All schools reopening straight after lockdown ‘not going to happen’ – Education Minister

Do not expect school to immediately go back to normal after the alert Level 4 lockdown lifts, Education Minister warned parents today.

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Students in a classroom. Source: istock.com

Presenting to the epidemic select committee, Chris Hipkins said parents should be preparing for a variety of different scenarios for potentially keeping children at home for longer than the end of the lockdown.

“It would be wrong to assume all schools and early learning services would simply reopen as we move out of Level 4 lockdown. That’s not going to happen frankly.

“I’m not saying they won’t reopen at all, but simply saying they’ll all be open from day one isn’t a realistic option.”

He anticipated there would be greater clarity of what would happen “hopefully in the next week and a half”.

“It’s likely to be a progressive warming up of the system again, rather than a big bang all at once.”

When asked by National MP Nikki Kaye if there would be a package on the way around extra childcare support, Mr Hipkins said they were “planning for a whole variety of scenarios”.

He said that included those high-risk teachers and students who live in a household with people deemed at high risk.

The Covid-19 pandemic had also showed the “significant role” many grandparents played in childcare, with Mr Hipkins saying the Government needed “to look really closely at what other support can be available”.

Mr Hipkins said the Government was working on safety issues such as social distancing in schools and workforce challenges due to the level of teachers deemed at high risk to Covid-19.

When the country moved to alert Level 3, only children of essential workers were able to attend school.

But Mr Hipkins said it was likely the “stepping down” criteria of moving back to Level 3 would be different from when the country moved up to Level 4.

“Don’t assume when we move from 4 to 3, whenever that may be, that everything will go back at once.”

Yesterday, an $87.7 million emergency funding boost was announced including 17,000 laptops, 10,000 internet connections and two new television channels for education-related content.

One of the channels will be provided by TVNZ, taking the place of TVNZ2 +1 on Freeview 7 and Sky 502, with beloved children’s TV star Suzy Cato confirmed to be involved.

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(ANNA WHYTE, 1 NEWS POLITICS REPORTER  ) Retrieved from: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/all-schools-reopening-straight-after-lockdown-not-going-happen-education-minister