It is poignantly quiet at Apii Tematangarengare on Mitiaro.
There are no desk tops opening and slamming shut, no chairs scraping across the floors, or tooth brush fights because of not enough tooth paste.
Principal Chris Story unexpectedly felt emotional when the pupils were sent home on Monday and the doors locked for two weeks.
A special assembly was held in the morning to inform the students of the need to remain at home in order to keep them separated from each other in preparedness of the risk of the coronavirus Covid-19.
“Our students were sad and disappointed to be told they had to go home, stay home and stay away from their friends,” Story said.
“They students forward to school every day.”
Story made an effort to brighten up the woeful students saying, “in practicing the hygiene tips, social distancing, we can eventually beat this coronavirus, if it enters our paradise.”
He said “some kids smiled and cheered up, with the very young ones oblivious to what was actually happening and why.”
When the children left the premises, and the quietness descended, a moment of clarity and emotions struck him.
“I’ll not see their little faces noisily running all over the playground with so much energy, their sounds of laughter, screams of happiness; then there are moments when you hear cries of the little ones because they have either fallen down or older students having taken their toys away from them, and the screeching noise of chalk used on the blackboards…
“Here, we understand these are precautionary measures, however when the announcement was made, mixed feelings emerged – ‘yay, we are on a holiday, and then what is happening?’”
The island’s new nurse practitioner Toa Pole also delivered a hygiene and safety presentation to the students, along with each teacher offering words of encouragement and love.
“Kia orana tatou katoatoa i te aroa nui au ngangare o to tatou Atua mana i te rangi.
“To all our Pa Enua and Rarotonga schools, as we join hands, let us do our part diligently to show our support to the world that this is what we are doing; we are bringing back the sunshine once again into our homes and schools.
“Let us all remain safe and stay healthy, na te Atua te aroa.”