CHALLENGE IS ON: Theos Huari-Tupe and teacher Mr Groenendijk play games together. Photos supplied

A HANDFUL of high school students are physically at schools this week under alert level three, which permits students up to year 10 of essential workers to return, while the numbers are higher at primary schools.

Whakatane High School has only five students at the school in a bubble, while Edgecumbe College has six.

“The rest of our students are doing distance learning at home; the teachers are supporting them to do that work,” Whakatane High principal Martyn Knapton said.

“These students have parents who are essential workers, so it is really important to support them.”

He is pleased with the enthusiasm of his teachers, with many going the extra mile to ensure students are able to get their work done.

DOUBLE BUBBLE: Theos and Diamond Huari-Tupe work together at Allandale School while maintaining social distancing.

“Because we are at Covid level three, it gives us better access to the community, so we are going out with devices and Wi-fi for students who haven’t had access over the course of the lockdown so they can catch up with their work.

“I have actually been out [yesterday] to Opotiki, to Waimana and to Ruatoki to deliver devices to some of our whanau,” he said.

At Edgecumbe College, deputy principal Renee Otto said distance learning was going well, with all hard copy learning packs given to students.

“We have six students at school and three staff,” he said.

Trident High School principal Philip Gurney said his staff and students had been amazingly creative with the online courses.

“Our PE department has devised a lockdown five-kilometre challenge, to raise funds for the Salvation Army. Our tech staff have been delivering portfolios to students to work on.

“In the art classes, our art teacher painted a picture using food colouring, for students who were not able to access paints. Subjects have been devising activities that take our students away from the screen and focus on practical challenges – making music, creating website videos and completing activity challenges.”

Whakatane Intermediate School said fewer students had turned up this week than indicated, but the school has set up four bubbles, each with a team of teachers.

“Each learning bubble has their own classroom, toilet and outdoor space that is separate from the others,” principal Mike Webster said.

He said students at school were doing the same work that those doing distance learning at home.

“Students are being able to create experiences like class themed dress-up days for their online class meetings, sharing pieces of poetry and writing about their lockdown experiences, which have been very impressive pieces of work and allowing the chance for students to include their whanau with some of the class activities, like preparing items for Anzac Day commemorations,” he said.

Mr Webster said the school had provided families with printed learning booklets.

Apanui School attendance was 29 and 26 students over two days this week, while St Joseph’s Catholic School has four bubbles with 25 students in total. Allandale Primary School has similar numbers and says it has moved smoothly from alert level four to level three.

“We have 30 students booked in over the next two weeks. Our in-school bubbles have a teacher and a teacher aide and are completing a combination of our hard copy learning packs and online learning activities like every other student at Allandale School,” acting principal Adrianne McAllister said.

“We have provided each student with a bike to ride and their own playground area.”