Saturday, December 4

Auckland primary school educators call for ‘gold standard’ health and safety measures

Auckland principals are asking for clear advice on health and safety measures after the government announced a tentative reopening date for schools in the region.

School children wearing protective masks against influenza virus at classroom lesson

Photo: 123RF

There is still no certainty for parents and teachers of young children in Auckland and Waikato about when they will return to face-to-face learning, and if it will happen this year.

Earlier today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the cabinet agreed on a possible return date for November 15, but stressed that it is only possible and that many problems need to be solved.

Point Chevalier School Principal and Auckland Primary Principals Association President Stephen Lethbridge said Control that if students go back to school on November 15, you want to see some clear guidelines around the “gold standard” for health and safety.

“We are very interested in collaborating with the Ministry on what could be, what are the requirements and how can we translate that into daily life in schools.”

He said the new health and safety measures would likely mean that the school experience that children are returning to will be different than what they are used to.

This could include school attendance being staggered between grade levels over the course of the week, he said.

“There may be days without school for some groups of children, we have to figure that out … what are the parameters, if there are children who are in the place for a couple of days a week and then they are given some learning to continue with them for the rest of the week.

“All those options are on the table, there is nothing concrete yet, we are going to work with the ministry to make sure we have the best for all schools in the Auckland region.”

Lethbridge said that the last month of the school term is really important to students, and each school will view those weeks differently.

“We will seek to socialize, get back to how we learn in school, reconnect with teachers, and move on with learning.”

Children who reach the end of their time in elementary school will need to be prioritized, he said.

With some elementary schools reporting 50 to 60 percent absenteeism in digital learning, Lethbridge said the digital divide was a crucial problem facing education during a time of uncertainty.

“The digital divide is a crucial discussion that we must have and it is not just about having access to a device, but about having a strong and stable connection at home.

He said educators are in talks with the ministry about plans for options for home learning in case the school is forced to temporarily close again.

“We’ve had two years of outages, what we’ve had are constant calls about the digital divide … schools were closed last year and some schools opted to spend money on devices and some didn’t, so there have been device launches. .

Lethbridge said the disparity between school-age children’s access to devices and internet connection must be addressed.

Parenting expert Nathan Wallis told Checkpoint that parents with children under the age of eight shouldn’t worry too much about the erratic learning experience their children may have had this year.

“I think it’s actually a blessing, kids under eight are better playing and not doing formal learning. I know it surprises a lot of people, but it’s just a research-based reality.

“There is no advantage to doing formal literacy, numeracy … all school-type stuff until really after age seven, somewhere between age seven and eight.”

Wallis said that while some children will take time to readjust to a social setting, the period of confinement has not been long enough to have significantly eroded the personal skills of most children.

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