How Things Have Changed

April 01, 2020 at 4:36 PM

When we returned to school at the start of 2020, who would ever have imagined the turn of events before the end of the first term? Unseen to the eye, a virus has turned the world upside down, with New Zealand caught in its wake.

As we watched events unfold from afar, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before it reached our shores, our country has had the advantage of time to plan how we would respond, having seen and learnt from other parts of the world. 

In turn, Saint Kentigern had the advantage of time to put our Pandemic Plan into action, ensuring that by the time Alert Level 4 was called, and the country went into Lockdown, our schools were ready to roll out Distance Learning.

Dawn in New Zealand on Thursday 27 March was like no other in recent history, as the streets fell into silence. No Saint Kentigern students waited at bus stops, school bags packed, ready to be picked up and delivered to school. Instead, almost 3000 students, 240 teaching and 157 administration staff, set up from their home bubbles ready to pick up from where they left off earlier in the week, and it was ‘back to business,’ albeit in a very different setting.

Yes, we have all had to learn to do things differently. Our teaching staff now meet first thing in the morning on Microsoft Teams to connect and plan the day ahead. Already, our two Chaplains have started to deliver chapel services online and the College has delivered its first full school assembly this week, with a number of our student leaders providing video content. There are plans in place to keep House spirit alive with a new virtual House competition underway. 

The ‘Learning Lounge,’ once the opportunity for College staff to meet before school in the Goodfellow Centre for coffee, and to learn from each other, has now moved to a virtual space. Our Boys’ School, Girls’ School and Preschool staff also convene on a regular basis. Our administration and Trust Services staff, from accounts, to database, property, marketing and IT, are all active in their teams, keeping the business ticking over. IT, in particular, has a huge role to play in ensuring everyone can stay connected. The draw on their time to fine tune this has been enormous, and we thank them for their efforts as they constantly respond to changing circumstances.

But most important of all, the full focus remains on our students! 

Everything that goes on in the background is with our students in mind, so they can continue to learn - and stay connected to their place of learning - in this time of disruption. The decision for Saint Kentigern to retain the term dates and not close early for the school holidays, like the state schools, was to allow for continuity of learning, ensuring our distance programmes become well-embedded before the holiday break. This gives us the assurance that should the Lockdown run longer than expected, our students will be familiar with expectations and ready to start ‘Back to School from Home’ at the start of Term 2.

Since Lockdown began, our students from Preschool to Year 13 have been engaged in their daily learning programmes. We are grateful for the feedback received from both parents and students, much of it overwhelmingly positive. Like our students at home with their families, our teachers are also at home, with the added challenge of their own family dynamics within their ‘bubbles,’ as they continue to deliver their teaching programmes – from their kitchen, garage, bedroom, or wherever there is a place to perch! Our teaching staff are working hard to get the balance of schoolwork right for our students at all Year levels. This is a learning curve for all of us and we are doing everything within our capability to get it right.

As we all adapt to the change of circumstance, we are very aware of the difficulties and uncertainty for a number of our families as the Lockdown impacts on New Zealand’s economy. For some, this has meant a loss of income, adding layers of stress, and we keep you in our thoughts and prayers as you navigate these difficult times.

Saint Kentigern would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank all those within our own community who continue to work on the front line in essential services. At a time when the majority of the population has been instructed to stay home to limit the spread of the virus, there are many across the nation, including within our own community, who are potentially putting themselves at risk to protect, serve and provide for us. You have our grateful thanks for what you are doing now, and what you'll continue to do for us in the weeks ahead.

Covid-19 may have kept us apart physically, but it cannot break the social connections between us, nor can we let it break our spirit. 

Be kind, have hope and have faith. In the words of College Head Girl, Lulu Denholm, ‘We’ve got this.’

Fides Servanda Est


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