children and to ensure that they are up to speed with what is happening and if we can support.” No decision has been made yet by the Government about when schools will reopen.

“It currently seems that the earliest return for any child would be April 29, but this is not in concrete. “It is possible that the return to school will be staggered for children and possibly for some staff. No firm details from the Ministry of Education yet, but clearly there is talk around emergency children being the priority.”

The ministry said if schools re-opened on April 29 social distancing would still have to be maintained, this could mean that schools could combine distance and onsite learning. The reopening of schools will depend on when the lockdown ends.

The Government is expected to make an announcement on this on April 20 and has indicated the country will not move out of level four before April 22. The Government is expected to provide information later this week on what level three would look like for the education sector. Home Learning TV broadcasts are also starting today and will run for a month – with provision to extend beyond that depending on the lockdown situation.

The programmes, which include play, literacy mathematics, science, te reo Maori, physical education and wellbeing, as well as Pacific language content, are aimed at children and students who find it tricky to learn online, or who don’t have hard pack learning resources.

Home Learning | Papa Kainga TV will be shown, free to air, on TVNZ channel 2+1 and on TVNZ OnDemand, as well as on Sky Channel 502. It will run from 9am to 3pm on school days with programming for children and young people aged 0 to 15, as well as for parents.