Mr Witika – taking care of our school during lockdown

By Heta Witika
Westlake Girls High School Caretaker

While in the Covid-19 lockdown, I am here at school as I live onsite in the Caretakers house. I have lived here for coming up to 10 years now in my role as Caretaker. Thus, making the house and school my isolation bubble.

During this past week it has been so eerie here at school with it being empty, no students and teachers, the car parks empty, and no noise or bells ringing.

The traffic is minimal, and it is strange not being woken up by the first Atlas Concrete truck starting up every morning at 5am. Surprisingly, there are several groups of people walking, running, and cycling past on Wairau Road.

There is still quite a lot I can do around the school. A lot of work is done by the Property team and me during the term breaks. But due to health and safety regulations, some work I cannot do while alone on site.

This week I am taking care of an entire school check, with everyday beginning with checking for vandalism, graffiti and break-ins. By Day 4 I had already had to ask two men to leave the turfs, as they had scaled the fence and were playing soccer.

Each day I wander through the 12 buildings, checking the 113 classrooms and 32 toilet blocks. In these checks I am looking and fixing doors, handles, window latches and dust alarm sensors, as spiders and their webs are known to activate the alarms at times. I also turn off all power points and plugs saving the school approx. $200 per week, and also check all lights for faulty bulbs which will be changed when it is safe to do so, then closing all lower level class curtains to deter anyone looking into the rooms. I am also watering plants throught out the school and mowing lawns as required.

My day in Lockdown: My partner and I are lucky to be able to use the Turfs for an early morning walk/run before I go up to the school to complete my school checks and a few hours work. I’m also lucky to be able to come home for lunch and then do some work from a list of to-do jobs here at home. My partner and I then sometimes may have a few games of tennis or kick a ball around to keep fit. My evening consists of dinner and then a board game or card game or otherwise I enjoy word puzzles or watching movies.

I am looking forward to the most after Lockdown is being able to see my three daughters, as they are all isolating away from here. I also have two grandchildren from my partners side, so it’s been difficult not seeing them all. I’m also  looking forward to getting back to the gym and going fishing!

Stay Safe, Be kind.

Nga Mihi

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