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Wednesday 29th April - Update from School

Wednesday 29th April - Update from School

Apr 29, 2020 1010 Views

Kia ora koutou - Dear Parents and Whanau,

I hope each and everyone of you are safe and well in your whanau bubbles. We have received very encouraging feedback from parents regarding the home learning plans and resources provided for our tamariki. I want to thank our amazing team of teachers, teacher aides and support staff for the thoughtful ways they have planned sessions for your children, communicated with parents and students and kept the school buildings and administration running smoothly.

As more businesses open and essential personnel continue with their work, not all families are able to keep students home. We acknowledge that learning from home can be great for whanau time as well as present a range of difficult challenges. Please talk to our teachers and support staff if you are finding things tricky and we will help where possible. During Alert Level 3, the school will be open to children who are not able to be supervised at home. Over the next couple of weeks we will have a small number of students in school. We also have a small number of staff on site to supervise the students. Student learning in school will be the same as the remote learning tasks for students learning from home.

Families of students who are attending school have been contacted separately with relevant attendance information. Any visitors to school are asked to be familiar with the Ministry’s ‘Lets keep everyone safe’ information. As Alert Level 3 is likely to continue for at least the next couple of weeks, we would still encourage families to follow the Ministry of Education’s advice for schools and ECEs that all children and young people who can stay at home, should stay at home. 

Under Alert Level 3 there will be no SKIDS before or after school care provision. The School Office will be closed, at least for the duration of Alert Level 3. Phone calls will be diverted to the office staff and emails will be answered.

Home learning links that might be of interests to parents and carers include the Ministry of Health backed Sparklers site. This is a fun wellbeing site with a range of activities. Additionally, the Ministry of Education’s Learning from Home site has plenty of ready to use resources for students and parents.

On behalf of all the School staff I do want to thank our students and their whanau bubbles for all the home learning efforts that are taking place. 

Nga mihi mahana,

Mark Ashcroft



Tuesday 21st April - School at Alert Level 3

Tuesday 21st April - School at Alert Level 3

Apr 21, 2020 916 Views

Kia ora koutou - Dear Parents and Whanau,

Following the COVID Alert Level changes and timelines announced by the Prime Minister on the 20th April, I am writing to inform you of what ‘Level 3’ will look like at Parua Bay School and to determine which children will be returning to school on Wednesday 29th April. 

The key message from the Ministry of Health is that we are still in a state of emergency and the best course of action for parents and carers is to keep their children at home and maintain distance learning wherever possible. Students and staff with underlying medical conditions should remain home.

For both students, whanau and staff, returning to school does raise a degree of transmission risk which we will seek to reduce through classroom bubbles, physical distancing, handwashing regimes and surface cleaning. Please do not send children to school who are sick, they will be sent home straight away - please also report any flu-like symptoms. 

Multiple bubbles of approximately 10 students each will be created. Physical segregation of bubbles plus staggered start, break, lunch and end of day times will be used to reduce interaction between student groups. Under Ministry of Education requirements, no playground equipment or PE equipment will be available to students during breaks as they constitute a transmission risk. Students will be asked to maintain a 2 metre safe distance from each other at break times and maintain a 1 metre distance in classrooms. Classroom furniture will be arranged to accommodate physical distancing as much as possible. Learning experiences of students that do attend school during Alert Level 3 will be on the whole a continuation of existing online or remote lessons and activities. 


We have received no indications that school buses will be operating. Due to staggered start and finish times, which we will notify you of as soon as possible, parents are advised to arrange their own transport to and from school independent of bus services. There will be no SKIDS after school service due to the risk of mixing bubbles.


Parents and carers are asked to communicate with the School Office via phone or email and avoid any unnecessary physical contact or meetings with staff. The Senior Leadership Team are planning for different attendance scenarios and bubbles. In order to do this we need you to complete the Google Form linked at the bottom of this letter by Thursday of this week at the latest. This will help us to make staffing decisions while also seeking to keep transmission risks to a minimum.

The teachers and support staff are keen to return to ‘normal’ schooling for your child when it is safe to do so. The change from Alert Level 4 to Level 3 suggests we still have to exercise a high degree of caution before the state of ‘normal’ schooling is reached.

I hope you are safe and well in your whanau bubbles and very much appreciate your completion of the linked form

Nga mihi, 

Mark Ashcroft


Tuesday 14th April - FREE online internet safety tool

Tuesday 14th April - FREE online internet safety tool

Apr 21, 2020 819 Views

Kia ora whanau,

We have received information from the Ministry of Education on this FREE online internet safety tool they have set up. We would encourage you to use it at home on your child's device.

Helping students stay safer online from home

As you know, children's online safety is important. At school, Network for Learning (N4L) helps keep students safe from the bad side of the internet. During lockdown, the students' place of learning shifts to their home. So N4L has worked out a way to help parents keep their children safely connected at home.
FREE N4L safety filter for all students
We've set up a safety filter that parents can set up on their child's learning devices from home. Just go to to find clear instructions on how to do this.
The free N4L safety filter (by global cyber-security leader, Akamai) blocks websites containing known cyber threats like phishing scams, malicious content and viruses, while also protecting children from content deemed the worst of the web (like adult sites).
It is an extension of one of the many safety and security services we have in place at schools and is a valuable layer of protection to help keep children safe online. Please remember that technology is not a silver bullet and the filter should be used in combination with Netsafe's online parent safety toolkit.

How does it work?
Once a child's device is set up, all internet search requests will go through the safety filter which checks if the website they are trying to visit is safe before allowing access. If it's a website that's known to be unsafe, then it will be blocked. The safety filter is applied to the child's device, so parents' devices are not affected. 

Any questions. please get in touch

Ka kite

Hazel Smith

Deputy Principal


"Kids will do well if they can"

......if they are not doing well, 

it's up to us as adults to figure 

out we can help them.

Thursday 9th April - Message for Parents and Whanau

Thursday 9th April - Message for Parents and Whanau

Apr 9, 2020 841 Views

Kia ora koutou - Dear Parents and Whanau, 

I trust you are all well within your bubbles and that your extended whanau are also coping with the opportunities and challenges of the current situation. The school ‘holidays’ officially come to an end next week with the first day of Term 2 and remote schooling beginning on Wednesday 15th April. 

In order to support families with learning expectations alongside your existing routines, we will be introducing the following times:

  • 10:30am to 11:30am ‘class’ session one.

  • 1:30pm to 2:30pm ‘class’ session two.

We are trialling the idea of two separate hour-long learning sessions. This will break up the lesson time and enable students and parents the chance to add variety or additional routines. Parents are encouraged to pursue authentic learning experiences at home depending on their situations and resources. 

These ‘class’ sessions will be times when your child will be expected to engage with the learning opportunities planned by their class teacher. Year 5-8 teachers will share learning directly with students using Google Classroom and Year 0-4 teachers will share learning with parents weekly using Google Slides. This will make use of hard copy materials already shared with you.

On the whole, class teachers will also be available to answer questions from parents and students between 10:30am and 11:30am each day and will continue to respond via email in a timely manner. Staff will not be available from 11:30am to 12:30pm as they will be participating in online meetings or related tasks. 

It is our intention to help parents avoid feeling overwhelmed with too much content from school, and instead to better gauge the needs of your child. Please contact your class teachers to provide feedback - they are trying to provide meaningful learning opportunities in unusual circumstances. Please also feel free to share successful learning experiences that you have created for your whanau - teachers may well be able to pass these ideas on. Although we have a wonderful group of teachers, we do not have a monopoly on creativity and are always looking to share great learning. 

We all anticipate a return to ‘normal’ schooling sooner rather than later. However, as we do not know when the Ministries of Health and Education will deem it safe for the lockdown to be reduced or removed, Parua Bay School will continue to provide remote teaching and learning. Remote learning on this scale is a relatively new space we are striving to make the most of, please be patient with us as we refine our provision for your tamariki. Thank you for all the great things you are doing to encourage learning.

Nga mihi mahana, 


Mark Ashcroft


Friday 3rd April - School Update 3rd April

Friday 3rd April - School Update 3rd April

Apr 3, 2020 902 Views

Kia ora koutou - Dear Parents and Whanau - I trust that after the first full week of lockdown and entering the second, your family and lockdown bubble are doing well. The following contains updated information from the Ministry of Education - the related links are well worth a check as they may provide useful information relating to your current circumstances. Firstly however, a poignant quote from Perry Rush, New Zealand Principals' Association Chair:

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking this is business as usual for teaching and learning albeit from home rather than school. To do so would be to miss the significance of our current reality. We are experiencing an international health crisis of a magnitude unheralded in our lifetimes. It has the potential to change the way we live forever. Focusing on keeping teaching and learning going as it always has, is the wrong approach. To do so would be to miss understanding the emotional and psychological impact of this crisis on people. 

Some families are experiencing loss of employment; many are experiencing the stress of the whole family being underfoot day after day; and most are simply struggling with the challenge of a changed world of isolation and uncertainty. Our job at this time is to infuse any home learning plan with a deep sense of humanity. (Perry Rush, Principal Matters, Issue 10, 2nd April 2020)

I also thought the opening paragraph from the latest Ministry of Education update (2nd April) was relevant:

… we encourage you to take some time away from the constant news cycle and social media postings about the virus. However, balance becomes even more important in times such as these. It’s important to give our minds and bodies what they need to stay healthy – good food, plenty of sleep, fun, exercise, mindfulness, music, relaxation, reading, nature, laughter, space, gratitude – whatever works for you (

Key items in this extract include

  • Keeping online learning safe
  • Home learning packs
  • Term two dates
  • Wellbeing information
  • Welfare
  • Childcare for Essential Workers
  • Connectivity and Data Caps

Keeping on line safe

 Parents, caregivers and whānau may want to discuss internet safety with their children - of all ages. We recommend that they should agree with their children what they can do online including sites they can visit and appropriate behaviours including:

· reviewing and approving games and apps before they are downloaded

· reviewing privacy settings of sites and applications

· checking children’s profiles and what they are posting online

· check the sites your child is accessing

· reminding children that anything that is posted online will be permanently on the internet

· taking the time to understand what sites they are visiting and who they are talking with and check in regularly

· some social media sites have age restrictions to join, check these before letting your child use them or join them

· monitoring a child’s use of the internet and consider having them use it in an open, common area of the house

· making sure your children know to report any activity they don’t feel comfortable with to parents and caregivers straight away.

There is a unique opportunity during the lockdown of families going out together, albeit it close to home, but if your child is going out on their own it’s still important to check where they are going.

· Netsafe continues to be available to provide you and your parent and caregiver community with support for online safety. They have information for parents and caregivers and have pulled together their top tips for online safety during the lockdown.  To report an incident To Netsafe -

· If you think a child in your care is the victim of online exploitation or abuse, report it to Police - if you or a child are in danger or a crime is being committed, call 111 or visit your nearest Police Station immediately.


Sending out packs to homes
Please remember that during a lockdown there is to be no direct contact with people outside your household (bubble).  Doing so creates risk of spreading COVID-19, including through putting together and delivering parcels. Staying home keeps people safe.
You will also be aware you and your staff are not permitted to go onto the school sites to collect resources for distribution.

Term two

The start date of term two has moved to Wednesday 15 April. Currently the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 is due to remain in place until Thursday 23 April. Schools and kura will open for instruction from 15 April with instruction taking place remotely.


Wellbeing information updated including new tip sheets for families, caregivers and whānau

We have slightly updated the wellbeing information on our website to better reflect how the COVID-19 response has changed over the last weeks. Included in there are three new tip sheets for parents, caregivers and teachers:

· Tips for teachers, parents and caregivers – supporting toddlers

· Tips for teachers, parents and caregivers – supporting children

· Tips for teachers, parents and caregivers – supporting young people

If you know someone who might be struggling in your school or early learning service community, there are a large range of supports in place that may be able to assist including:

· Mental wellbeing

· Supporting children and young people at home

· Managing self-isolation

· Care options for children of essential workers

· Financial support for employers and employees

· Staying safe online

· Preventing harm from bullying

· Family harm

· Responding to discrimination – through the Human Rights Commission

· Accessing healthcare

· For people vulnerable to COVID-19

Information in languages other than English:


· Office of Ethnic Communities


If you are aware there are people in your community who cannot get access to essential goods such as food, they can contact the local Emergency Coordination Centres (ECC), part of Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Groups. These groups coordinate the regional multi-agency response and provide a range of support activities.  This is intended for people who don’t have any other options available to them and operates 7 days a week from 7am to 7pm -  
You can also email the following people/contacts:

· Northland -

More providers offer childcare options for essential workers

Parents who are essential workers can get additional childcare support if needed during the lockdown. The Government has increased the range of national home-based providers, with some offering care for children aged 0-14, and others ages 5-14. Our website has more details and will be updated as new providers are identified - Home-based care options for children aged 0-14 of essential workers.

Improving internet connectivity
Our IT team has put together some tips for improved connectivity at home.
For home internet connections
It is important to eliminate performance/speed issues with the home wifi setup first, rather than assuming there is an issue with the connection from the house to the internet. To check this:

· Run a speed test at to establish a baseline, and repeat after making any change below to check for improvement

· Power off home router every morning, leave off for 30 secs before powering back on (don’t press the reset button this will reset the device settings!)

· Turn off, or disable Wi-Fi on, unused devices where possible, especially older devices that run at slower Wi-Fi speeds

· Decrease the physical distance between your device and the Wi-Fi router, line of sight is best

· Use an Ethernet cable on devices where possible, to reduce Wi-Fi load (especially smart TVs, gaming consoles) – plug these into a spare LAN port on your router

Data Allowance/Cap issues

· Check you are not already on an uncapped data plan as previously communicated in the bulletin (applies to Spark, Vodafone, Vocus/Slingshot, and 2Degrees, Trustpower). If unsure contact your provider

· Some providers have made uncapped offers to rural and remote customers for off peak (night time hours only). Consider shifting non time critical downloads such as computer patching to these time periods

· Check what options are available for the address at and if not on the cheapest/best option suggest changing provider as an option (this is covered as an essential service)

In some remote areas speed of connection AND the amount of data is a hard technical constraint based on the capacity of the technology used such as satellite or “point to point” wireless.

· As a very rough indicator if it requires an externally mounted antenna or dish it probably falls into this category

· If this is the situation for a teacher delivering distance learning, consider non-digital alternatives in the short term

 For mobile phone connections

· The data plan on mobile phones is NOT covered by the removal of data caps

· Individual data plans vary significantly – high data usage on some plans over the allowance is very expensive

· For personally owed phones consider changing to a different plan that better reflects new usage patterns. Often this can be done at no/little additional cost

· Use the app provided by your mobile phone supplier to track usage

· “Hot spotting” from a mobile phone is less efficient than using home Wi-Fi (aerials are smaller) so this will be slower

· If using for voice calls and running out of minutes consider alternatives where possible such us email/messaging systems.

As a school team, we hope you find the above information useful during this lockdown period.

Ngā mihi

Mark Ashcroft