Covid-19: school bubbles make the most of a unique locking experience

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RNZ may have found one of the biggest bubbles in the country – Whanganui Collegiate School, which kept nearly 100 students and staff in place during the lockdown.

Members of the Solway Girls College bubble.
Photo: Provided

At least 19 boarding schools are in the same position and will remain in these unique school bubbles throughout Alert Level 3.

Whanganui Collegiate School principal Wayne Brown said the school, which had on-site accommodation for staff and their families, made the most of its unique location.

“We have our online learning that we do, we have afternoon activities, we make sure we do fitness, we have games, we have downtime opportunities, there are movies there. night, and we obviously have dining for dinner, ”he said.

“We have a great opportunity to connect with each other, there is fun, there is space and we are very lucky.”

He felt that it was probably one of the biggest bubbles in the country and that the decision to allow some students to stay was necessary.

“Other than probably the nursing homes, hospitals and prisons, I really think we would probably be up there for one of the biggest bubbles, last year and this year, in the country,” he said. -he declares.

“For our national students, according to the directives of the ministry, they had to go home. The only ones that we have kept here are the students who do not have the possibility to return home and these are the students who live abroad. . “

The principal of Solway Girls College in Masterton, Janine Tupaea, has temporarily left her home to help boarding staff look after the remaining 10 students.

She said it was the right decision when the country quickly moved into containment.

“From sitting there and suddenly hearing that we were going into lockdown that night, my immediate thought turned to our students in boarding school, and I knew they would hear this news worrying them.

Whanganui College

Whanganui College College
Photo: Provided

“So I quickly put on some work clothes, got back to school and let the students, families and the boarding team know that I was on my way home. school and that I would meet all the students in the dining room to reassure them that we would keep a bubble open so that all the students were taken care of and that none of the families had to worry ”, a- she declared.

“I met the girls in the dining room and just reassured them that no matter what, we would take care of them.

“I had to make decisions on the spot, that’s why I thought to myself and my kids will move in here, we’ll take care of you.”

From nine to three, students spend their day taking online classes, and at the end of the week, they host a Zoom assembly live from the school hall.

It was Tupaea’s idea to do things a little differently at last Friday’s assembly by asking students to host a surprise flash mob for their friends watching online.

“So I started assembling as I normally would and said we had a special price to start assembling and that would be a price for an exceptional scholar from our Solway bubble.

“I said, ‘the recipient is Miss Fiu’ and then we put her in the spotlight with the camera as she approached to receive the award and then we all burst into a flash mob,” she declared.

Solway Girls College boarding supervisor Sela Emily Fiu-Poufa said that while she missed her family and the comforts of her own bed, there was nowhere else she would rather be.

“It’s different and I miss home, but it’s also home,” she said.

“In the hostel, we try to make life as warm as possible for them, a home away from home. It’s a huge responsibility but it’s really rewarding because you can see the growth of these girls. “

Fiu-Poufa took care of helping with activities such as movie nights, campfires and treasure hunts.

She also plays in the school bubble’s Jump Jam video, which they recently posted on their Facebook page.

The school is urging other boarding schools who pass the lockdown together to post their own Jump Jam video as a friendly challenge.

As the flash mobs and game nights continue, the arrival of level three has also given these Masterton students something to smile about.

Manager Janine Tupaea has promised them a series of take-out meals to celebrate.


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