As students begin to trickle back to the classroom, and additional fundraising revenue dwindles, schools will need more support than ever to reintegrate children and address any fallout from the history making lock down period.

New Zealand Principal’s Federation (NZPF) National President Perry Rush said children will all have experienced lockdown differently and we will be mindful of the health and wellbeing of our young people as they return to school.

“Our young people will need a different approach as they return to school, so they can appreciate the COVID-19 context we share with the rest of the globe and adapt to a new normal at school,” he says. “Parents have done a great job holding the fort and supporting home learning, but now is the time to address the challenges of reintegration.

“It’s crucial this pandemic doesn’t trigger unnecessary anxiety or stress for children’s ongoing learning which is why careful reintegration programmes are so important.”

OfficeMax funding to schools through its School Rewards programme has reached $880,000 this year amid unprecedented challenges in the wake of COVID-19.

Mr Rush said that NZPF shared the same values and passion as OfficeMax “to give every Kiwi kid the very best learning opportunities and support that we can.”

“That is why so many schools hold accounts with OfficeMax. They are nimble in their business operations and always ready to rise to a challenge,” he said.

Managing Director Kevin Obern said the funds would help to cover the costs of re-opening schools, meeting new health and safety requirements, and purchasing additional resources to help kids transition back into school life.

“We are very proud of our long-standing relationship with schools, and know that now is the time when they need us the most,” he said.

OfficeMax runs three programmes to assist schools and students, including OfficeMax School Rewards and Max-e Grants.

School Rewards has pumped $6.72 million into the education system since inception in 2005, thanks to parents shopping online or in-store for back-to-school and home office supplies.

Mr Obern said the grants and rewards could be tailored by schools to provide extra support to students returning to school after lockdown, through items like teaching resources and technology.

Rangitoto College has benefited from the programme according to principal Patrick Gale “Rangitoto College’s partnership with OfficeMax continues to have multiple benefits for students and staff. OfficeMax has provided us with credit that we have been able to use to support effective teaching and learning during the recent lockdown period. In addition, we have been able to invest in additional resources for our outstanding International Baccalaureate programme. We look forward to continuing our great relationship with OfficeMax in the future.”

OfficeMax New Zealand also supports children’s helpline 0800 What’s Up - run by Barnardos NZ - which has recorded a 50 per cent spike in calls during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mr Obern said it was clear schools would need to consider increasing supports to students in a range of different ways.

“The extra funding provided through our programmes can make a world of difference in students’ lives, and enrich the overall school experience.”

He said the Max e-Grants initiative - which provides financial support and essential education-related items to children in need, aged four to 18 - had been left open so no one missed out on the application dates. To date the programme has given away over $1 million.

Schools, kindergartens and day care centres can nominate disadvantaged kids for grants of up to $5,000.

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