Karamu High School - COVID-19 Information

Karamu High School is OPEN

COVID-19 update 4 June 2020

NCEA Update

Tēnā koe,

I hope you and your whānau are well.

We know some of our students - and their whānau - are worried that they might not be able to attain NCEA or UE this year, because of the disruption caused by COVID-19.

To help address this and support students, the following changes are being made to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) requirements for this year:

  • Students working towards an NCEA can gain additional credits, based on the number of credits they achieve during the 2020 school year. These additional credits will be known as Learning Recognition credits. For every 5 credits a student achieves towards their NCEA either through internal or external assessment, they are entitled to an additional 1 credit. Students at NCEA Level 1 are eligible for up to a maximum of 10 additional credits while those at Levels 2 and 3 are eligible for up to a maximum of 8 additional credits.
  • Students will be awarded a certificate endorsement if they achieve 46 credits at Merit or Excellence level, rather than the usual 50. Students achieving 12 credits at Merit or Excellence level in a course – rather than 14 – will be awarded a course endorsement.
  • Current UE requirements have been reduced from 14 to 12 credits in three UE-approved subjects. Students still need to attain NCEA Level 3 and meet literacy and numeracy requirements to be awarded University Entrance.
  • External NCEA examinations and NZ Scholarship examinations will now take place from 16 November 2020 to 9 December 2020. This will provide extra time for teaching, learning and assessment in Term 4.
  • The submission date for subjects which require students to submit a portfolio (for example, Design and Visual Communications) has been extended to 12 November 2020, to give students more time to complete their portfolios.

These changes have been designed to encourage students to continue working towards their NCEA and to ensure that the NCEA attained this school year is just as valid as those earned in previous years.

If you have any queries about the changes, please contact DP-Curriculum Mr Aron Noble on [email protected] 

Nga mihi

Dionne Thomas

Dionne Thomas

COVID-19 update 29 May 2020

Update 15

Slowly but surely many more school routines are starting to return which is great. 

Students are practicing for winter sport, engaging in learning and assessments are being sat. These are exciting times. However, we cannot be complacent. It is important we continue following Health and Safety mechanisms to ensure we keep Covid-19 at bay so students feel physically and mentally safe at school. Because of this we will be continuing abiding by the following mechanisms for the remainder of this term:

  • Beginning of school form times every day
  • Hand sanitizing at entry and exit of every class;
  • Spaced seating in classes;
  • Physical distancing encouraged at break and lunchtime;
  • No use of school drinking fountains (please continue to have children bring a drink bottle)
  • Virtual Year level assemblies
  • Staggered finishing at the end of the day ie:
    1. Year 9 and 10: finish at 2.50pm
    2. Year 11-13: finish at 3pm

These are minor changes in our ‘old’ routines, which become the ‘new’ routine, to ensure we can all feel a little bit safer. 

Parent Survey

We would like to gather your voice to help us learn from whanau experiences during the lock-down period. It will have the added benefit of providing a useful summary to assist us if we ever find ourselves having to return to Alert Level 3 or 4.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey here: Survey

Parents Visiting School

A reminder the Ministry of Health have advised ALL visitors on our site, which includes parents and caregivers, must sign in at the register located at the front office while we remain in Alert Level 2. Please record your name, date, time in and out, where they visited and phone and physical address. This information is important for the process of contact tracing, should it be required to track down and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This includes if you are just ‘dropping off’ lunch, a drink bottle, an EFT-POS card, a pair of shoes etc. Please support us in all we are doing, by doing your part.

I wish all our families an enjoyable Queens Birthday weekend.

Nga mihi

Dionne Thomas

Dionne Thomas

COVID-19 update 20 May 2020

Update 14

Many times this week I have been asked am I happy to have the students back, my answer - ABSOLUTELY! Schools are just a bunch of buildings without students. Students are the life and heart of our school and it has been so heartwarming to have their presence back. The chat, the laughter, the screeching and the yelling are what makes our school a special place.

Students and staff have been taking the time to reconnect, wellbeing has been supported and learning has begun to be incorporated back into student's routines. Our ‘new normal’ is being imagined.

We will continue the following Health and Safety support mechanisms to ensure students feel physically and mentally safe in returning to school:

  • Daily beginning of school form times NB: Wednesday Formtime is 9am, every other day is 8.35am;
  • Hand sanitizing at entry and exit of every class;
  • Spaced seating in classes;
  • Physical distancing encouraged at break and lunchtime;
  • No use of school drinking fountains (please continue to have children bring a drink bottle).

As with all good Health and Safety practices we have been reviewing these daily and we have reviewed our Year Level assemblies. While we were able to ‘physically distance’ seat the students, so they were not touching or ‘sharing breath’, having over 200 in one space meant when they were leaving the area they were inevitably going to touch. Therefore, these will now be replaced with an additional form time and the Dean or SLT will Zoom in with collective messages. 

Students not attending yet

A small group of children and their whanau have made an informed decision to not yet return to school. All of these are on a case by case basis, due to high health needs, compromised health or anxiety. As a school we respect these decisions and hope to see you back soon. If these whanau can continue to keep communicating with teachers and the office around their absence and intended return to school we would appreciate it. 

Pink Shirt Day

Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying, after a peer was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. In Aotearoa, Pink Shirt Day aims to create schools, workplaces, communities and whānau where all people feel safe, valued and respected. We will celebrate Pink Shirt Day on Friday 29 May with a Mufti Day where all students can wear mufti if they are wearing a clothing item that is pink. A gold coin donation will be collected in formtime and this will go to the Mental Health Foundation. #ProudlyHastings

Parents Visiting School

Some schools nationally have fiercely restricted parent access to schools ie: NO parents on site. We did not want to do this as we believe Karamu is school where we welcome whanau. However, the Ministry of Health have advised ALL visitors, which includes parents and caregivers, must sign in at the register located at the front office, recording name, date, time in and out, where they visited and phone and physical address. This information is important for the process of contact tracing, should it be required to track down and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

This includes if you are just ‘dropping off’ lunch, a drink bottle, an EFT-POS card, a pair of shoes etc. Please support us in all we are doing, by doing your part.

I wish all our families continued strength and safety as we travel this new path.

Nga mihi

Dionne Thomas

Dionne Thomas

COVID-19 update 15 May 2020

Update 13

Welcoming all staff and students back to school
We hope Update 12 gave assurance all staff and students it will be safe when returning on site. However, checking on student’s wellbeing is the first and most important job staff will do. We acknowledge the time it will take for children and staff to reconnect and relax will be different for everyone. Wellbeing needs to be addressed before learning will happen. 

The support mechanisms we will be using to ensure students feel physically and mentally safe in returning to school are:

  • Daily beginning of school form times for week one (as the Form Teacher is a key person is your child’s learning journey)
    NB: Wednesday Formtime is 9am, every other day is 8.35am
  • Any student showing signs of concern (upset, anxious, scared etc) will be supported by their Year Level Dean
  • Mr Mark Rolls the SchoolCounsellor is always available to assist students
  • The Senior Leadership Team of Mr Wayne Wooster, Mr Damien Hollands and Mr Aron Noble will support all layers of staff

We acknowledge this next step in our journey may be exciting for some, but create anxiety for others, but by returning to school we hope the following happens:

  • Children get to see their friends, their teachers, their classrooms, the school grounds. We will give them time to reacquaint themselves with these aspects but plan to do it in safe physical distancing ways;
  • Students will be confronted with many changes. They will need to learn new routines but be comforted by the old ones like their subject timetable, when lunchtime is etc.
  • Our usual expectation of wearing our uniform with pride will return, but we appreciate we may need to be a little relaxed about haircuts for awhile to take stress off families waiting for hairdressers to get up and going ???? ;
  • Distracting children from things they find distressing is important. While acknowledging children’s sadness, fear or anxiety activities in class allow us to gently move to another activity;
  • Making plans, talking about the future, and discussing new possibilities are also part of healing and moving forward in a positive way;
  • Children need to get outside at break or get fully involved in Physical Education classes because games, physical challenges, and getting outdoors can release energy and tension as well as provide a break from indoor activities but, of course, these must be done within current limitations;
  • Children look to trusted adults to know how to respond and how to construct their personal narrative of events. Staff acting in a calm but empathetic manner models that we can still choose how to talk and behave despite all we have been through.

(Adapted advice from Professor Carol Mutch Education Commissioner for UNESCO New Zealand, a researcher in disaster response and recovery)

Self-help tools
Your child may need additional help in the future, and we encourage these tools:

  • SPARX is a computerised self-help program for children aged 12-19. Research has found that SPARX helped children who were feeling down, depressed or anxious to feel better. SPARX is unique as it incorporates a fantasy setting with the use of graphics and customized playing design characters. Children reported that they found SPARX to be very helpful, and they learnt self-help skills in order to feel better. Your child can use SPARX as well as getting other types of help.
  • Aroha is a chatbot to help young people with practical evidence-based tools for managing stress and practical ideas to maintain social connection, and to stay active and well through youth-friendly digital activities.
  • Free call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day if you are feeling anxious, depressed or just want to talk through your feelings. You’ll get to talk to (or text with) a trained counsellor. 
  • Mr Marks Rolls – our school counsellor is available to any student or whanau through his email [email protected]

NCEA Changes
We are pleased to advised the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have advised a series of changes to NCEA this year in a two-step process designed to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

 The changes, effective immediately, are to:

  • delay external NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship examinations so they start on 16 November instead of 6 November, allowing additional time for teaching, learning and internal assessment in Term 4. Examinations will now finish on 9 December 2020. An amended examination timetable will be available on NZQA’s website soon.
  • extend the submission date for subjects that require students to submit a portfolio, such as Design and Visual Communication, from 28 October to 12 November 2020, giving students more time to prepare
  • waive the requirement for NZQA verification of Level 1 and 2 Visual Arts portfolios, allowing students more time to complete their portfolios and teachers more time for marking.

Secondly, the Ministry of Education and NZQA will consider how to address equity issues arising from the disruption caused by Covid-19.  They recognise that students, teachers and schools are affected in different ways by COVID-19, and it’s important to provide a fair opportunity for students to achieve NCEA this year.  We will update you when these changes are finalised.

Bus information
As we need to be able to contact trace our students using the bus, we must have up to date lists each day.  A roll will be taken each morning and afternoon as the buses arrive and depart.  Students must get their name signed off once they get off and on the bus at school.

  • Nimons and WBL (Waipawa Bus Limited)
  • Passengers must remain seated and not move from seat to seat.  On the WBL run numbers can fluctuate and there may be occasions where passengers may need to stand.  
  • Both providers would prefer tickets to be purchased through their offices:
  • WBL: manually over the phone with credit card or by going to their Manchester Street office). 
  • To further reduce the handling of cash WBL Frederick Street pick ups (1:00 coin fare) will be temporarily stopped.
  • Nimons: can pay for tickets over the phone or via internet banking.
     The bus driver will then hold the tickets for these passengers.
  • Note:  The drivers will still have tickets to purchase if necessary.
  • Go Bus: https://www.gobay.co.nz/ have information regard their services here

Any questions in regard to bus services can be answered by calling or emailing the bus services directly.

WBL Ph:  870 8740.  email:  [email protected]
Nimons  Ph: 06 877 8133 ext 829 [email protected]
Go Buses  Ph: 8789250

Getting ready to return to school
After spending the last 7 weeks at home children will need some support in being ready to return to school on Monday. Please work with them over the weekend to ensure they have a positive return on Monday by completing this checklist:

  • All Uniform items clean (including shoes)
  • Device charged
  • Books for Monday
  • Pens, pencils, ruler, calculator (as they will not be able to share stationary) 
  • Lunch packed (as the canteen will be only offering a limited amount of hot items)
  • Filled drink bottle of water
  • PE gear if required
  • Leave home in plenty of time to be at school by 8.30am for an 8.35am start

Staff are looking forward to supporting students in their return.

As we take steps in this new direction, we learn to value what is precious and to face the future with renewed hope.
Should you have any questions around your child’s return please make contact with us.

Enjoy the weekend with your family and friends.

Dionne Thomas

Dionne Thomas

COVID-19 update 12 May 2020

Update 12

Kia ora koutou katoa

A decision has now been made that we will move to Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13 May. 

School’s however, were always to be given a weeks' notice and so we will open on Monday 18 May. It is expected all students will return to school unless:

  • A member of the household is unwell with Covid-19;
  • Your child is unwell with any of the symptoms of Covid-19.

Should your child not be attending school because they are unwell you must advise the office by phoning the School Absence Line on 8706143 giving the reason.

We have been advised for students who have a household member who is at-risk due to serious illness or if they themselves are at risk, there is no reason for them not to return to school. The public health measures we have deployed will minimise risk. If you have a child who might be vulnerable to serious illness and would like to discuss a ‘return to school’ plan for them, please contact me as soon as possible.

The key controls for schools to re-open under Covid-19 Alert Level 2 are:

  • ensure people with COVID-19 symptoms or feel generally unwell stay away from school;
  • maintain physical distancing (in schools this means children, young people, and staff maintaining a physical distance so that they are not breathing on or touching each other);
  • enable good hygiene practices;
  • keep track of people that enter school.

Our Health and Safety measures we are putting place are:


  • We will start each day next week at 8.35am with a formtime outlining all these Health and Safety guidelines;
  • Drinking fountains have been decommissioned so please bring bottled water from home;
  • Students will be lined up outside every classroom to minimize the contact on door handles. If a door can be propped or wedged open it should be.

Inside the classroom

  • Classrooms will be set up in exam style seating where possible, creating 1m spacing;
  • Marking of attendance has never been more important for contact tracing. Students must arrive at school on time and if they need to leave during the day they must sign in and out at the Office;
  • Each time a student enters and exits the room they need to use the hand sanitizer provided;
  • Practical equipment used in the likes of physical education, science and technology must be cleaned between each use.


  • Sports (on school grounds) – physical activities including can go ahead. Physical distancing is not possible in some sporting activities, so in these situations extra emphasis on handwashing and drying (or cleansing with hand sanitizer) before and after activities and regular cleaning of equipment is very important.
  • Cultural activities - practices and rehearsals will be able to go ahead (a physical distancing recommendation of 1m distance where practicable, for singing and wind instruments). 
  • For sports and cultural practices that use external coaches they must sign in the visitors register at the front of school (for tracking and tracing purposes).

Outside the Classroom

  • Each set of student toilets is currently having its fabric handrolls being replaced with hand dryers;
  • Year 13’s can continue to use their Study to arrive after P1 and leave for P5 but they are NOT to leave the premises at any other time;
  • Queues at the school office and the canteen will be clearly marked using 2 metre spacing on the ground/walls;
  • Students are encouraged to sit 1m spaced at break and lunchtime;
  • Only 6 students will be able to sit at the tables around the canteen;
  • Contact tracing has implications for break and lunchtime. We will be asking students to consider keeping their own record of who in addition to their classmates, they were in ‘close contact’ with each day (as they would need to do for other close contacts they had in their personal time).
  • Assemblies will go ahead however, because we need to maintain sufficient distance between students, so they aren’t touching or breathing directly on each other, they will be only Year level. So Monday’s will be SLT Year Level Assemblies and Friday’s Dean’s Assemblies.

Parents Visiting School

  • We will need to record all visitors on site, including parents and caregivers, in the visitor register located at the front office, recording names, date, time in and out, where they visited and phone and physical address. This information is important for the process of contact tracing, should it be required to track down and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

End of the School Day

  • The end of the day will be staggered to reduce congestion
    - Year 9 and 10: finish at 2.50pm
    - Year 11-13: finish at 3pm
  • Please clear the school site as promptly as possible

Bus services

Our school transport services also plan to return to normal schedules from Monday 18 May. The ongoing safety of our students and the ability to contact trace are a priority on these services therefore, we must provide our transport providers with up-to-date bus lists and keep records to enable contact tracing to take place.   We also need to provide certainty for them around numbers intending to use buses.

We therefore must get an accurate picture of who intends to use buses next week to attend school. If your child/ren will be using a bus next week you must complete the bus survey at this link:  BUS SURVEY

Please complete by 2pm Wednesday 13 May. 

Our bus providers will ensure:

  • Hand sanitizers will be available for each student to use as they board the bus.
  • Buses and surfaces will be sanitized after each journey by the transport company.
  • Seats in close proximity to the driver will be left empty. 

If you have any questions in regards to bus services please contact Aron Noble: [email protected]

Health & Well-being

  • Symptoms to monitor for are any respiratory symptoms such as a cold, a head cold, blocked ears, cough, sneezing, chills and a fever. Anyone with these symptoms should not attend school. If these symptoms are observed children will be kindly and warmly instructed to go to the Office immediately. Home will be rung and they must be picked up as soon as possible. 
  • If we are connected to a confirmed or probable Covid-19 case, we must close for 72 hours. This time will allow for contact tracing and cleaning to take place. We could then remain closed for an additional 14 days.
  • If a child is self-isolating or can't return to school due to personal or health reasons, remote learning may still be available. 
  • The general advice from the Ministry of Health regarding the widespread use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been consistent. Members of the public are not required to wear masks or other PPE. This advice carries over to the school setting as well. The information originally set out by the Ministry of Education indicates that in level 2, PPE is not "required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by the Public Health Service".

In returning to school we are laying new tracks and starting a new journey, while at the same time healing our systems. It is therefore important we take the time to care for all communities while these paths are created. Staff, students and parents can support each other in this process of recovery by being patient, supportive and showing aroha.

By being together in this crisis we will emerge stronger together after it.

Should at anytime you have queries or questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

We are all in this together, he waka eke noa.  


Dionne Thomas

Dionne Thomas

Visit our COVID-19 archive for previous updates