Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whangārei student misses out on school because of Covid-19 lockdown alert level changes

One student has missed out on a month of education and says it will feel strange to be back in school now.

Jayden Fisher Robinson was living at his parents’ house on Great Barrier Island and resumed going to his classes last week, following the Labour weekend.

Robinson left the Whangārei Boys’ High School boarding facility on August 18 after New Zealand was moved to alert level 4 lockdown on August 17.

The Year 10 student’s mum Casey Fisher said there was online learning available, but not so much anymore, since Northland moved into alert level 2 on September 8.

“The school is conducting classes as usual but he hasn’t been able to go back. Once the school went into normal in-class learning, there was not so much he could learn from online material.

“Also, we live rurally and do not have a good internet connection. It has been quite challenging.”

WBHS principal Karen Gilbert-Smith said the online material was always in place since the region moved to alert 3 and 4 lockdowns.

“Our focus is on face-to-face learning, but a lot of our teachers have worked really hard and provided material through google classes so that students who are still not able to be back can continue to access it.”

Fisher said they did “as much as they could, handed in a few assignments, but definitely, it was very different from real classes.

“We asked the school whether they could provide some extra online classes, but it is very difficult when it is specifically for one student, and I understand that. They helped in the best possible way but it still wouldn’t be parallel to what his classmates are learning.”

The Ministry of Health approved Robinson travelling back to Whangārei, provided Northland had not moved back to alert level 3.

However, because it was so close to school holidays, it suggested he waited until after the holidays, Fisher said.

“The ministry did not want people moving back and forth over the lockdown period.”

Robinson said the lockdown felt “strange and lonely”.

His mum said he had been a great help at home and it was “lovely” to have him for the lockdown, but “it just didn’t feel right, as he was missing out on school learning.

“All his boarding mates left the night the lockdown was announced (August 17) but he couldn’t because he had to take a flight to come here. So, he stayed the night at the hostel, completely alone.

“It has been kind of a dramatic change for him.”

Robinson was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and said it was hard going back to school.

“I am not nervous; it just feels strange.

“I am excited and looking forward to seeing my classmates, friends, and teachers.”

Carruth director of boarding Susan Dawson said three students had not returned to the facility since the region was moved to level 4 lockdown in August.

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