Parent Communication start of Term 2 2020

13 April 2020
Dear Parents
COVID – 19 has presented us with a new challenge. We are embracing this as an opportunity to rethink how we best deliver learning virtually, to ensure as much continuity as possible. We very much appreciate your support as we work through this time together.

You will have heard about the recent information regarding the return to school as stated by the Minister of Education during Q&A on Sunday morning. Schools received a communication regarding the options that might be put in place to enable that to happen. I will provide information as soon as we are notified of any change to the Alert Level and how this will impact the return to school process.

In the meantime, our key focus is to support student wellbeing by supporting student engagement in learning and being part of a community of learners, developing learning routines that successfully engage students at home. This will look differently than ‘usual’ as we will not be able to provide the full curriculum opportunities found in face to face learning.

Students need some structure and expectations around their learning once the new term commences. With this in mind, we intend that our students connect with the online learning provided by teachers in SchoolTalk and we will be available to deliver support on a number of platforms including SchoolTalk, Google Meet and Class Dojo depending on your child’s team.

As you will be aware the health and wellbeing of the staff is also a key consideration for the school. Your understanding in this is appreciated as staff have children at home and will need to care for others in their bubble too.

For our students Term 2 will start on Wednesday 15 April at 9.00am.

The purpose of this communication is to outline Kohimarama School learning online while Alert Level 4 isolation continues. We will keep this as straightforward as possible; SchoolTalk will be our go-to place for learning. We are well placed to continue distance learning for your children.

Our Approach
Our approach will embrace two key ways of sharing and engaging in continued learning:
1. SchoolTalk
2. Connection platforms such as Google Meet and chat, Class Dojo and email.

SchoolTalk – making teaching visible
SchoolTalk ( ) will continue to be our go-to place for learning. If you have any trouble accessing SchoolTalk please email
● If you have not recently logged into SchoolTalk we encourage you to do so. If you do not have access, please email We will work through requests as efficiently as possible. Please be patient.
● You may like to view some online tutorials, which show how you can access features within SchoolTalk and even comment on your child’s learning. To access the videos, login to SchoolTalk and click the help button in the left side menu.
Action Point: Make sure you can assess SchoolTalk

Our teaching teams are using a range of Collaboration Tools/ Connection Platforms as we continue the learning during term 2. These include the following;
Google Meet – connecting with students in real time – Senior School
● This functionality will ensure some virtual face-to-face learning continues, particularly in years 4 – 8.
● Google Meet meeting codes will be communicated for your child to access.
● Teachers will be able to record Google Meet so learners can re-watch at a later time.
● If you have never joined a Google Meet before, watch this clip to learn.

We would recommend learning takes place in a central location at home; somewhere visible where it is easy to support and supervise when children get stuck. This is also a useful strategy to help monitor device use and screen time. Having pens and paper to hand will also be helpful. Headphones might also be useful.

It is a good idea to remind your children about protocols for participating in Google Meet and being Cybersmart.

Google Chat
Our Google Chat (sometimes referred to as Hangouts) enables communication with students via direct messages and group conversations. Chat helps us to collaborate easily and efficiently.

This is used to support the learning by connecting class members and teachers together.

Class Dojo
ClassDojo is a school communication platform that teachers, students, and families use everyday to continue to develop our close-knit learning community by sharing what’s being learned through photos, videos, and messages. A number of our junior classes use this communication tool.

Google Apps Tutorials
Teachers use various Google Apps, such as Google Docs, and Google Slides to design learning within SchoolTalk. If you are not already familiar with these tools, please make yourself aware of how to use them. These training modules should help:
Google Drive
Google Slides
Google Docs
Students in Year 4-8 should also be able to help you with these tools, as they are familiar with many of them already.
In time, there will be additional information about other digital tools you can use to support your child at home.

The school device of choice is the Chromebook.

The school made contact with the community before Level 4 lockdown to offer school devices to families who needed one. A number took up this offer. Our survey information put out last week identified those who still may not have a device. The Ministry of Education (MOE) are currently working towards schools being able to access our onsite devices and distribute these as appropriate. If you do not have access to a device please contact me as soon as possible as we will have a one time access to our school devices to distribute as needed.
Please email me

What else are we doing?
Prior to lockdown, the school has shared this resource to help you into SchoolTalk

Learning design across the year groups
Develop schedules and routines : Humans are creatures of habit and routines. Indeed, research shows our sensitivity to regularities in our everyday lives is present very early in life. When we can reliably predict what’s going to happen next, our learning is enhanced and our anxiety levels remain in check. This is the same for adults and children alike. As such, maintaining regular routines as best we can is one way we can feel in control of an otherwise largely uncontrollable situation. Before Wednesday 15th April; Get together with your family and determine a loose schedule of how the learning will go. Ensure you include time for learning (School planning and activities 9am – 12.00 noon each school day) self-care, chores, relaxation and most important, fun! Such as engaging together in some structured tasks (for example, drawing, colouring, crafts, etc) will help fuel their developing mind. As parents, it’s important you do what you can to support your child’s learning environment. While everyone’s learning habits are different, learning first thing in the morning might be the best way to get the day on track.

A typical learning timetable in lockdown will need to balance school learning activities, home activities such as chores, break times, and the aesthetic such as games inside and outside, art activities, fun family time.

This might involve the following;
8.00 – 9.00am Breakfast, hygiene, chores, set up for learning
9.00 -12.00midday School learning via SchoolTalk This will also include opportunities for connection with teachers. Each team will outline this for you.
12.00 – 1.00pm Lunch and play
1.00 – 3.00pm Family run activities at home, Sports and physical activity, art activities and investigation/exploration activities
4.00 – 6.00pm Family time, help with dinner preparation etc.

Parents, you are not expected to replace your child’s teacher. These supports are intended to supplement and enable the learning programmes that are planned by the school.

Home learning television
Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV, on TVNZ, which will run from 9am to 3pm on school days on TVNZ 2+1 and Sky channel 502. Some lessons will also be available on TVNZ On Demand.

There will be content for parents for those aged 5 to 15 years of age that will cover a broad curriculum that includes movement, music, physical education, wellbeing, numeracy, literacy and science through an integrated approach to curriculum. There’s already a lot of good
education video content available, and the Ministry will be working with experts and educators to refine and further develop it.

The Ministry of Education has launched Learning from home and Ki te Ao Mārama, two new websites to support learners and parents so that learning for children and young people can continue at home. Click on the links below:

Learning from Home
Ki te Ao Mārama

The link below provides ideas from the Ministry of Education on how students can continue to be involved in learning experiences at home. They have been organized into specific year levels. Please Note: Some activities are not recommended at this time due to the need for social distancing.
Ideas to help with reading, writing and maths.

I would like to encourage our parents, caregivers and whānau to discuss internet safety with your children – before getting your child to use a device. You should agree with your children what they can do online including sites they can visit and appropriate behaviours including:
● Ensuring that you have signed up for Family Zone the school communities online safety tool.
● reviewing and approving games and apps
● reviewing privacy settings of sites and applications
● checking children’s profiles and what they are posting online
● check the sites your child is accessing
● remind your children that anything that is posted online will be permanently on the internet
● taking the time to understand what sites they are visiting (outside what they have been directed to learn) 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 even 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 you or any adult at home that they feel safe with straight away.
Netsafe continues to be available to provide our 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.

If we all work together to make sure children are safe online, we can make the internet a great tool for our students.

Watch out for information coming from each team in the school. This will give further detail on the learning planned during this time in lockdown.

Thank you for your help and support during this unprecedented change in learning, leading to some creative and stressful times ahead.

Kind regards
Paul Engles