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Photo by Sally-Ann Goodman

Principal's Report

Phil Holstein —

Kia ora whānau

Phew, what a Term 1 this has been!

Just as we were about to welcome in the new school year, especially our new Year 9 students and their whānau, new staff, and other new students to the school, COVID-19 reminded us that life is never smooth sailing. All our plans were impacted, leading to significant changes to the way we normally operate.

Once again, our school community adapted to the challenges and barriers we face. We’ve learned so much about isolation, masks, PCR tests and RATs, boosters, ventilation, scanning in and vaccine passes; while adjusting or cancelling events to comply with restrictions on gatherings. We’ve followed all these public health measures to alleviate the pressure on our health system and to protect those most at risk of getting sick. I want to reassure you all that Burnside High School continues to be a safe environment to be in.

Our school, like all schools and workplaces, has experienced positive cases and people isolating in households. This has affected both staff and students. We monitored the situation daily, trying to keep students onsite for as long as possible, before accumulated staff absences necessitated a move to the hybrid learning model from 15 March. This meant students had a combination of face-to-face and remote learning on a rostered basis. While our aim was continuity of learning, we know how difficult this has been for both students and staff. We know how tiring it has been; and that we’d all much rather just be at school every day. I am proud of how everyone has handled the changes, disappointments, and frustrations associated with this disruptive period. Thank you for the way you have responded and adjusted.

Communication between school and whānau continues to be a key factor in helping us manage the COVID situation. I hope you feel that you have been regularly informed through Schoology, our website, our Facebook page, and emails. Thank you very much for keeping us fully informed if your student is absent.

Ka whati te tī, ka wana te tī, ka rito te tī - When ti kōuka is tested by the elements, it builds inner strength, then begins to grow again.

Ti kōuka, the historical stand of cabbage trees on our school grounds, are our constant. No matter what is thrown at the cabbage trees, whether by nature or human activity, they always withstand the test because they are strong, confident, and remarkably resilient. They hold fast, bending instead of breaking, then adapt and grow stronger. Ti kōuka is a symbol for us of how to live our lives and enhance our wellbeing in testing times. The message is simple: face the challenge head on, learn how to cope in the short term, adjust, overcome and grow stronger together.

We are looking forward to returning in Term 2 with all students and staff back onsite! I am confident that we will deal with whatever happens; and assure you that every effort will be made to recover lost time and teaching opportunities. As we begin the April holidays, we all know what we must do to continue to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. It is also a time to rest, recharge, and take some time out.

Let’s continue working together to make 2022 a successful year.

Ngā mihi nui

Phil Holstein