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Home schooling suits some

Giving teachers some breathing space with one less little person in class was one of the reasons Mangapapa mum Fleur Paenga did not send her daughter back to school this week.

Ms Paenga is one of more than 80 parents in Tairawhiti who have continued to home-school their children as the country eases back into “regular life” under Alert Level 2.

Also, Lily is a hugger, said Ms Paenga with a smile.

“Teaching is hard enough without having to put in Covid-19 safety practices.

“We wanted to support the school during this first week, the new way of learning with social distancing, washing hands, sanitising hands and protocols.”

Mrs Paenga said she had 100 percent confidence in the school and their health and safety practises they had been implemented and just wanted to be helpful.

Her daughter Lily also had adults who could continue to support her at home, and the school still had online learning available.

Lily, Year 5 at Mangapapa School, said she missed her friends but there were Zoom catch-ups. Plus this week she wrote them letters.

Another Mangapapa mum Stacie Swanson said she had been sending her two daughters back to school for only half-days.

This was to ease them back and had nothing to do with concern about Covid-19, Mrs Swanson said.

“It was more for the girls. They had enjoyed being home-schooled so much they asked if it could continue.

“But I said no because I am not made to be a teacher, eh.”

Mrs Swanson works from home anyway and said lockdown had been a really bonding time with her children,

“I pick my kids up at 1pm at the moment, so it means they can do their afternoon activities like PE and arts and crafts at home.

“Mangapapa staff and the principal have been really supportive about how I choose to do this and the decision that I have made.

“They did not make me feel bad but told me, ‘you do what's best for you and we will support you'.

“I am going to see how it goes for the first two weeks for the kids and their learning.”

Mangapapa School principal Paul Sadler said the roll was operating at around 91 percent, which equated to 41 learners (MKids) being away.

“We had more MKids attend on Tuesday than Monday and would expect to have a higher percentage next week.”

Central School reported their roll was at 94 percent capacity.

Cobham School principal Gina Holmes said they had 58 percent attendance at the start of the week, with 66 percent on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We have varying reasons for tamariki not attending school — whanau are anxious around a return to kura, some of our tamariki have compromised health, some have moved out of the district or to a different kura, some are unwell.”

Mrs Holmes said all staff had returned.

“It has been absolutely wonderful to be back at kura. We are a little Cobham whanau so not being able to see our tamariki during Alert Level 4 was sad. We missed them.

“Alert Level 3 was great. We had three tamariki coming to kura as their whanau are essential workers and we were able to get out to the whanau homes to deliver lunches.

“The reconnection was awesome. Our whanau is reunited.”

Mrs Holmes said even though it was only day five of school being re-opened under Alert Level 2, they were already seeing a calm across the kura.

“Our tamariki are enthusiastic in their learning. Our kaiako are happy and focussed.

GIVING TEACHERS SOME SPACE: Lily Donnelly, 9, with her mum Fleur Paenga at the dining table as they continue Lily's home learnng this week PIcture by Rebecca Grunwell
First Day Back