School with digital strategy well placed to cope

Steve Hall
Steve Hall
Pupils at Wakatipu High School will struggle to find an excuse for late homework during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Frankton Flats co-educational school has taken its classes online for the month long lockdown period — something it was prepared for well before the arrival of Covid-19, principal Steve Hall said.

When shifting premises from central Queenstown in 2018, the 1070-pupil school began evolving its approach to teaching.

Each pupil was equipped with a laptop which they could use to follow lessons and resources online.

As a result, Mr Hall said the school’s transition into the lockdown period had been a somewhat small step.

"All we had to do was bring in the remote platform and work out how we were going to communicate with the remoteness with everybody spread and then put a programme together."

"We were pretty sure it was going to be when, not if, if the country went into a shutdown, so went spent last Friday [March 20] preparing for this."

Classes would run via various digital platforms including Google Meet and Classroom — apps which allowed pupils to communicate with not only their teacher, but their classmates as well.

"This lends itself perfectly to this kind of situation. Kids go on to this virtual classroom and they see the tasks depending on where they’re at, or what they’ve got to do, or what their choices are," Mr Hall said.

"All that kind of stuff is very much our bread and butter these days. It adapts really well to a situation like this."

Despite the possible distractions in homes, staff had so far reported a strong attendance.

"It feels like the kids are really engaged, I’m sure there’s a bit of a novelty element."

While the lockdown was currently set to last a month, Mr Hall was preparing his community for the possibility it would extend much longer.

"I said [to staff] that we should have in our minds and go forward as if the shutdown is going to last longer ... so we’re in a very sustainable mindset going forward. If you look at other countries that has to be a possibility.”

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