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A Matariki Concert was hosted by Waihī College and organised by Waihī Beach School last month. Photo: SUPPLIED

Covid, winter ills impact Waihī College

Winter ills and chills, coupled with a “surge” in Covid-19 infections, has seen Waihī College without 25 of its staff in recent weeks.
As of July 1, the Hauraki district was the fifth-highest in the Waikato for active Covid-19 cases, with 126. This was behind Thames-Coromandel’s 278 cases.
In a letter to the school community on June 28, principal Alistair Cochrane said a Covid-19 surge was again rolling through New Zealand and Waihī.
“Up until now, we have been extremely fortunate that only limited numbers of staff have been affected and we have been able to keep the school open for face-to-face teaching,” he said.
However, with staff isolating at home, and the exhaustion of the school’s access to relief teachers, its Year 12 and 13 students were rostered home on Thursday, June 30, while all Year 10 pupils were rostered home on Friday, July 1.
In a second letter, Mr Cochrane said winter chills were also making an impact, and all Year 11 students were rostered home on Monday, July 4.
Mr Cochrane told The Profile the latest surge had a “significant effect” on the college.
“We currently have over 25 staff away from school at the moment, with 16 directly affected by Covid and the rest with other winter ills (flu/gastro).
“We have needed to roster year level groups of students home so we can have face-to-face teaching.”
All teachers have an online programme for those students who have had to be rostered home, he said. “[We’re] not sure how long this surge is going to last, but we will endeavour to have the school open at every possible opportunity.”
Back in May, the college held a ‘Get Back’ week aimed at encouraging students to return to school following the disruption of Covid-19. It saw positive outcomes, with attendance numbers improving “significantly”.
In term one, the college had a low of 45 per cent attendance, a high of 71 per cent, and an average of 63.5 per cent.
At the start of term two, following Get Back week, there was an average of 76 per cent, with each day having between 69 per cent to 80.4 per cent attendance.
However, the recent surge had seen 74 staff and students affected by Covid-19, with 44 being positive cases and 30 being household contacts.
“We are endeavouring to keep the school as normal as possible,” Mr Cochrane said.
“Sports, trips and out of class activities have been proceeding, although some have been dramatically influenced.
“One of the highlights has been the collaborative ‘Matariki Hangi’ project, with three teachers from different learning areas (mathematics, food technology, Māori) planning together the learning around the production of a hangi to celebrate Matariki.
“It is fantastic to see the connections students are making and bringing the learning to life with an authentic learning experience focused upon local tikanga,” he said.
“Another of the highlights has been the annual Matariki Concert hosted by Waihī College but organised by Waihī Beach School, with many of the local school and pre-schools participating in a community display of Kapa Haka.”