Coronavirus Information

Update 28/2/2021: Move back to Level 2 6am Sunday 28 February

You will be aware from the Primeminister’s broadcast at 9pm last night that as from 6am this morning we are back at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 (Level 3 in Auckland) for the next 7 days. There are a couple of planned trips this week including Year 13 Outdoor Education and Year 11 Geography, there will be communications going out to those concerned on Monday.

Our teachers have worked hard over the past 2 weeks to get their google classrooms set up in readiness should they be needed. Can you please support us by checking that your son has accepted the invites to join the relevant classes. This is easily done by getting him to log on to google classroom and showing you the classes he is a member of - there should be one for each of his subjects.

Here is a reminder of the information that was sent out to you on 14 February about Level 2 expectations and procedures:

Under Alert Level 2 schools are open to everyone and all students must attend. Learning will be onsite. Distance learning will be provided for those required to self-isolate, those individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result and for those students who might be at significant risk from illness.

Schools are not classified as gatherings so it is pretty much business as usual and a range of events and activities will continue to go ahead. There will be contact tracing in place at all after school activities, including sport.

Face coverings are not required at school or on any school transport. This includes charter buses hired by the school to transport students and staff. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering in any setting will be supported to do so.

It is extremely important that sick people stay at home. They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate. If a student has a COVID test they must not attend school until a negative result is confirmed.

We all need to continue to play our part for our team of 5 million which includes good hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette and physical distancing (not touching and not breathing on each other at Alert Level 2). The college will continue to regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and to provide sanitiser in key locations for students and staff to use.

If you are coming on site, please make sure that you use the COVID-19 tracer app, and sign in at the main office. Please do not come on site if you yourself are unwell. If you are dropping off/picking up your son, please remain in your vehicle.

Update 17/2/2021: Moving back Level 1

It was great news to hear that we are moving to Alert Level 1 so quickly. While new cases in the community are always disappointing to hear of, it is reassuring to see how quickly they have been identified. I am sure we are all grateful for the efforts of our health workers, scientists and technicians in this regard, and the thousands of people who have been tested.

As a community we need to avoid the complacency which New Zealanders tend to quickly move into when we are at lower alert levels. Please do continue to scan QR codes and monitor closely for illness within your whānau.

Our focus as always will be to support the learning, safety and wellbeing of our rangatahi and tamariki and we continue to be here to support you too.

COVID-19 Update 14/2/21: Move to Alert Level 2

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

You will be aware from the Primeminister’s broadcast at 7pm this evening that New Zealand will be moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 (Level 3 in Auckland) for the next 72 hours, starting from midnight tonight. I thought it would be useful to send out a reminder as to what Alert Level 2 looks like for schools.

Under Alert Level 2 schools are open to everyone and all students must attend. Learning will be onsite. Distance learning will be provided for those required to self-isolate, those individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result and for those students who might be at significant risk from illness.

Schools are not classified as gatherings so it is pretty much business as usual and a range of events and activities will continue to go ahead. There will be contact tracing in place at all after school activities, including sport.

Face coverings are not required at school or on any school transport. This includes charter buses hired by the school to transport students and staff. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering in any setting will be supported to do so.

It is extremely important that sick people stay at home. They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate.

We all need to continue to play our part for our team of 5 million which includes good hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette and physical distancing (not touching and not breathing on each other at Alert Level 2). The college will continue to regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and to provide sanitiser in key locations for students and staff to use.

If you are coming on site, please make sure that you use the COVID-19 tracer app, and sign in at the main office. Please do not come on site if you yourself are unwell.

Please note that the Year 9 visits scheduled to take place to Hukanui marae on Thursday/Friday this week have been postponed.

Update 15/9

Our extended community are continuing to take COVID-19 seriously through using the COVID tracer App, staying away if they are sick, seeking medical advice and getting tested if recommended to do so. Thank you all, for your efforts.

While we are doing the right things, it is important that we continue to pay attention to the right information. Misinformation is designed to create panic, fear and confusion. Check your source. Get the real deal from the Ministry of Health or Unite Against COVID-19 websites. The Ministry of Education also provides information for schools and early learning services including specific information for parents and caregivers.

Our knowledge of COVID-19 is developing quickly. But misinformation spreads further and faster. Be part of the solution. Don’t share posts or stories if you’re not sure if they’re true or aren’t from trusted sources like the Ministry of Health or Unite Against COVID-19 websites.

Āraia te kino and protect yourself, your whānau and your whakapapa.

Update 12/8 - Sport under Alert Level 2

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

The following information has gone to all coaches, managers and students today to update them about sport under Alert Level 2.  We are very appreciative of our coaches and managers who will be taking on additional tasks to allow sport to happen for your sons. We ask that you support the additional Level 2 protocols that are in place to keep us all safe, and to allow NZ life to return to L1 as soon as possible.

Key information is that parents should please stay in their cars if dropping off and picking up for training – this means we don’t need to record you for contact tracing purposes.


Dear Coaches, Managers and Students

In light of the Government's announcement last evening that the country (apart from Auckland) will be moving to ALERT LEVEL 2 as of midday on Wednesday, 12 August, we are advising the following.

Sports PRACTICES can go ahead under the following guidelines: 

Contact Tracing - managers must record everyone in attendance and have this available on short notice.  Managers need to send their list daily to Joe Smal on

Cleaning and Hygiene - make sure all participants wash and dry their hands OR sanitise before and after playing.  All equipment must be washed before and after use.  Students should all use individual water bottles or named water bottles.  If you have spray and cleaning products from the last lockdown please use those.  If you need a top up or new supplies please contact Joe or myself and we can drop off to you at training.

Gatherings – only players and coaches/managers may be present at training.  Parents/caregivers must not join practices – parents must stay in their cars please if picking up after training. This supports accurate contact tracing.

Physical Distancing - where possible limit the amount of contact between players.  Also, try to maintain distancing before and after trainings.

In regards to GAMES (Indoor and Outdoor) we will be guided by School Sport NZ, WSSSA Executive and RSO's who are assessing current competitions and events on the sporting calendar that may be affected at Alert Level 2.  Most sport was possible during Level 2 in May, and we fully expect that competitions will continue, with the addition of increased Level 2 protocols at venues. Managers are asked to keep players and parents updated directly.

All teams and parents should please follow the contact tracing requirements at sporting venues.

Attached is the Alert Level 2 Sport NZ guidelines and management plans.

Thanks for your patience and please contact Joe or myself if you have any questions.

In the Spirit of St John

Leon Holden,

Director of Sport

Update 11/8 - Moving to Alert Level 2

Dear Parent/Caregiver/Student,

You will be aware that the country is moving back to COVID-19 alert level 2 as from midday Wednesday 12 August. A reminder that under Alert Level 2 it is safe for all students to be onsite (some children vulnerable to illness may choose to remain at home). School will be business as usual and we expect all students to attend as normal unless they are sick/exhibiting new onset or worsening of one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cough

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Runny nose

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

  • Temporary loss of smell

Should you send your son to school exhibiting these symptoms, we will be contacting you to determine whether or not he poses a risk to others, it is likely that they will be sent home. The college has been working hard to ensure that we are in a position to make a clear and proactive response to COVID-19. The safety and welfare of our students and staff is paramount. As from tomorrow the following will be in place:

  • Hand sanitiser will be in every classroom and we will be expecting all students to sanitise and follow protocols that we put in place, just as they have before.

  • Reinstatement of contact tracing registers

  • Students and staff should be far enough away from each other so that they are not breathing on or touching each other - this will be enforced in more public areas of the college such as the queue for the canteen

  • Regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces

The move to Alert Level 2 impacts on college events this week:

  • Options evening is postponed - more information will be sent out during Wednesday to those who have registered as I am looking at moving part of the event online for the evening

  • MC Day on Thursday is cancelled - normal timetabled lessons will run

  • 11JC information evening on Thursday is postponed

Our team of 800+ needs to support the New Zealand team of 5 million by following basic hygiene measures at home and at school, as these are the best defence against COVID-19 including:

  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues

  • put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately

  • wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)

  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell

  • don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

  • clean surfaces regularly.

In addition, be mindful of your own movements outside of school, you are encouraged to keep a note/diary as to where you go and who you spend time with outside of school. You are encouraged to use the COVID-19 tracer app where you can. We will of course keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Update 15/5

Great news - Mr Tong is back and really looking forward to greeting the boys upon their return to school on Monday!

The College has  adopted school wide Level 2 protocols that are in line with Ministry of Education guidance. Sanitiser is readily available and an increased cleaning regime is in place. Students will notice some changes to their routines to support good hygiene and distancing. Please encourage your son to practice great hand hygiene and smart distancing – we need him to do his bit for these measures to work best.

We have robust systems ready for contact tracing. We encourage parents to make enquiries by phone/email where possible and only call into the School office for essential business (this will also save you time). Parents must not enter the school site during school hours without signing in and providing contact tracing details at reception. We ask that parents remain in vehicles in the carpark, even after hours.

The Canteen will be open with a slightly reduced menu and with a stricter queuing system in place. Water fountains have been taped closed. Please remind your son to bring a full water bottle, these can be refilled at school.

Please be aware that we will be running our attendance procedures as normal, we are mindful that there could be issues with students arriving late if using public buses. Please encourage your son to send you a txt if he is struggling to get on a bus to get to school so that if you receive a message from the college saying he is not here, you can respond to us accordingly.

If your son is sick, please do not send him to school and remember to let us know by using School Links to register absent students. Absence enquiries go to Mrs Sarndra Petrin - 

Many of us find change one of the most challenging things to cope with, our students are no exception. Our brains love predictability and consistency, it gives us a sense of safety and security. The past 3 months have upset the status quo, with many of us feeling more vulnerable and anxious due to the lack of predictability. Lockdown and the bubbles that we have maintained helped to redress the balance, giving us the sense of security and safety that we need. But on Monday we will be asking our fine young men to trade the security and safety of lockdown life for the minefield that is school life. After 7 weeks many of our students might not be happy with the trade, despite being able to catch up with friends and have some greater freedom. How can we keep those normal, first day jitters from turning into a full-blown anxiety attack? Here are some things to consider:

How does your son usually respond to transitions?

While children have lots of different and unique traits, overall, most of us can tell whether our child is generally a bit more cautious and tentative or a bit more confident and assertive. And whilst both of these ‘groups’ of children could find the transition difficult, they will do so for slightly different reasons and are likely to show it in slightly different ways.

Cautious and tentative

Cautious and tentative boys may already be fretting about going back to school. They may be dropping hints that they’re not looking forward to going back to school, or that they’re not even planning on going back to school at all. You may notice them become increasingly withdrawn as they change from chatty to quiet and pensive. If you’re a parent of a cautious and tentative child, remember that this is just how your son interacts with the world. So try not to let their worries and concerns end up making you feel overly worried and concerned – they will quickly pick up on that and it will make them even more cautious and tentative! Instead, be a calming influence as you talk to them and listen to their fears. Show them empathy and compassion and let them know that you understand how they feel. This article about Pause, Hold, Engage can support you to do that.

After empathy and compassion comes problem-solving or, in this case, planning. Help your son to make up scripts and plans around what to do when they feel worried or afraid about going to school. They could also do this for those specific situations at school that are worrying them. What these plans will look like will depend on the situation but remember that it’s all about letting your child know that you have full confidence that they will be okay and that they have the tools and strategies to cope with the demands of school life – whatever it will look like in this new normal!

Confident and ready to go

Unlike cautious and tentative children, confident and assertive boys may be raring to go! They may be showing signs of frustration and restlessness as the time away from their friends and school seems to drag on forever. Although they may have some worries, a quick chat with you seems to alleviate any concerns. They may already be planning post-lockdown activities. But although this may seem wonderful to the parent of a cautious and tentative child, parents of these children may have learned that they can also be quite impulsive and can get easily frustrated when things don’t quite go their way. And in terms of going back to school, this can be worrying. While Day One might be easy going, Day Two might be more difficult when the confident children realise that school looks quite different and that the hygiene and distancing expectations are cramping their style. All of this might lead to next-level feelings of frustration and disappointment.

Pre-empting this by gently talking about the new rules, expectations, and limitations of school post-lockdown might go some way in curbing their unrealistic ideas. But chances are that the reality won’t hit until they’re actually back at school. When they do arrive home frustrated and annoyed, empathy and compassion will be the first step. Confident and assertive young men have a tendency to focus on the things they really want to do but are not allowed to do. So when it comes to problem-solving (after empathy and compassion of course!) help them to focus on the things that they enjoy at school and can still do there. Help them to think of creative ways to still have fun and be social without breaking the rules!

How do you feel about sending the kids back to school?

In many ways, you as parents will be just as nervous about your sons going back to school as they are. You will be worrying about how they will transition from lockdown life to school life, but given the circumstances, you might also have quite different concerns. We might worry that they’ve fallen behind in their learning. We may also worry about their health and whether they’ll wash their hands as they should, keep their social distance, and whether they’ll finally get the message to NOT SHARE FOOD AND DRINK BOTTLES!!!

Even though these concerns are legitimate, they can drive us to do strange things. We may find ourselves giving them hour-long daily lectures about the importance of hand washing or we might ask them if they’re okay about going back to school so many times a day that they start to question our sanity. In the end we unintentionally escalate their worries and concerns rather than calm them. That is why it is so important to make sure we look after ourselves first. If we’re really worried about our children’s well-being as they transition to school and that worry is stopping us from being a calming influence for them, then we may need to engage in some self-care first (there is some information about how to do that here and here).

Hoping that you all manage to enjoy some time (apart?) over the weekend and take the opportunity to get out and stretch your legs.

Update 13/5 Buses at Alert Level 2

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

Please take the time to read the relevant section of this email if your son travels to school on either a public or contracted bus service. Further information has come through today which may impact on arrangements for getting your son to/from school if he catches a public bus.

Public Bus Services

There are a number of changes to public bus services (See attached summary poster). All information, including a route by route summary is online - In Hamilton most buses will continue to operate to a weekend timetable, with some extra trips put on to help people get to school and work. Public services travelling from Huntly, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Morrinsville and Raglan operate their normal weekday service, including the school assist buses.

The large volume of students wanting to catch buses will pose significant challenges to the public bus network due to the capacity restrictions in place - both with the network/timetable (lack of driver availability) and onboard (physical distancing requirements). Available seating will be approximately 40% of the normal level, there will be no standing. Government advice is to try and limit taking public transport.

All students who normally catch a public bus and have an alternative way of getting to school are encouraged to do so -eg lift from parents/bike. This is so that those who have no alternative transport options can use the bus services that are running.

Bus capacity

  • On-board capacity is only 40% at Level 2.

  • Stickers on the exterior of the buses show what the maximum number of passengers on each bus is.

Physical distancing

  • All window seats are available.

  • All aisle seats are unavailable UNLESS you know the person in the window seat (e.g. a sibling, classmate, friend, in the same sports team etc.).

  • Follow the mantra --- “If you know them, you can sit next to them”

Contact tracing

  • Contact tracing is COMPULSORY.

  • Students must register their trip by completing the passenger trip register form here or by ringing 0800 205 305.

Other Points:

  • Please do not travel if you are unwell.

  • Bus travel will continue to be free until further notice to avoid direct contact between drivers and passengers.

  • Bus entry will be by the rear doors where possible, which excludes at the Hamilton Transport Centre and where passengers – such as wheelchair users – require the ramp for boarding.

  • Enhanced cleaning of buses continues, including:

    • Daily disinfection to all touch points on board including bell pushers, poles and seat back handles

    • Daily fogging/misting disinfectant treatment of all buses

    • Extensive cleaning and disinfecting of the air conditioning filters 

    • Enhanced cleaning of the Transport Centre seats and shelters is also taking place

Contracted Bus Services

These are the services that run under contract for school students (Huntly, Melville, Morrinsville, Ngaruawahia, Pirongia, Te Aroha and Te Awamutu) and we are expecting all services to be running as normal at this time. Guidelines are in place for these Ministry of Education runs and private/ kura runs. Maintaining distancing is not practicable on school contracted buses. Just like schools, school buses are exempt from physical distancing as robust contact tracing is already in place but students still need to be out of each other's breath zone There are a few steps that operators are taking to offer an appropriate level of protection to drivers and students under Alert Level 2:

  • Where the seating configuration on the bus has passenger seats in close proximity to the driver, these seats are not to be used and will be barriered off.

  • Hand sanitizer is available to driver and students.

  • Cleaning regimes are to be maintained throughout by the driver.

Update 12/5

Kia Ora Koutou 

Dear Parents and community of Saint John’s College

You will be aware that with the move to Level 2 this Thursday, schools will reopen next Monday 18th May.  The Ministry has advised us that: ‘it is safe for all students and staff to return to school in Alert Level 2.  Schools are safe because hygiene habits will be strong and schools will put into place safe and sensible practices.’

Below are some key details that have come out through the Ministry of Education and Sport NZ and also some detail as to how we are responding to the challenges we face as a school community.

  • For the remainder of this week the only students who should be in school are those in year 9 or 10 who have already been attending during level 3.  Under level 2 there will be more options for child care as you are able to move outside of your bubble.

  • Teachers will continue with online learning however, no new work will be set for year 9 and 10 on Thursday/Friday so that students can complete what they have been unable to get finished to date.

  • Students must stay home if they are sick. All other students are expected to attend school as of the 18th May.  This day will start as any other with students in form classes where we will be welcoming them back and also carefully explaining to them the expectations and processes around hygiene.

  • On-line learning will be available for students who are at home sick, however, as all staff will be at school teaching classes, this will not be delivered at the level it has been during Level 3.

  • As well as soap and water in the toilets, there will be hand sanitiser in every classroom and the Atrium and students will be encouraged to use this as they enter every room.

  • Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. In an Alert Level 2 school environment, this means children, young people, and staff are to attempt to maintain physical distancing so that they are not breathing on or touching each other, coupled with good hygiene practices (coughing into your elbow, handwashing and drying) and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

  • Mass gatherings – educational facilities and school transport are not considered mass gatherings because they are managed environments. This means there are no restrictions on numbers of people indoors or outside at schools and early learning services other than what other public health or health and safety measures require.

  • There are no restrictions on the number of students attending assemblies however we will be extra vigilant around students not being too close to one another.

  • Physical activities, including using shared equipment, can go ahead.  Physical distancing is not possible in some sporting activities. In these situations extra emphasis on handwashing and drying (or cleansing with hand sanitiser) before and after activities and regular cleaning of equipment is recommended. 

  • Competitive school sports can resume including contact sports.  This relies on being able to contact trace players and spectators.  Spectators are capped at 100 not including players and coaches.  However, we need to not rush and carefully manage boys back into competitive sport.

  • There is no minimum distance requirement for students in schools at Alert Level 2 however, where possible, students should not be touching each other.

  • Rural buses will run.  There is no minimum physical distancing required but students should follow the guidelines as above. 

  • Where the seating configuration on the bus has passenger seats in close proximity to the driver, these seats are not to be used and will be barriered off.

  • Hand sanitizer is available to drivers and students.

  • Cleaning regimes are to be maintained throughout by the driver.

  • Our understanding is that the public (Orbitor) buses must maintain social distancing and, as such, will have a capacity of half.  This may mean that some families will need to arrange another form of transport to school or perhaps leave earlier than usual.

  • We have robust systems ready for contact tracing, but every visitor to school adds complexity to that. We encourage parents to make enquiries by phone and email where possible, and only call into the School office for essential business. Parents must not enter the school site during school hours without signing in at Reception. We also ask that parents remain in vehicles in the carpark, even after hours.

  • PPE is not required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by the Public Health Service.

  • Most importantly students must take responsibility for their own personal hygiene, both at school and at home.  We will be regularly reminding them of what this means at school.

In reading the responses from the student survey it is clear that the boys have had a range of experiences during this lock down period.  Most appear to have managed the on-line learning well however some have clearly struggled with the workload and there are also some who have shown little or no engagement.  This could mean that some students will have fallen further behind their classmates when they return to the classroom and may struggle to catch up.  

The survey also asked the boys about their mental health and how well they were coping.  The response was around half and half, with many saying that they were finding it ‘hard going and stressful’.  We are well aware that we will need to transition students back into school and not overload them with assessments.  

This is particularly true for students sitting NCEA in the senior school.  They are aware that there will not be as many credits on offer as normal and might be stressed from the pressure to quickly catch up on assessments.  If you have any concerns about how your son is coping, please contact the dean in the first instance and/or the guidance counsellors.

I am looking forward to getting back into school (particularly after my dramas with a third operation on my replacement knee due to infection!).  I believe that staff and senior management have done a great job of managing what is a unique and difficult process. Thanks also to you, parents and caregivers, for the support you have given your son(s) and us during this time in lockdown.  The maintenance of our tight community is vital for a quick return to some sense of normality for us all.

Update 7/5

Like me, I am sure you have followed with interest the announcements made by the Prime Minister.

It is reassuring to hear how well our country has performed to date at minimising the impacts of COVID-19. Alert Levels 4 and 3 have not been easy for anyone and I thank you for your ongoing support for the work we continue to do.

Today, the Prime Minister advised that in Alert Level 2 schools are safe environments for children, young people and staff and that additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.

The good news is that when we are able to, we will be ready to welcome all students and staff back to our school site.

The key Public Health approach is to minimise the risk that someone gets infected in the first place, and second to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person, if someone in a school is infected. 

As we have done in Alert Level 3, you can be assured that in Alert Level 2 we will know who is at school, who our staff and students have been in close contact with and take appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.

Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. We do however know it is challenging in schools, so good hygiene practices and regular cleaning are even more important here. This includes staff and students coughing into their elbows, handwashing and drying and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

Under Alert Level 2, we will be advising any students and staff to stay at home if they are sick, and we will send anyone home immediately if they show any symptoms. 

Our school has safe and sensible practices to maintain the health and safety of everyone on the school site. As described by Dr Payinda in his NZ Herald article, “Covid's not measles or chickenpox, it doesn't hang in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You don't have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their 'moist breath' zone”. We all just need to remember to have some breathing space at Alert Level 2!

It’s important however that not just at school but at home, safe hygiene habits are practised by everyone, as this is essential to minimise the risk that someone gets infected with Covid-19. 

For more information about the public health measures at Alert Level 2, you can visit the website: 

If you have any questions about our health and safety plan, or have a child who might be vulnerable to serious illness and would like to discuss a plan for them, please contact me.

We will be in touch again soon to update you on our plans as soon as we have more information as to when we might be moving to Alert Level 2. For the time being, we know that online learning will continue for the whole of next week.


Dear Parent/Caregiver,

You will be aware that later today the government will be releasing details as to what Alert Level 2 will look like for us all. This will be followed by a cabinet decision on Monday 11 May as to whether we stay at Alert Level 3 or move to Level 2 later that week.

We want to be ahead of the game with our strategic planning so ask that you complete this short student travel survey. We need to ensure that our records on how EVERY student travels to/from school are accurate. This includes information on bus travel as it is required by bus operators for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.

It is imperative that we have responses for every student in school, so please complete the 30 second survey as soon as possible (no later than Sunday 10 May)

There will be further updates from the college when we have new information to share with our community.

Update 24/4

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

It has been another extremely busy week here at the college. Staff and students continue to demonstrate how innovative, resourceful and creative they can be when working in an online environment. With every crisis comes opportunity, an opportunity to grow and we are seeing our fine young men and teachers do just that.

You will be aware that the government has made next Tuesday a teacher only day for all schools across the country, coincidentally this had always been a planned teacher only day for us. All of our staff will be engaged in remotely delivered professional development to ensure that your sons are supported in the best way possible with their online learning. The boys are of course encouraged to engage in their online learning on Tuesday having had a long and well deserved weekend.

I would like to thank our fantastic admin team for all their support this week, they’ve made hundreds of phone calls to parents following up on devices, internet connectivity and Y9/10 attendance during Alert Level 3.

Earlier this afternoon Mr Kay emailed out a wellbeing survey to be completed by all students. Please encourage them to complete and submit as it is the only way that we can get a handle on how they are feeling about their learning in addition to their general wellbeing. We will be repeating this every Friday.

Update 21/4 - Survey for Year 9 & 10

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

Please complete our online survey by midday on Thursday. Having this information is crucial for us to put suitable preparations in place for our students.

As per the government's key message yesterday, a move to Alert Level 3 will still see us working and learning from home if at all possible. We recognise that a limited number of students may need to come to school as they cannot be left unsupervised.

The Ministry of Education has advised that they are working closely with health to develop clear guidance that will support schools to safely re-open their premises to students and staff. This will help us work through the public health requirements that we all need to meet. As you will be doing, we want to be sure that what we do will keep our community as safe as possible.

What will school look like for any students that need to attend from Wednesday 29 April?

Whilst we are awaiting on additional guidance from the Ministry of Education, we do know that:

  • Students will be in a ‘bubble’ with 9 other students initially. Each bubble will be allocated a working space within the college. Students will sit in the same place each day and maintain appropriate physical distancing (at least 1m)

  • Student groups (bubbles) will not interact with each other at all

  • Separate toilets will be allocated to each bubble as far as possible

  • Students will be given a break and time for lunch - they will stay in an identified area for their bubble in school and remain at least 2m apart when outside

  • Breaks will be staggered to ensure that bubbles are not burst

  • Students will not be taught but will be supervised by a member of staff whilst they engage in their online learning like the rest of the school

  • Students will need to bring a packed lunch/snacks and a water bottle as there will be no access to a canteen service

  • There will be frequent handwashing and sanitising based on movement in/out of rooms

  • Students will need to bring their device to school - if they share a device with siblings this is to be left at home and they will be issued a Chromebook to use during the day. They will use the same device each day

  • School transport - There are a number of logistical issues being worked through in relation to school transport. The safety of drivers and students is our highest priority. At this time we do not expect our rural bus services to be running, but we are waiting on our providers for final confirmation.

I would like to thank you for your continued support, and to our students who continue to engage well with their learning online. You are encouraged to make contact with individual teachers if you have concerns.

Let us keep working together and finish what has been started; stay home, stay safe.

Update 20/4 - Moving to Alert Level 3 (11:59pm 27 April)

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

We hope that the first few days of Term 2 and our distance learning programme have been a success for you and your son(s) so far. We know that there will have been any number of challenges for you to deal with but we have been getting some great feedback about the learning that is happening, some of which has been used to further improve how we will be delivering learning to students from this week. Thank you for your continued support during these unprecedented times.

Earlier this afternoon the Government decided that we will move to Alert Level 3 on 28 April. The key message for you is that if you can, you should continue to keep your children at home whilst we are at Alert Level 3. Online learning in its current format will continue for all Y11-13 students and for the vast majority of students in Y9-10 whilst we are at Alert Level 3.

Whilst school will be opening in a very limited capacity to accommodate Y9 and 10 students who need to be here from 29 April, you should only physically send your child to school if you need to, not because you want to. If your child has a health condition that means they are at a greater risk of a severe illness you must keep them at home regardless. The same applies if there is an individual who identifies as high-risk in your bubble.

Tomorrow, those of you with sons in Year 9 or 10  will receive a further email from me with a link to an online survey. Please ensure that you complete the survey for all students by midday Thursday. The survey will be used to find out whether you can keep your child learning from home, or need your child to attend in person.

As a college, we continue to invest heavily in your son’s online learning. I give you our assurance that this will continue through the duration of Alert Level 3 for all students. There will be further information from us later in the week once we have received further updates/guidance from the Ministry of Education.

Update 17/4

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I am extremely proud of the way in which our students and teachers have engaged with each other online in the first two days of this, a new term. Teachers have worked exceptionally hard to transition everything they know from a known environment to an online environment that is relatively new and unfamiliar for many. The boys have shown how they can take things in their stride, show strength and determination by engaging in a focused and positive way. I am mindful that there will of course be challenges upon the way, which we will rise to as a strong learning community. Our continued focus for the next week is on engagement and making sure that students are fully engaged with all their work.

I would also like to thank you as parents and caregivers. You play both a crucial and pivotal role in supporting your sons during this challenging time. It is so important that we work together to ensure that the boys are engaging with their learning. I thank you in advance for being prepared to have the ‘tougher’ conversations with them when needed to keep them on the right track with their learning. Please, also take the time to recognise when things are going well and celebrate their successes too.

You will be aware that there were some key announcements made yesterday by the government as to what Alert Level 3 will look like for us all, at this point in time no decision has been made as to when we will be leaving lockdown. They have announced that schools will open for children up to and including Year 10, students in Year 11-13 will continue to learn at home. However, the government has made it clear that there is still an expectation for both adults and children to remain at home wherever possible. When we are at Alert Level 3 attendance to school by junior students will be voluntary and discouraged, being limited to the children of parents who have to go to work. All students wherever possible should be remaining at home and engaging with their learning online.

I understand that these announcements will cause consternation for many, not least our students. Please be assured in knowing that the college will continue to do everything we can to ensure that you son has access to the best learning opportunities possible.

The only information that schools currently have is what has been reported in the media. I expect to receive considerably more detail from the Ministry of Education in due course.  will be communicating all relevant information on what Alert Level 3 will look like for the St John’s College community as soon as it is known.

Update 15/4 - First Day of Term 2

We've had a successful first day back in Term 2 and I am pleased with how our community is responding to the challenges of online learning. Our focus for this week and next is on engagement, focusing on getting all of our students to engage with the learning that is being provided for them.

Mr Tester has made video update that goes through what we are doing to support students with online learning.

Update 14/4 - Eve of Term 2

On the eve of our return to the start of Term 2 I wanted to take the opportunity to send a message to our parents and students.

Whilst there is considerable uncertainty over the conclusion of our lockdown and what will happen thereafter we do know that we will be engaging in online learning for the next 2 weeks. I would like to publicly thank all of the staff at the college who have been working exceptionally hard over the past 3 weeks to prepare resources and shape learning opportunities for our fine young men to engage with online. They have worked hard during the holidays to give our students the best opportunities to thrive under these challenging circumstances and I look forward to seeing the work that students complete during this time.

I would also like to thank all those contributions that students have been making to the essential workforce during the school holidays, including working hard in many of our local supermarkets. The start of term 2 does however signal that students’ work hours must now return to being outside of school hours only.

It is really important that everyone reviews our expectations over remote learning - you can access these and a wealth of information on our Online Learning portal that has just gone live. I cannot stress how important this is. Learning has always been a partnership between students, the college and whānau, this doesn’t change going into term 2, in fact it becomes more important than ever that we work together to support our learners.

Students, now is the time for you to step up to show that true ‘grit’ and determination and meet the challenges head on. Teachers have prepared work for you, will connect with you, work with you and check in with you to ensure that you have every opportunity to be successful, but you need to do your part and manage your learning. Make sure that you are checking email and logging onto your google classrooms every day during the week and develop a routine that works for you.

Tomorrow sees the launch of two new television channels dedicated to broadcasting educational programmes for school students during the Covid-19 lockdown. Home Learning | Papa Kāinga TV will be shown, free to air, on TVNZ channel 2+1 and on TVNZ on Demand, as well as on Sky Channel 502. It will run from 9am to 3pm on school days with programming for children and young people aged 2 to 15, as well as for parents. Māori Television will also be broadcasting te reo educational programmes (for ages 2 to 18) from 9am to 3pm on schooldays. Home Learning TV will initially be on air for one month – with provision to extend beyond that depending on the COVID-19 situation. Due to lessons being finalised a few days in advance of broadcasting, we can’t provide details of each day’s programming in advance, schedules will be provided here.

Free internet safety filter for parents

While children are learning from home, they are away from the online safety and security services provided by Network for Learning (N4L) at school. So together with N4L and Netsafe, we have launched - a free way to block the worst of the web for students and teachers.

As we move into the start of term we will be reamping up our presence through our Facebook and Instagram, giving lots of useful advice as well as additional challenges and activities for students (and parents!) to engage in.

Update 10/4

Dear Parent/Caregiver/Student,

I hope that you and your family have been keeping safe in your bubble over the past couple of weeks and I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Easter. I apologise in advance for the length of this update but it is to clarify our expectations for students for the start of the new school term. Next Wednesday 15 April will be the official start of term 2 and the start of remote learning.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been busy putting an online learning portal on the web for both parents and students to access. Please take the time to look through all the information, I’ve tried to make it as useful as possible as we enter into a new realm of online learning for all our students. It is still very much work in progress and will be updated as term 2 progresses.

We are passionate about ensuring that your son has access to the best educational opportunities that we can provide. There has been much academic research around online learning. Research clearly indicates that the pedagogy (method and practice of teaching) needs to be quite different when delivering learning opportunities online if it is to be effective. Effective learning online will not see a replication of teaching and learning in the way that we know it when in front of a teacher in a classroom, in a school. It will look quite different, both in terms of what students are engaging with in order to learn but also how and when they are doing it. This may be unnerving for you as a parent as it something that you are unfamiliar with, but we need to follow what all the educational research says about online learning.

Your son will not have a set timetable as in school, he will have the flexibility to choose what gets worked on and when. Your son will be encouraged to develop his own work routine.  In this initial phase of online learning the key to success is ensuring that all students engage and remain connected. The core online platforms we will use are Google Classroom, Gmail, Google docs/slides, Google Meet. In addition some faculties may have additional subscription based services that they use. Teachers may also create other recorded digital lessons, our students should be familiar with most of these technologies already. Some information on Google Meet can be found here. Teachers will be online and available to students 11am-1pm Mon-Fri. At other times they may be running tutorials or 1-1 conferences through Google Meet, planning lessons, marking/reviewing work and giving feedback to students.

For your information we have provided you with our expectations of our staff at this time:

General Expectations of our teachers:

  1. Put your health and your family first. 

  2. Have your days work up online by 10.30am - you don't need to be available all day. You may be setting more project oriented work that will keep students busy for a few lessons this is fine.

  3. You are expected to have an online presence daily between 11-1pm only

  4. Keep it simple - one consistent platform (Google Classrooms) for sharing learning activities, one consistent platform for meetups (Google Meet). Now is not the time to collect and spray apps at our learners. 

  5. Keep learning super pared back - what's absolutely essential? Cut out the busy work and noise. 

  6. Focus on keeping up connections and relationships - that's what actually matters. 

  7. Don't stress our learners out about high stakes assessment. There will be plenty of naturally occurring evidence we can curate later if we do the above well. See communication I sent out from NZQA

  8. Make sure that students are getting feedback from you (this is what you should be doing in some of the time that you are not online and available for)

  9. Focus on providing learning and meet up opportunities.  You do not need to take class rolls, monitor engagement etc. 

  10. Do not give students your cell phone number or engage via social media - all communication should be through school channels - school email, Google Classroom, Google Meet/Hangouts

  11. Keep effective communications up with your classes through google classroom

Curriculum Subjects 

  • Provide good learning opportunities, engaging activities and work of value. 

  • You won’t be planning for x minutes worth of learning tasks - plan one learning event.  

    • Consider a source of content/stimulus (screencast, video, podcast, article etc)  then two activities to support/expand on this.

  • Teachers are to be online and available to answer emails, questions etc between 11am-1pm each day

  • If the nature of your NCEA assessment(s) allows students to progress the work at home, then continue to do so. Be mindful of students creating authentic work. How do you know it is their own work?  Our main priority is that our students remain connected and engage in learning.

Assessment and NCEA

  • NZQA will be providing regular updates to schools. All changes to the delivery of NCEA will be communicated directly to staff who can then update plans, processes and procedures accordingly.

  • Unless instructed otherwise, we will still deliver NCEA to the best of our abilities through an online learning environment.

  • NCEA Assessments will only proceed if there is certainty that it is going to be equitable. In making such decisions teachers need to consider students with special assessment conditions, students with device or connectivity needs that haven’t been met, and students who are struggling to have the same level of engagement because of the technological barrier.

  • If the nature of your NCEA assessment(s) allows students to progress the work at home, continue to do so. Our key priority is to keep students connected and engaged in their learning

  • It may be appropriate to simply focus on learning directly associated with the standards offered as part of your course

  • In subjects where there are elements of practical assessment we are keen to look for ways to support learning but recognise the significant challenge this may pose. Associated learning for a standard may continue if the standard is unable to be assessed from home

  • Don’t stress our students out about high stakes assessment. If we do our jobs well there will be naturally occuring evidence that we can curate later to support judgements against assessment schedules

  • For further support and guidance please read Guide to Managing Student Assessment during COVID-19 and Assessment Evidence Gathering Templates.

The Ministry of Education has put together a Learning from home website that has lots of advice on Distance Learning and Information for parents and whānau.

Connecting online

As far as possible, we have checked on student access to devices and the internet through the survey that we asked you to complete. You will be aware that the government has announced a $87million dollar package to help support students during the COVID-19 lockdown. This includes education TV channels, learning packs and free computers.

I’ve worked hard with the Ministry this week to try and secure laptops for our learners that don’t have access to a device at home and am pleased to say that I got confirmation last night that we are in the first tranche of device deliveries out to students which will be happening next week - fingers crossed!

Seeking help and support from teachers

Students are able to email their teachers at any time, but they need to be mindful that they will only respond at some point during the school day (9-3pm). Teachers have been instructed to be available online to students every week day between 11am-1pm. They will be using this time to hold online tutorials through Google Meet, 1-1 conferencing with students etc.. It is imperative that your son checks his email/Google Classrooms frequently to ensure that these opportunities are not missed.

Emails home

I realise that several subject teachers emailing various expectations could get quite overwhelming for students and for you. I am asking teachers to refrain from email communication unless on a 1-1 basis and use scheduled meetings and Google Classroom as the preferred channels for communicating with students.


This is a note from the Ministry of Health. Flutracking is an online survey which asks if you have had a fever or cough in the last week and which can help us track COVID-19.  Registering online will help our surveillance efforts by providing early detection of community spread of the flu and also of COVID-19 symptoms. We encourage people to register online at  . This is a practical thing everyone can do to help us monitor flu and COVID-19 symptoms throughout NZ.

More providers offer childcare options for essential workers

Parents who are essential workers can get additional childcare support if needed during the lockdown. The Government has increased the range of national home-based providers, with some offering care for children aged 0-14, and others ages 5-14. The Ministry of Education website has more details and will be updated as new providers are identified.


I thank you for your continued support and understanding through these challenging times. We are committed to preparing young men for life and will continue to invest all that we can into your son’s education at the college. It seems apt that our pillar for the year is that of family spirit, for it is this that sees us through in times of crisis.

Update 3/4

Ngā mihi ki a koutou,

I thought I would give you an update on what is happening through the school holidays to support students and families when school starts back on Wednesday 15 April..

Distance Learning

The Ministry of Education is working to ensure schools and communities are prepared for distance learning to commence after these school holidays. They are prioritising families and students in most need of support, particularly those in isolated communities and those engaged in NCEA courses.. This may look like ensuring solid digital access by way of devices and internet capability if possible and providing hard copies of work where needed. We have been told we can no longer send resource packs home to students, so aside from what the students currently have, St John’s College is looking at primarily a digital learning environment through Google Classroom and other digital means.

Online safety

As we move into a period of online learning it is important that you discuss internet safety with your children. Please take the time to make agreements with them on what they can do online including sites they can visit and appropriate behaviours including:

  • reviewing and approving games and apps before they are downloaded

  • reviewing privacy settings of sites and applications

  • checking children’s profiles and what they are posting online

  • check the sites your child is accessing

  • reminding children that anything that is posted online will be permanently on the internet

  • taking the time to understand what sites they are visiting and who they are talking with and check in regularly

  • 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 parents and caregivers straight away.

Netsafe is a great place to start if you are grappling with any issues. 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.


There may continue to be some uncertainty around NCEA for some time, NZQA have an awful lot to consider. The shutdown of schools without notice has meant there will be a number of issues to work through as we move forward into term two (beginning 15 April). Due dates, internal assessments, authenticity issues and more will create many questions for the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and all secondary schools.

Please be assured that St John’s College will continue to be both fair and reasonable when students have been negatively impacted by circumstances beyond their control. We will follow directives from NZQA and we have processes in place. Please, if you have any specific concerns around teaching, learning and assessment, contact the staff who can help you. A guideline for the best person contact is below.

School Structures

School leadership and management structures continue throughout lockdown and online learning. If you have specific subject concerns, please start with your son’s teacher. Heads of Faculty or Teacher’s In Charge will be the next port of call for any curriculum issues. Lists of key staff and their email contacts can be found here on the college website.

The start of Term 2 will be no different than the start of any other term, focusing on high quality learning outcomes for all our students. Rest assured, we will continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure that our fine young men get a great education through these challenging times. Good communication between the home and the school will be central to positive outcomes over this time.

I’m probably going to do a video for our learning community next week to outline next steps as we jump into digital learning so if you have any questions please feel free to email me directly - - please put the email subject: Video Q&A. I will endeavour to answer what I can in the video, but please don’t expect individual responses at this time.

I wish you all the best for the remaining ‘holiday’ and I will be in touch late next week with some further updates on digital learning in Term 2.

Update 27/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver and students,

We end term one in a very unconventional and unexpected way, finishing early and with many restrictions being placed upon us to keep us all safe. We will have had plans and hopes as to how we were going to spend our holidays dashed, we need to make the most of things. It is going to be a quiet time. Time to focus on ourselves and those who we are closest to.

I would like to express my thanks to our wider community for being so supportive and patient during these challenging times and for the contributions that you will continue to make to support your son with their learning as we go digital.

I would also like to thank all of our staff who have shown true resolve and innovation over the past couple of weeks to ensure that our fine young men will continue to engage in quality online learning online from the start of Term 2.

To our fine young men of Saint John’s College, I urge you to show what being a Johnnies boy is all about - show true family spirit by working with your parents over the next few weeks and recognising that we are all in this together.

It is a time to work together and recognise that at times, you will have to make compromises, just like everyone else. To show both resolve and restraint, flexibility and structure is going to be important in the weeks ahead. I’ve been impressed with the attitudes I’ve seen as you all start adjusting to a new norm. Enjoy some peace in your lives, away from the pressures of term so that you can return to quite a different approach to your learning in term 2. I know that you will return with enthusiasm and a renewed commitment to study. To our senior students, do not worry about NCEA adn what all this might mean for you, all will come good - so long as you engage with your learning and put 110% effort into your studies.

Make sure that you keep connected with each other, through whatever means you use - Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or dischord or dare I say it… a phone! You are all blessed to be part of a close community, we look after ourselves and our own. When times are difficult we stand tall, shoulder to shoulder and support each other.

I remind you that Mr Borman’s will be leading a liturgy each Wednesday at 7:30pm on our Facebook page, in addition Bishop Steve Lowe is delivering his daily mass from home -

There will be some information and reminders about how students are going to be engaging in online learning sent out towards the end of the holidays. Please keep safe, observe the measures that have put been put in place and stay strong.

Update 24/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

In my correspondence to you yesterday evening there was some important information from government around self-isolating groups and circles of care. We can confirm these groups don’t need to be registered. There are however some very important messages that do need to be understood by all in the group:

  • The intent of forming this group beyond an immediate household is to be able to provide necessary support for people who rely on support from others (eg, elderly people living alone, families who need support with caring for children).
  • In forming this group, everyone in it must understand how crucial it is to keep it tight and to an absolute minimum number of people.
  • Even in a small group people must take care of themselves and others through good hygiene including thorough handwashing and drying, good coughing and sneezing etiquette and physical distancing.

An example could be where an essential worker who is required to work, can have their child cared for by a trusted buddy, as long as they are not elderly or vulnerable. That buddy and the buddy’s own household will need to be included as part of that self-isolating group. However, it is critical that the buddy and their household cannot then have any other external contacts.  As soon as a member of that household has contact with another person (and therefore their household) they all need to be incorporated into the self-isolating group.
Another example could be helping a family with care for their disabled child to give the primary carers some time to rest. But again, you need to be identified as part of their self-isolated group and you cannot have any other contacts other than those in your own household.

I cannot stress the importance of the lockdown that we will be entering at midnight on Wednesday enough. The graphic below is a good reminder as to just how effective physical distancing and staying at home will be to contain levels of infection.

I have had some very positive feedback from teachers today on how they are progressing with planning for online learning, many have started putting learning content onto google classroom ahead of the start of term two. May I remind you that holiday/term dates have changed. The end of Term 1 is now Friday, with Term 2 starting on Wednesday 15 April.

Teachers are going to have a virtual staff meeting via Google Meet tomorrow morning. I will be instructing them not to check their school email during the holidays. They too need time to rest, spend time with family in addition to time that will need to be spent planning for the delivery of an online curriculum in term 2. I ask that you respect this and do not try to contact our teachers during the holiday period.

I appreciate your continued support of the college through the weeks ahead.

Update 23/3

The Prime Minister has today announced we are moving to Level 3 for the next 48 hours and then from 00:01am Thursday 26 March we move to Level 4 in the COVID-19 Alert Level structure for a further period of 4 weeks where people are instructed to stay at home. With this announcement we are implementing with urgency our plan to support your son’s learning from home. We appreciate this is a sudden and significant change, and will be heavily disruptive to many people in our wider community. School holidays will start early, from 30 March to 14 April inclusive. Work will not be set for this time. Teachers will be available between 11am and 1pm from Tuesday to Friday this week. New work will be available online for students from the 15th of April. As students have already had the opportunity to collect books and resources they can no longer come on to the school site, unless attending as an essential workers child.

Parents, please support us by ensuring that your son(s) have joined their google classrooms so that they can access future learning online. All communication to students about work that needs to be completed will be made via google classroom, so it is important that students have checked it by 10am each day, then they are flexible about when they complete the work.

For children of essential workers only, we look forward to seeing your child here at school tomorrow and Wednesday morning at the normal time, they must meet in the atrium at 8:45am. Please note that there will be limited staff supervision and students must bring their own food/drink as there will be no canteen service. Students must bring to school any essential medications as these went home with students today.

You may wish to check if you are considered an essential worker -  However, those roles include doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. We continue to ask that children who are not well, do not attend school. Please note - if you are an essential worker and wanting your son to attend Tue/Wed you must submit this form asap - before tomorrow.

All bus services will run as normal for Tuesday except for Te Awamutu service which is not running. It is unlikely that Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Te Awamutu will run on Wednesday for those children of essential workers.

Important information from Government

If you need to have your child cared for by someone else you will need to identify that person or people as part of your self-isolated group. This will need to be done by midnight Wednesday and the group must remain the same for the whole 4 week period. The caregiver’s own group (eg, their partner and children), your child and your own group (eg, your parents and other children) become one group. This group needs to be limited to minimise any risk of spread and should be no more than 20 people.

Your child will be looking to you for guidance about this decision. Parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers will have a particularly important part to play in reassuring children at this time. If you haven’t already done so, you may wish to read the information put together by the Ministry of Education to support your conversations with your children – Talking to children about COVID-19

As noted by the Prime Minister, these restrictions are our best chance to slow the virus in New Zealand and to save lives. We all have a clear role here to slow the spread of COVID-19.

These are unprecedented times in New Zealand, I thank you for all the support you have given the college over the past week. There will be additional information coming out from me regarding some strategies to support the health and wellbeing of teenagers during this difficult time. Also watch our Facebook page for posts during this period of time.

Update 22/3

We have been proactive in communicating with bus service providers today to ascertain whether there are going to be any issues with services tomorrow. I can confirm that all bar one bus service will be running their normal service tomorrow (Monday) to get the boys to and from school tomorrow. The Te Awamutu bus will not be running tomorrow - if you cannot find an alternative method of getting your son into school please notify us through email -

I will communicate any further updates with you this evening.

Update 21/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I am writing to inform you that our 2 forthcoming parent/teacher interview evenings (Junior-24 March, Senior-2 April) have been cancelled. These are not viable events for us to run in light of COVID-19. But…. all is not lost… Those of you who have made appointments to see teachers will get a short email from them to bring you up to speed on how your son has settled into his studies during this term. You can expect to receive emails regarding students by Friday 27 March for Junior appointments and Friday 3 April for Senior appointments.


Many of you will have seen the PM's address at midday today (Sat 21/3) and her reference to those with compromised immune systems needing to to not go into work and to work from home. School is open as normal from Monday for all students and we expect them to attend. Those students who have compromised immune systems are to stay at home next week.

If your son as a compromised immune system and you will be keeping him away please complete this form before midday on Monday 23 March. There is no need to notify the college of his absence once you have completed this form.

Update 20/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I would like to thank you for your continued support this week, the level of support that we have received from parents completing surveys and supporting their sons has been unprecedented. We continue to strive to maintain Saint John’s College as a high quality learning environment for all students. May I remind you that we are open as normal for school on Monday and expect all students to be in lessons, unless they’ve been instructed by medical practitioners to stay at home.

The last couple of days have demonstrated how much mis-information is out in the public domain so I thought it prudent to share with you what will happen if we were to have a positive case of COVID-19 in our college community:

  • The Principal will be informed by the Medical Officer of Health and Ministry of Education if a case is confirmed at Saint John’s College. This includes students, staff members, or a member of the student or staff member’s household. The college will then work with the Ministry to ensure that parents/caregivers receive clear and immediate notification of the situation.
  • A confirmed case of someone at the college will result in us being asked to close temporarily by the Medical Officer of Health. This will allow time for contact and trace protocols to be put in place, along with appropriate testing. A thorough clean of the school would also be undertaken
  • You have already received initial details on our plan to support online learning should the college have to close temporarily.

I both acknowledge, appreciate and share the concerns that families will be having around the future development of COVID-19 cases and the need to safeguard your own families and whānau. Be assured that with no cases confirmed at Saint John’s College, your sons can come to school in the knowledge that they are in the best, safest place.

Please continue to remind the boys of good hygiene, this is a high priority for us in school, so whatever you can do to emphasise this at home is important. A diagram developed by Dr Siouxsie Wiles is attached to this email. This is useful in helping us consider symptoms. It is important to note that a dry cough and a high temperature are common to both flu and COVID-19. Also, that while sneezing is not a symptom of COVID-19, if someone has COVID-19, then sneezing can spread droplets containing the virus.

To maintain the healthy environment at Saint John’s College please do not send your son to school if he is unwell. If he exhibits any of the symptoms shown as linking to COVID-19 please ensure that he is seen by your doctor.

We continue to receive excellent advice and guidance from both the Ministry of Health and Education and continue to adapt our responses according to the information received in order to maintain a healthy, safe and positive environment for your son.

Encourage the boys to get out there this weekend, stretch their legs, exercise, do the things that boys do, so that they are ready to engage in learning again upon their return to school on Monday.

Update 19/3

Many of you will have watched the Prime Minister on TV last night - the guidelines around self-isolation have changed. I've checked this morning and the Ministry of Health have yet to update any information on their website to reflect this change. The Prime minister is requesting that self-isolation is imposed for all returning travellers over the last 2 weeks, even if not required.

We are aware of some students who have returned from overseas since 4 March but prior to the 1am March 16 cutoff for self-isolation. These students must not attend school until they have seen out the balance of their time (14 days) in self-isolation.

Update 18/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I would like to advise you that with immediate effect I am Acting Principal, Mr Tong has had to go back into hospital due to complications with his knee and we will not be seeing him back this term. We wish him all the very best with a speedy recovery. Currently in New Zealand there is no community transmission of COVID-19 and as such there is no reason for mass school closures in New Zealand at this point in time. We urge all parents to continue to send their sons to school as normal. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the risk to children remains low. The health, safety and wellbeing of all students and staff at the college is of utmost importance. Today there has been a rumour circulating that one of our staff members is infected with COVID-19,I can confirm that this is just a rumour and most certainly not true. Please discuss the importance of not spreading unfounded gossip with your son, it is not helpful under the present circumstances.

Based on information from the Ministry of Education and Health the following actions are being taken to ensure the safety of your children.

  1. All major secondary school sporting events in NZ have been cancelled.

  2. We are following advice on mass gatherings from the government. With immediate effect we are cancelling all assemblies and masses (we will still have extended form time on Wednesdays, during which time a liturgy will be delivered). Our Holy Thursday Liturgy is also cancelled

  3. The BoT and Senior Leadership Team have established a Pandemic Committee which will advise and respond to developments concerning this virus.

  4. The Senior Leadership Team are reviewing all school trips on a case by case basis

  5. The school is completing a review of its readiness to teach your son’s by distance learning in the event that the school has to close. 

  6. The school is ensuring your son’s are receiving appropriate health information which we would like you to reinforce at home.

  7. We are endeavouring as best as possible, to keep school, “business as usual”. This includes providing a high quality, safe learning environment for your children. It is important that you and your children keep well informed on Covid-19 by viewing the Ministry of Health website

  8. If your child is unwell for any reason please keep him at home. I would also encourage you to stay healthy by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and exercise and staying hydrated.

The situation is rapidly evolving and we are ready to respond to new advice and evidence as we receive it. It is important that you are able to access accurate and up to date information as things evolve. We have established a COVID-19 Information page on the college website for this purpose. You can also access updates on EOTC and school events. I would like to say a very big thank you to you all for engaging with our surveys so quickly, we’ve had an excellent level of response and it really helps us to make the right decisions for our learning community. Please carry on what you’re doing!

Please take care of your own health and protect others by washing your hand frequently, following good hygiene practices and make sure that those who are sick don’t go to school, if they need to take time off to get better, do so.


In The Spirit of Saint John,

Dominic Tester

Acting Principal

Update 16/3

Government announced that public events/mass gatherings (>500 people) should be cancelled. As a result of this School Sport NZ has this evening confirmed that all events on the School Sport NZ national calendar are suspended, including the 2020 Aon Maadi Cup in support of the COVID-19 containment measures.

Ministry of Education has asked to evaluate students capability of accessing online learning in the event of school closures. We are asking that all parents complete the survey (it takes about 30secs) for each of the boys you have at the college. The form will be closing at 10am on Wednesday (18/3) morning. It is really important that we get an accurate picture of our learning community so your support is appreciated.

Update 14/3

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are confirmed in New Zealand, but the Ministry of Health advise the chance of a widespread outbreak is low. As noted by the Minister of Health, this doesn’t change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

We have 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home.  Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. While we expect that more cases will arise, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. We all have a role to play in this.

At Saint John’s College our pandemic plan is also ready to be implemented if needed. In the mean time we will continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.

With that, there is a good video clip from Nanogirl that will help your children to better understand the virus - YouTube clip - Nanogirl

You may have also seen the Prime Minister sat down with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard, to talk about coronavirus:

Watch on the PM’s Facebook page

Read and watch on the Newshub website

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. We will be encouraging staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same with your children. Colds and flus are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practicing good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.


Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing.

Preventing the risk 

You can take some simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly: 
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
    • after caring for sick people.

If your son is ill, please be vigilant and consider whether he should be staying at home or coming into school.

Go to the Ministry of Health website for more information about preventing the risk: COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health

What to do if you're concerned

If you have the symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please call Healthline's COVID-19 line: Free call 0800 358 5453

Other Useful Resources

COVID-19 Government Website

COVID-19 Alert Levels

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health

Talking to Children about COVID-19


Current Level of infection in New Zealand

Coronavirus: Answering Kiwis' most commonly searched questions