Mangaia School students practise the wearing of masks. PHOTO: ANASEINI POKINO/22021121
The 2022 academic year started this week with a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the future of the school term from the threat of Covid-19 making its way into the country.
the exception of Aitutaki’s Araura College and primary schools, all other
schools in the Pa Enua (and Rarotonga) started their first term back in the
classrooms on Monday this week.
The delay of the opening for Aitutaki schools was to allow eligible five to 11 year olds to receive their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Aitutaki students started their first term of the 2022 academic year on Thursday.
Principal of Araura College, Gaylyn Lockington says since school started on Thursday, there wasn’t a 100 per cent attendance from students.
Despite that, the college got off on a good start and
welcomed seven new students.
“It was such a lovely feeling to see the beautiful
smiling faces of our children and hear their beautiful singing to start the day
and year off,” says Lockington.
“We are looking forward to an awesome year regardless
of what is happening around the world. We are a resilient team and ready to
‘ride the waves’ that 2022 will bring with it. E ara e kimi.”
In preparation for 2022, Mangaia School has a positive
outlook and is making headways to ensuring safety remains a priority.
School principal Michael Papatua says: “We see students arming up with safety masks and sanitation practices – a must for our students, and the prevention and procedures we are putting in place against Covid-19 is our utmost priority.”
The teacher only days have been primarily focused on
establishing a system that supports a positive loving environment while at the
same time aligning with the Ministry of Health guidelines and framework.
Students have been eager to start school, says
“I couldn’t wait to come to school, so I don’t have to
keep going inland and plant more taro,” says a Year 11 student.
For the next two weeks, new sanitation and hygiene
etiquette will be closely monitored in the classrooms.
Although, their roll number has declined to 137
students, Papatua is confident and anticipates another great year of learning at
“We have a positive attitude and want to keep
persevering and reaching greater heights in these unprecedented times,” says
The Tematangarengare School on the island of Mitiaro has a roll number of 39 children from Early Childhood Education (ECE) to Year 10 in four classrooms (ECE, Grade 1-3, Grades 4 - 6, Form 1 - 4). This year’s roll number is slightly higher than last year’s number of 34.
Principal Christopher Story says classroom activities have started back as usual and the students are happy to be back at school.
Tematangarengare School currently has an ECE training
teacher and two inclusive education teachers.
northern island of Penrhyn has started the year with a roll number of 70
students – Omoka School has 54 students registered and Tetautua 16.
Between the two schools, there are 10 staff (seven
teachers and teacher aides), a secretary and a groundsman for each of the
Principal Apii Napa expressed that the students were
happy to be back at school and are looking forward to the rest of the year.
On Manihiki, Apii Ruamanu has 42 students and Apii Tukao
24. Principal of the schools, Anna Rauru said they had a combined shared picnic
lunch yesterday and village elder Papa Vaianu Napara was guest speaker at one
of the Maori classes this week.
Niua School on the island of Pukapuka closed early at
midday on the first day of school due to a power cut on the island.
The new principal of Niua School Poti Maeva and his family arrived to the island last month.
After traditional activities on the island in the past
few weeks, a school picnic was also planned yesterday to celebrate the
beginning of the first term.
The new Te Marae Ora Ministerial Order that was issued
on January 25 states that “masks” are not compulsory for students at school,
however, it is compulsory for anyone 18 years and older (including teachers,
parents and visitors) to wear masks on school grounds. However teachers will
not be required to wear masks while they teach.
Masks are compulsory to wear on buses and visitors to
schools must first sign in at the main office wearing their masks and that no
one is permitted to go directly to the classroom.