Thursday, December 9

Parents weigh health and education issues in the face of prolonged school closings

Parents of Auckland school students are divided over whether in-person learning should resume, and some are concerned that their children will fall behind in their education.

Teenager studying at desk and doing homework

Photo: 123RF

This comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland schools will not reopen next week and that students will continue to learn from home.

Some parents have to juggle full-time work while making sure their children complete their homework.

Shannon Maximus’ son is in his freshman year of high school, and she said the longer the confinement lasts, the more frustrated and lonely the teenager becomes.

“Like any other teenager, he really values ​​his social life and hanging out with his friends. He’s an only child, so it’s hard not to have anyone or children his age in the home.

“If it continued, and they weren’t allowed to go back to school and couldn’t socialize with their peers, that would be detrimental to anyone’s health.”

As Auckland’s lockdown drags on into its ninth week, Maximus is also concerned that the 13-year-old is falling behind in his studies.

“He has to be a real entrepreneur and I don’t know many 13-year-olds who have developed that personality trait … I am concerned that he is not acquiring the knowledge that should be imparted throughout the school year in a normal environment.”

But for Amber De Silva, the experience has been quite different. The mother of four said the time locked up has been invaluable to them as a family.

While the confinement has had its challenges, and in-person learning is still preferable, she was concerned about sending them back before vaccination levels are high enough.

“We were really relieved that they made that call because we were so anxious. My husband even went so far as to say that I don’t want to send them to school.”

All of your children have attended online classes at least once a day and have completed assignments set by the school.

He said he had been impressed by his teachers, who had done everything they could to make sure students were well cared for and happy.

“Our little one, the first week I was crying about it, and then I went up to the teachers and said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ and they explained to me that the classroom and the school are not usually a part of the home. We have created those two different areas “.

Sacha O’Callaghan is the mother of two teenage daughters. She said that while nothing beats learning in person, she also wasn’t comfortable sending them back to school just yet.

“I would love for the kids to come back, not that I’m sick of them or anything, but they want to see their friends. But I didn’t feel like it was safe. They were both fully vaccinated, but they still can’t transmit Covid, they can get it and transmit it. social distancing doesn’t work in schools, it lasts about five minutes. “

The stakes are high for seniors who are scheduled to complete their NCEA exams in a matter of months.

Motivation is a problem

Emanuela Hopkins, 17, is in her junior year of high school at Takapuna Grammar School on Auckland’s North Shore.

She said she and her friends were nervous about year-end exams.

“With the uncertainty of when the exams will be and if they will be ready, it has been quite difficult to stay motivated to do work and study for something because it seems like it won’t even happen.”

He would also like to go back to school so he can see his friends again.

“Right now during the lockdown, I only talk to a couple of people who are my close friends, but when you’re in the classroom, you can talk to so many people that you don’t just text on Snapchat and things like that.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is expected to announce a pathway for Auckland’s schools to reopen tomorrow.

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