Auckland secondary schools are preparing to partially reopen their classes on Tuesday, although some principals question the government’s decision.
Principals told RNZ that they had already double-checked their stock of hand sanitizers and masks and had improved classroom ventilation in preparation for an eventual resumption of classes.
They said the most important job for schools next week would be finding out which students were behind on their work and helping them catch up.
Approximately 57,000 teenagers from Year 11 to Year 13 can go back to school on October 26 for the first time since mid-August.
Year 12 student Rosie Risbrook from Whangaparāoa College in North Auckland said she was looking forward to it.
“He’s been so lonely locked up,” he said.
“Having no one around you, I hadn’t realized that it would affect me that much, but it does. The human interaction that you’re really missing, so I’m really looking forward to going back to school no matter the conditions, like wearing masks or something like that, “he said.
But she said that not all of her friends were as interested as she was.
“I actually have some friends who are very worried about going back to school because they are quite nervous. It’s going to be really scary to interact with people again,” he said.
Whangaparāoa College principal Steve McCracken said some teachers were also a bit nervous.
“There is a bit of apprehension among our staff,” he said.
“We are just assuring them that the government has taken the best possible advice.”
McCracken said the school expected to reopen at some point, so it was well prepared for the return of up to 800 students on Tuesday.
He said it was important for teens to be able to return to class and regain motivation to study.
Albany Senior High School principal Claire Amos said her school was trying to reopen in a way that would ensure everyone felt safe. It allowed those who were studying effectively at home to stay there if they wanted.
“We are facing a hybrid mobile calendar, partly online, partly face-to-face, which seeks to incorporate different groups of years on different days,” he said.
“We are sending out surveys this afternoon to our parents and students to try to get an idea of how many need and want to go back to school. We are also working to reassure our teachers and make sure they understand the requirements about testing, making sure they they are still tracking the delivery of vaccination records. It’s crazy. “
Amos said he hoped the government would not reopen Auckland schools simply to ensure that scholarship and NCEA exams could take place in November.
“I’m concerned that the reason we’ve been asked to do this is because of pressure and perceptions about the importance of testing.”
‘I struggle to see the logic of the decision’
The director of Ōtāhuhu College, Neil Watson, said that meeting the various public health requirements before next week was not a problem, but that he could not understand the government’s thinking.
“It is hard for me to see the logic of the decision. Students can go to school, but students cannot go to a store. You can be in a classroom with 30 students in a school environment with more than 1000 students, but you cannot go. and cut my hair, “he said.
Watson said some families would be reluctant to send children to school under Alert Level 3 and expected only about half of the school’s 742 eligible students to show up.
He said that for those who returned to class, the first order of business would be to find out where they were with their learning.
“There is a lot of work that I know talking to teachers throughout this blackout period about how we develop our programs and adjust them to meet the needs of children. We know that some of our seniors are working right now to support their families because their parents’ working hours have been reduced, so we will have to work on a lot of complicated factors. “
The Education Ministry has told schools that reopening upper classes in alert level 3 regions would benefit the well-being of students.
He said that according to public health councils, the risk of students and teachers contracting Covid-19 in schools would be low.