The Bruce House Lockdown Bubble!

August 26, 2020 at 10:27 AM

At the end of the school day when others have gone home for the night, over 100 students head up to Bruce House to share dinner, do homework and settle for the night. When Auckland went into Alert Level 3, the majority of our boarders were able to safely travel home to their families, but for others, especially our international students, travel was not possible. Currently we have 33 boarders of all ages who have remained onsite at Bruce House, teaming up with the Bruce House duty staff and kitchen crew to form one big, friendly bubble!

From the outset, the importance of keeping to daily routines was recognised, with modifications made for distance learning. Like their student counterparts at home, the boarders adhered to the College daily routine of early morning tutor time, followed by six periods of classes, with a set time for morning tea and lunch. But at the end of the school day, they all changed gear!

Head of Boarding, Mr Martin Piaggi said, ‘For many Aucklanders the Level 3 Lockdown is taking its toll and for some it could be a lonely time. For the duty staff, their families and the 33 boarders who have remained at Bruce House, it is a completely different experience and it is definitely not lonely! We have collaborated as a close, micro-community. Within our bubble, we have the routine of a 7.30am till 3.30pm school day, but once 3.30pm comes around, we’ve created a clear separation from school work. Aided and driven by the six prefects who have remained, along with other Year 13’s, the whole house, including staff and their families, have engaged in PLAY! There is no room for egos or inhibitions. There is no cool group or geeky group. The House is as one - but, depending on the activity, it can be fiercely competitive! This inclusive, collaborative cooperation has manifested itself in a palpable, positive shift. We often talk about the tight-knit Bruce House community. During Level 3 lockdown, we no longer have to talk about it - you can simply feel it!

From games of touch rugby to badminton, basketball, netball, volleyball, bull rush, dodgeball, football,  good old fashioned board games, movie nights, games of spotlight and birthdays to celebrate, there was plenty going on with the youngest boys and girls mixing with their older peers and staff families without inhibition. Whether it was a school night or the weekend, the fun continued and activities such as creating mummies and wedding dresses out of the much lauded ‘Lockdown Loo Roll’ and relay races with balloons all became family night fun.  It was great to hear and see so much laughter and smiles from the boarders. To keep parents up to date, students took turns writing a daily blog so parents could join in the fun from afar!

One boarder wrote, ‘The Bruce House community has become even more of a real family under Level 3 restrictions, building new bonds with students, some of whom we might have had little contact with prior to lockdown, but whom we now see as brothers and sisters.’ Another said, ‘Today the bond that we have built together in our bubble was evident. While it’s only been a few days into lockdown, the relationships between differing students have become more and more comfortable, truly making Bruce House our second family and home.’

Head of Girls’ Boarding, Mrs Bridget Anitelea summed it up. ‘I cannot speak highly enough of the incredible students we have under our care. They have all been phenomenal in following our school day structures and routines and have been equally amazing participating together in social activities every afternoon and evening. This is one very special bubble!

The Bruce House Duty team have done an amazing job over the past 20 days. Along with teaching their classes on-line and looking after their own families, they have also committed each day to contributing to the wellbeing of the 33 boarders who have remained. We couldn’t wish for a better group of people. They have offered their time and energy with enthusiasm and for this we offer our sincere thanks. 

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