Sunday, November 28

Auckland Primary Principals Relieved to Stay Closed

Some Auckland primary school principals are relieved that they are not reopening their classrooms to more children today.

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Photo: 123RF

Schools in the region have now been closed for 10 weeks, eight weeks of classes and two weeks of school holidays, although some children have been allowed to go to school at alert level 3.

Weymouth primary school principal Saane Faaofo-Oldehaver said the school had about 40 students a day in bubbles under alert level 3 provisions and was relieved that it did not reopen more widely.

“It’s about the health and safety of you and your family first, and if I think about our community here in Weymouth, we only have about 45 percent of this community vaccinated,” he said.

“For us, I think we are happier that our children are at home and are safe and are still learning from home.”

Rowandale School principal Karl Vasau was another who said the city’s elementary schools shouldn’t reopen just yet, although the closure was hurting many children’s learning.

“We will see the effects of this for many years to come because the children have simply lost that valuable connection to their teacher, their learning programs, and in addition to creating wonderful memories at school and being with their friends and developing those relationships,” he said.

“On the other hand, it is important to be safe. Opening a school where there are 700 children and where none of them are vaccinated because they are all under 12 years old creates a situation that I don’t want to be in.”

Vasau said that many parents were concerned about their children’s education and that it was important that they return to school when it was safe.

But he said that even if schools were to resume before the end of the year, the focus would be on social and emotional ties rather than setting goals for formal learning.

Newmarket School principal Wendy Koefoed said distance learning was a poor substitute for being in a classroom, but accepted that elementary schools had to be patient.

“No matter how good our remote learning programs are, having our kids on site and having face-to-face interactions and engaging activities is so important, so yeah, it’s kind of sad to see the high schools come back, but they are a priority and we just have to be a little patient and wait for our communities to be a little bit safer before our youngest children who are not vaccinated go back to school, “he said.

Koefoed said that most of her students were fortunate to be learning well from home and that she was more concerned about the mental and emotional toll on them.

“I think about these at home, the loneliness, their worries about the future. We want them to go back to the schools so we can clear our heads of some of those worries so they can communicate, they can play, they can run.”

Learning when they are not learning

Massey University professor Roseanna Bourke and John O’Neill studied the informal learning of elementary-age children during last year’s national shutdown.

Bourke said the research found that children trapped at home learned from everyday situations.

She said they could use math and reading while helping their parents with housework, but they also learned from daily interactions at home.

“A boy who had problems with his brother wrote his mother many notes and letters and left them under the pillow, the pillow in his bedroom for his mother to read every night. So the children wrote with a purpose, they developed their own strategies, they discovered things about themselves that they did not know, “he said.

She said locked up children even learn when they have nothing to do.

“Even children who get bored and understand what boredom means and how to actively come out of that boredom and develop what they enjoy learning and becoming more creative in their learning, children were very aware of that, as they were in anger, emotions reactions to siblings. “

Bourke said some children learned more about their culture and traditions, and they learned from events like birthdays, pet deaths, and holidays like Anzac Day.

She said that the children would not be left behind in their traditional learning and that their confinement experience would be very useful to them when they returned to class.

“They will go back to school knowing that they are learners and then they have to apply it in the school setting,” he said.

The Education Ministry previously reported that late last year, test results for elementary school children showed little impact from the closure.

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