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Campuses reopen their doors as New Zealand emerges from COVID-19 pandemic

16 July 2020

‘Our number one priority is to assure the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff’: How Study Group Centres and Colleges in New Zealand are returning to normal.

As lockdown lifts in New Zealand and life returns almost to normal, Study Group is delighted to be welcoming students back to campus. Following months of online teaching, Taylors College Auckland and Waikato Pathways College have now opened their doors to current onshore students who remained in the country throughout this period.

Taylors College Auckland Principal Lindsay Spedding said: “We were fortunate in that the general environment was deemed to be safe. So we felt secure [to open the College].”

New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as they enforced strict lockdown measures early on. With very few new cases emerging, restrictions have now all been lifted except for the borders, bringing with it a feeling of safety and sense of normality.

Cindy, a Taylors Auckland student currently in New Zealand and continuing her studies, shares: “I think New Zealand is a very safe country from now, I think. I think in this period of time, when I go outside and not wear mask now, because I think fewer people wear masks now. I think it's quite safe because in each shop has hand sanitizer.”

Safety and wellbeing on campus

In preparation for opening, our Centres and Colleges developed comprehensive plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and students, including hand sanitiser points and one way systems around campus.

Whilst relaxation of restrictions by the New Zealand Government means some of these measures are no longer needed, student support remain a top priority.

Compliance and Business Services Manager at Taylors College Auckland, Lawrence Xu-Nan, said: “It’s always easier to go down a restriction level than to go up, so we were able to make adjustments to the plan very quickly. What is still very important and crucial to us is the mental wellbeing of our staff and students.”

Online classes continue for offshore students

While international borders remain closed, classes are continuing online for newly enrolled students or those not currently in New Zealand. Study Group’s Chief of Staff for Australia and New Zealand, Peter Jones, explains: “We are preparing for the day when the international borders reopen and we can welcome international students [not already in the country] into our campuses.

“We’ll be there every step of that journey, providing support and guidance to help each student transition from online to on-campus learning.”

How staff and students adapted

Peter Jones praises the agility, flexibility and resilience of staff and students in their response to COVID-19 when teaching transitioned to virtual classrooms back in March.

He added: “Our student wellbeing and support teams quickly adapted to ‘the new normal’ and provided comprehensive academic and non-academic advice and guidance to our students. Their role in ensuring the health and mental wellbeing of our students has never been more important.”

Working together to ensure student success

Study Group’s Centres and Colleges work closely with one another and our partner universities to share knowledge and best practice. By collaborating across our global network to approach the challenges of COVID-19, we continued to deliver a high-quality teaching and learning experience for our students.

Lindsay Spedding shared: “There’s been a great generosity between sharing material and sharing tips. It’s been an exercise in how when people really work together you get a better result.

“It’s interesting to see how each campus has approached the problem. It’s not been uniform but nonetheless there’s been a lot of sharing ideas, so you can use colleagues as a sounding board for what’s going to work. That’s the thing that impressed me.”

Blended learning from expert facilitators

In a continually changing global situation and uncertainty around international travel, it is likely that a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching and learning will continue for some time to come. Classes have been carefully considered to help students remain engaged wherever they are in the world and a blended learning approach ensures they have access to everything they need.

What’s next?

Health and safety risk assessments are taking place across our global Centres and Colleges to prepare for reopening campuses when we feel it is safe and possible to do so. In Australia, we are now open to onshore students at Flinders International Study Centre, Taylors College Perth and High School Program students at Taylors College Sydney.

Find out the latest news and updates on our COVID-19 information page.

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