Back on campus after lockdown

Tertiary institutions are now open, with in-person classes gradually resuming. But for some trades students, practical assessments on campus have been happening since Alert Level 3. 

NZMA’s Monique Le Marque, general manager of operations and business development, says small groups of invited students were able to come on campus for practical assessments thanks to careful health protocols. 

There were four cohorts from three trades – two for construction, one for electrical engineering, and one paint and plaster cohort. This included 10 MPTT students.

Monique says trainees were excited to get back into hands-on work after learning from home during the Level 4 lockdown.

“The morning greetings warmed the atmosphere with a glow of enthusiasm, as students were excited to get into practical tasks – whether cutting and nailing timber, wiring switch boards or plastering walls.

“It was good to see the drop saws in action, and hearing students talking and laughing was positive and gave us all a sense of some level of normality.”

The ongoing Covid-19 restrictions at Level 3 did make it difficult for some students to attend in-person classes, she says.

“Students were keen to get back to campus, however limited public transport seemed a challenge for some. With schools closed, childcare and home schooling priorities also prevented some students from attending.”

For NZMA to open safely, students and staff carefully followed public health advice. Each person registered electronically at the foyer on arrival, via a QR code or NZMA’s website. Masks, gloves and sanitiser were available for everyone on campus, and people were asked to bring their own meals and drink vessels. Each small cohort was allocated break times, so they didn’t interact with other bubbles on site. 

In line with the staggered approach the Government has outlined for Level 2, NZMA is gradually phasing in its classes on campus. 

“Even though campuses can reopen, it’s important to remember this is not a return to normal, and we have a responsibility to ensure physical distancing and contact tracing measures take place,” says Monique. 

“A phased approach allows us to manage the risks associated with reintroducing large groups of people in one go, and ensures we can confidently adhere to the Ministry of Health and Education requirements for on-campus learning for all our students and staff.”

This means many students have continued distance learning until the guidelines are reviewed, with only classes that are more practical resuming at first. 

Monique says students have adjusted well to learning from home, and NZMA has loaned devices to those who didn’t have their own to use.

“For some of our learners, online learning seemed difficult to comprehend at first. However, once the first hurdle was bridged and they became more familiar with online learning, they adapted well. 

“Students have been positive about continuing their learning and having a routine to keep them actively engaged throughout the lockdown.”

For more about how New Zealand’s recovery from the coronavirus impacts you and the trades industry, check out our Covid-19 page. We’ve pulled together advice, links and resources for our Māori and Pasifika communities and the trades industry, and we’ll continue to update it as the information changes.