Auckland and Waikato students in years 1 to 10 will return to classroom learning in schools and kura starting November 17, while deadlines will be relaxed for the national curriculum and assessments for older students, announced today the Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
Fourth-year students and older must wear masks.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the government’s decision at today’s Covid-19 briefing.
Watch the press conference live here:
Hipkins said it was important to go back to some kind of school in person after three months of Level 3 or 4 lockdowns in Auckland, and before the Christmas break.
Students from Year 11 to Year 13 returned to school last month
“Lockdowns can be stressful for children and youth, so returning to some learning on site will mean they can reconnect with their teachers and friends,” Hipkins said in a statement.
“Starting this month will provide certainty before the Christmas break and before the new school year begins.”
Hipkins said schools that reopen will take appropriate precautions, following public health advice. Schools may not be open full time but on alternate days or other measures to space out returning students, as decided by each school.
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 cannot yet be vaccinated, although that launch is taking place abroad.
“Measures to help minimize the risk of Covid-19 will include wearing masks from the fourth year in most cases, ventilating classrooms, limiting the number of students on site, and making sure groups of children are move away from each other, “Hipkins said.
“Each school and kura will decide what works best for their students and their community. That could be alternating days or half weeks, through yearly levels, or through whānau groupings.
“Full-time learning will continue in place for students whose parents have needed it, for example, to go to work.
Other changes will address the learning lost during the lockdowns, Hipkins said, and help teachers, kaiako, students, whānau and communities regroup.
“Helping them begin a sustained recovery process from nearly two years from the Covid-19 outage is a major priority for the coming year.
“To make this possible, we are giving schools, kura and early learning services more time to implement the curriculum and assessment work programs.”
Schools will reset timelines for updating the New Zealand curriculum, Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Takanga or Te Wā stories, and the NCEA Change Program.
More details will be available on the website of the Ministry of Education.
“The changes to the curriculum and assessments are taking place over several years, and we want our schools, kura, and early learning services to be in the best possible position to successfully deliver them and achieve the best results for students and their whānau “.
Hipkins said the risk of reopening schools is outweighed by the benefits of “getting children re-engaged in their face-to-face learning in this context.”
“With really high vaccination rates, the balance of risk has shifted,” Hipkins said.
“As vaccination rates increase, including the requirement that teachers have at least one Covid-19 vaccine as of Monday, the risk to children and students is reduced.”