Newsletter 5 May 2020

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st michaels logo.jpgSt Michael's School 
Community Newsletter
76 Lisa Crescent, Rotorua       Ph: (07) 3481 362
Principal's Message Week 4, Term 2 - 2020
Kia ora to our St Michael's families,
Boy! am I happy to be in Alert Level 3? I have found the juggle particularly difficult as a full time working mother of three school aged children. I have to admit that my imaginings of blissfully homeschooling my three well behaved and compliant children while baking bread and working a flexible work day during Alert Level 4 was completely shattered the first week into lock down.  I quickly discovered my children weren't as compliant as I had imagined them to be, I was unable to source flour to even bake bread and found the professional demands from work were far less flexible than I had anticipated. I have welcomed this tiny sense of personal normalcy.  I have  missed my colleagues terribly and the great vibe we had going this year before Covid-19. Seeing the children who have returned beaming with happiness to see their teachers, their peers and myself made me bouncier, more energised and ready to go.
I have found attending the online Masses by Bishop Steve to be an hour's reprieve from the feelings of uncertainty and pressure this pandemic has caused. I have experienced a greater depth of comfort from my daily prayer. Everyone has walked a very unique journey during this time. We have endeavored as a school team to be highly sensitive to your needs. Carefully ensuring we have not provided too much pressure. Thank you for the warm emails of appreciation that have been sent our way. On behalf our staff, thank you for your patience, consideration and communication as we have grappled with circumstances we could never have predicted nor truly been adequately prepared for. Our hope is that as we move down the Alert levels towards the hope of a more "normal" and familiar existence that we bring with us rejuvenated and positive partnerships with one another. We remember that human connection, love and kindness are what really matters but above all we thank God for continuing to support our Nation's safe passage through this crisis.
The move from Alert Level 4 to Level 3 has been exciting in many respects for our staff as we experience a little more freedom, but it has also presented families with some challenges. We realize, too, that there are factors beyond these that are also hindering some families from returning to life as we knew it.  If there are things that we can assist with, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email: 
I wish to bring to your attention the information regarding impending board of trustee elections (information below) and remind our community about the information I shared in a previous newsletter regarding the skills we are keen on finding. We have an opportunity through considerate community nominations  to add diversity to the representation of specific community groups on our Board. 
Through careful community data analysis we have discovered certain groups are under represented at a governance level. If you recognise someone in our school community who may be able to give a voice to these groups of students and their families I encourage you to consider nominating them. Of course you do not HAVE to identify as being an ambassador for the groups below. Every parent at St Michael's is welcome to consider how they might support our school through giving service, loyalty and professionalism to the school's effective governance.
Groups currently under represented at a school governance level
1) Children who require adaptations, modifications or specific supports to access the curriculum due to mental, social, physical, behavioral or cognitive challenges. (We call this special education)
2) Children living with significant financial or resourcing hardship
3) Asian, Indian and Pacific of ethnic origin
I wish you all peace, love and care as we continue to walk this journey together. 
In Faith and fellowship,
Kristina Crouch
What Level 3 has looked like at St Michael's School

The Government decided that we would move into Alert Level 3 on Tuesday 28th April. This meant that we opened to receive some students from the 29th April 2020. These are students who had no one else to look after them due to their parents returning to onsite work.

The key message for you still is that if you can, you should keep your child at home. You should only physically send your child to school if you need to. If your child has a health condition that means they are at a greater risk of a severe illness, you must continue to keep them at home. If your child is sick, please also ensure that you keep them at home. This is the same message that has been given to staff, from the Government, and therefore some of our teachers have not been back at school for Alert Level 3. The Prime Minister was very clear in her message ‘If you can keep your children at home, do so’.

In order to ensure the safety of those children and staff who do come to school, we have been operating with strict enforcement of all health and safety measures. Alert Level 3 guidelines state that schools have to have staggered entry into school to minimise gatherings of students and parents. There are also be separate times for breaks outside.

Parents at Alert Level 3 are currently not allowed into the school grounds and the school office will be physically closed to visitors unless by prior arrangement. You will need to ring or email us. All surfaces are disinfected at the end of each day and every classroom has Hand Sanitiser available. Physical distancing will be 2 metres outside and 1 metre inside.

School Bubbles can be no bigger than 10, so some children are not necessarily with their usual teacher. Siblings for example share the same bubble. Also, we have several staff who cannot be at school during Alert Level 3. ‘Contact tracing registers' have been setup as to which children are in which teaching spaces, and records of who they have been in contact with must be kept if there are any changes.

We have very strict measures in place regarding any visitors to the school these visits are also carefully recorded and the visitor's movements within the school are documented.


Many families are struggling with the financial impacts of the pandemic, due to loss of income. The Catholic Bishops Conference have released a statement to families of Catholic schools who are encountering such challenges. You will find the statement attached with this newsletter. If your family has been financially impacted and you find yourself in need of support to be able to meet Attendance Dues obligations, please contact me confidentially to make arrangements. I am available via telephone 0273484128 from Monday to Friday between 9am and 3pm or by email. 
Teaching and Learning at Alert Level 3

While we have very few students who are currently attending school at Alert Level 3, it is still very important to us that we continue to offer access to learning via our home learning platform Seesaw. Yesterday a parent voice survey was sent via the school app to all families encouraging them to give our team a sense of what you are happy with as well as provide a forum for you to share insights and feedback specific to your own family situation. If you did not receive this alert. You can find it at the following LINK.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of our kaiako and support staff. We have a number of staff who have returned to school to support our tamariki who have returned. They are all working hard to keep the distance learning going from school and provide a positive, caring, safe and enjoyable environment in the class bubbles. All the staff who are working from home are also working hard to support the kaiako at school and keep the distance learning programmes running smoothly. The staff continue to work collaboratively and positively to support all our tamariki. Just a reminder that those tamariki who have returned to school have done so because their caregiver/s have had to return to work. Depending on what call the government makes regarding Alert Level 3 on Monday May 11, we will be either be continuing in Alert Level 3 or possibly moving to Alert Level 2. If we remain in Alert Level 3, and you need to return to work, please contact us at least one school day prior as we need time to re-organise the school bubbles. You can email me at

 If there is a move to Alert Level 2, we will be re-organising how we operate following further guidance from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. 

Regarding the devices or packs that have been promised to us from the Ministry for those who need them, I continue to contact the Ministry as they don’t seem to have arrived. If you do happen to receive a Ministry Pack or device please do let me know.


 We want to cushion the students’ return to school. We know that some students will have made academic gains during the lock down, and there may also be  those who have regressed.  This is much the same as what we witness when the children return from their Summer holidays, but it is important that - to the best of our ability, we hit the ground running when we return to school in the near future.   

What About ...?

  • T2 Written Academic Reports

  • Your child's current learning levels have been regularly communicated with you via Seesaw. Years 1-4 have received detailed records of learning. Our staff have worked tirelessly to provide specific feedback to your child during this time. Normally our teachers would be compiling their assessment data, analysing it and preparing a comprehensive midway summary of how your child is tracking academically. This year has not been normal. Therefore our usual practice of being able to carefully pinpoint where your child is currently performing has been in many instances impossible to determine.

  • Our first priority is to the Health and Safety of our staff and students. This includes ensuring that children return and are supported to reconnect safely with friends and teachers in a welcoming and stress free way.

  • What we do envisage as a senior leadership team is, once school has returned to "normal" that we will hold a round of parent teacher interviews so that we can clarify goals and pathways forward for your child before setting off again in the classroom environment. The details surrounding these meetings will be communicated with you in time.

    • Amended 2020 Term Dates

    • Term 2

      • started Wednesday 15 April
      • ends Friday 3 July
      Public Holiday - Monday the 1st of June

      Term 3

      • starts Monday 20 July
      • ends Friday 25 September

      Term 4

      • starts Monday 12 October
      • ends Thursday 17th December 2020
    • Scheduled Field Trips

    Clearly some of our scheduled events will need to be cancelled, and others postponed. When regular school resumes, I will be in a better position to decide what is cancelled, and what is postponed.  Please keep an eye on the school newsletters as well as class newsletters on the Seesaw. 

    When Will School Resume As Normal?

    This week the Government will determine the conditions for schools operating within Alert Level 2.  My update at the end of this week, will outline these for all families. In the meantime, we know now that we will remain in Alert Level 3 at least until midnight on May 13.



  • Get to know our Trustees.....This week we introduce our first Trustee

  • Bridget Aitchison joined the Board in 2016 and has been the Board Chair for 18 months. Bridget was appointed Chair in 2019.  Prior to joining the Board, Bridget was finance officer of The St Michael's Catholic School PTA. She is an active school community member and has a passion and drive to follow our vision of succeeding our school to greater heights. Bridget brings strengths in the areas of Catholic Character as well as a drive for all tamariki experience success. She is passionate about making Catholic Education more financially accessible to working class families. Married to Ian Aitchison, she currently has Tamzyn attending St Michael's School, as well as another daughter Madison at John Paul College

  • Bridget.jpg

    As you are all aware we have two board vacancies that have arisen and need to be filled.  To keep you informed of our election process I have set out below our election timetable.


    Close (Parents/caregivers who can vote) school Roll 16th May

    Call for nominations (mail out) 18th May

    Close supplementary school Roll 30th May

    Nominations Close 1st June

    Voting papers sent by mail  (if Election required) 6th June

    Election Day 15th June

    Count Votes 21st June

    Board takes office 22nd June


    An advertisement will be placed in the Daily Post this Saturday calling for nominations for the two board vacancies.  Your nominations papers together with a covering letter from the board and a copy of the advertisement will be posted out next week.  If I receive more than 2 nominations an election will be required.  


    To learn more about Board of trustees Elections go to: 

    0800 353 284


Word from the New Zealand Catholic School's Education Office

Statement for Catholic School Families in Response to the Challenges Encountered by Covid-19 Kia ora koutou nga Whanau Katorika 

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops have been mindful of the challenges many people in our community are facing during the Covid-19 crisis. We understand the anxiety for parents and caregivers created by a loss of employment or other challenges of caring for children at home during this lockdown. Our schools offer strong pastoral care, which is the foundation of our Catholic faith and is particularly important in times of upheaval, such as when many educators and students are having to adjust to distance learning. We want to ensure all those currently enrolled in Catholic schools are able to remain at their school of choice. The New Zealand Catholic Education Office and our Diocesan leadership teams have given Catholic school Proprietors an appraisal of the challenges parents are likely to face as a result of the impacts of Covid-19. They are looking at ways we can support the cost of attendance dues for parents who have a loss of income or other hardship. Work is being done to ensure that our community is supported during this period, and that students are not further challenged by a need to look for a new school as a result of financial hardship. 

Families are encouraged to contact their diocese’s schools/education office. We remember Catholic school families, staff and communities in our prayers, and commend you all for your creative and faith-filled response during this time. We are inspired by how schools have worked to ensure the continued learning and spiritual formation of students. We look forward to continuing to support our community to remain part of the Catholic Education family. 

God Bless, 

✠ Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton and NZCBC Secretary 

Posted: Tue 05 May 2020


St Michael's Catholic Primary School is a Special Character Catholic School