Saturday, November 27

Secondary teachers union ‘shocked and angry’ at decision to go back to school

Secondary teachers are “dismayed and angry” at the government’s announcement that Year 11-13 students living in alert level 3 areas will be able to return to classrooms on October 26, says a union.

Examination with student in school uniform doing educational stress test in classroom 16: 9 style

Secondary students in Years 11-13 living in Alert Level 3 areas will be able to return to the classroom on October 26 (file image).
Photo: 123RF

The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) said the Minister of Education and Minister of Response to Covid-19, Chris Hipkins, did not consult with them.

At today’s briefing at 1:00 p.m. M., Hipkins said that decisions about schools and early learning services in the alert level 3 areas were finely balanced.

“Testing is accelerating for our high school students in particular and the stresses and strains that learning at home creates are becoming more apparent every day.

“We want our youth to return to the classroom as soon as possible, but we also want to keep them and the community at large safe.”

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

PPTA Te Wehengarua President Melanie Webber said in a statement: “We are not sure who Minister Hipkins consulted before making his announcement, but he certainly did not speak to PPTA. We have strongly supported public health councils, including the compulsory vaccination for teachers “. Throughout this pandemic, however, we have not seen any public health council that would allow these actions announced today.

“It is incredible that in the same week the number of cases of this pandemic in New Zealand has reached an all-time high and is expected to increase significantly, along with the fact that young people between 12 and 19 years have the highest vaccination rates. casualties, that the government would open high schools to hundreds of thousands of students.

“The government seems to have gone from being very cautious to reckless disregard for consequences in the blink of an eye.”

Albany Senior High School Principal Claire Amos said Afternoon she was disappointed that concern over the NCEA exams had led to schools reopening earlier than necessary.

I would prefer that schools stay closed longer.

“In fact, I think it would have taken a lot of courage to keep the schools closed because we’ve had a lot of pressure from the community around things like exams,” Amos said.

“Our community doesn’t necessarily understand that physical exams are not necessary, many students and schools stopped focusing on external exams.”

NCEA was a flexible system and schools had a number of creative options to show that students learn with or without tests, he said.

The Ministry of Education said that reopening Auckland’s classrooms to seniors was in their best interest.

In a message to schools today, he said that allowing students to return to classrooms is critical to their learning.

Today’s announcement was based on the advice of public health experts, he said.

In comments provided through the Science Media Center, University of Canterbury Faculty of Education, Health and Human Development Associate Professor Arindam Basu said there is a risk that the infection will spread once schools are back on track. to open.

“It was encouraging to note that the wearing of masks became mandatory for students and staff, and that negative testing and vaccination will be implemented, with an emphasis on outdoor classes.

“Another thing would be important in this context: to improve classroom ventilation. School classrooms traditionally do not have the best ventilation facilities, and Covid-19 is an airborne infection. On top of that, maintenance Accurate attendance records and strict truancy control would be key steps here to minimize spread to and from schools.

“For Covid-19, we know that there are four related characteristics that determine the extent of the spread, all things considered. First, poor ventilation and overcrowding, leading to potential super-spread events as Covid-19 spreads from a a way that most infections are the result of few, and most people would not pass to others.

“Second, masking is absolutely necessary to minimize spread from the source … Third, regardless, vaccination with two doses is necessary to minimize serious infections … Finally, it is important to limit the number of people sharing a space. A distance of two meters is possibly a minimum distance. “

Balancing the ability for students to learn face-to-face while managing public health risk was important and the step was commendable, Basu said.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

Webber said the announcement also had implications for teachers’ workloads.

“Teachers will be required to teach both in person and online and while they will try their best, it will be impossible to provide quality teaching when they are switching channels trying to serve everyone.

“Many teachers are also anxious about how they are going to care for their own children. With strict limits on the number of child care services at alert level 3, many teachers may be forced to bring their own young children to school with them. And we hope that the elementary schools will have many more students starting next week. “

Webber had other concerns: preventing young people from mingling and taking tests.

“Our advice was that NCEA Level 3 external exams should only be conducted in areas that are currently under Level 3 lockdown to give students in their final year of the NCEA the opportunity to earn the best grade and allow students to exams are performed safely.

“NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 students would receive an unexpected event grade instead of taking external exams. This would have been the safest option and would have greatly reduced anxiety for many students.

In fact, with the growing nervousness in Auckland over the increasing number of cases, the fact that students are required to take external examinations will significantly increase their anxiety levels. But, again, the government seems to have released its entire Covid-19 warning. to the wind. “

At the 1:00 pm briefing. M., Hipkins said: “Children, youth and staff most at risk of severe illness from Covid-19 should stay home unless fully vaccinated, staff and students ages 9-13 should face covering and records must be kept for contact tracing purposes. Face covering will also be required on school transportation. “

Staff and volunteers working on site at alert level 3 will need a negative test before attending, and staff and volunteers from all regions will need to receive their first vaccination by November 15.

Hipkins said the government is not ruling out other students returning before Christmas and would consider health advice on Tuesday.

-POOL- Photo by Mark Mitchell: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins during Delta outbreak update with Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield in Parliament, Wellington.  October 20, 2021. NZ Herald photo by Mark Mitchell

Chris Hipkins.
Photo: NZME

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