Edgecumbe school back in action

Edgecumbe Primary School principal Kahu Walker and his daughter Awatea were among those enjoying the re-opening of Edgecumbe schools this week.

Awatea was meant to have her first day at school on the day of the flooding, but her Dad had wisely made the decision to close the school that day, so she didn’t get to start until Monday.

Twelve year old Edgecumbe Primary School student Tom Gray said he was glad to be back after three and a half weeks.

“It’s pretty good to get out of the house. Everyone’s a bit tired but relieved to be back at school.”

Tom’s Mum is working full time as part of the flood recovery team, so he knows a thing or two about how big the clean-up job is. He says that there are still signs of the flood at his school. “A couple of trees have fallen over and there’s a high fence round the back field – but all the classrooms are clean and dry.”

“My teacher got everyone to tell their stories from the flood. One boy, he was right at the wall with his Mum to see how high the water was when it broke. They ran back to their house and it was knee deep in water already. That must’ve been pretty freaky!”

Te Kōhanga Reo o Patutaatahi has not been able to re-open in its usual location due to a higher level of damage.

The local Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust office has advised us that the kōhanga has been offered space at Edgecumbe Rugby Club. The kohanga whanau will spend the rest of this week preparing the space for Ministry Licensing on Friday. We will prioritise this work so that the kohanga can begin operating on Monday 8 May 2017.

We have provided a wide range of support to the principals and their boards since the flooding. We understand how important it is for children to have normal routines re-established as soon as possible after an incident like this.

As soon as we were able we had our emergency assessors go into both schools to identify what needed to happen to enable the schools to re-open. A plan was drawn up and contractors began the tasks required.

At both schools this included testing and ensuring the infrastructure systems were operational – fire alarms, boilers and heating, storm water and waste water drainage, and the availability of drinking water.

At the college this included placing temporary fencing around some areas of the playing fields and also three flood damaged buildings.

The primary school also has fencing around some of its playing fields. We will get the affected fields from both schools tested to determine if there is any residual contamination.

We are also dedicating staff who are experts in dealing with traumatic events to be in the schools for at least the first two weeks of the school term. They will move between the primary school, college and early learning centres to provide support to both students and staff.


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