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When another lockdown took New Zealand by surprise NorthTec's Student Support services were fully prepared. As learners adjusted to a sudden move to online study, NorthTec's support teams moved in to mitigate the effects of another lockdown with academic, financial, and health and wellbeing support ready for those who needed it.
The Student Support and Student Voice teams were quick with their communication. Learners were contacted by email, call, text, and zoom to make sure each of NorthTec’s ākonga were safe, comfortable, and had the support they needed. With classes and deadlines pushed back until the next week, learners had time to evaluate what they needed, and NorthTec’s support teams did what they could to provide.
“Our learners were more prepared for this lockdown,” Student Services Lead Navigator Tanya Tautari advises. “The biggest need was for academic support first, as studies shifted to online.”
Learners were helped to plan their studies, seek extensions or extra support from tutors, and navigate their options with their kaiako. These services are always on offer by NorthTec support teams, and usage increased throughout the lockdown.
The need for financial support also increased over the lockdown. Kristin Rewha-Langdon, Director of Student Management, advises that many students lose income in level 4, or their family members lose work and income. She felt that employers had "fewer reserves this time around and are, lees able to support their workers past the wage subsidy."
Student Support offered financial assistance by: giving advice where needed and connecting students to funds such as; the Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL), which supplies funds for necessities like housing, food, clothing, and more, and the Technology Access Fund for Learners (TAFL) which enables NorthTec to loan out Chromebooks to students in need of technology for their study.
As always, NorthTec is conscious that life's stresses can cause problems for their learners' mental and physical health. Te Whare Hauora (NorthTec’s Health Centre) is frequently busy, but never more so than during lockdown. Pastoral care is also a priority. NorthTec’s Te Whare Hauora offers medical advice and aid and can connect ākonga with external counsellors, working with learners to find the best options for them. Learners can choose to contact Te Whare Hauora over the phone, via zoom, through email, or even just catch-up texts. Physical and mental aid is offered through all levels of Covid and during normal operating times.
Matua Ross, of NorthTec's Te Hāpai Ara, runs a Karakia group that is available for all ākonga and kaimahi every morning at 8:30 am, offering whānaungatanga. Switching over to zoom was seamless during the lockdown, offering a safe place for spiritual and social wellbeing to be practiced. Matua Ross hoped all staff and learners attending would find a place they could be heard, listened to, and part of a support system. The turnout has been fantastic.
NorthTec’s Student Support teams continue to look for ways they can help learners, both through Covid and into what will someday be a post-Covid world. Support is offered on campus or through communication networks to all NorthTec's ākonga. Any students still needing assistance should reach out to Student Support or Student Voice for aid in whatever form they need it.
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