All school pupils to return to class

With the end of Covid lockdowns potentially in sight, the Government says the public health advice supports a return to on-site learning. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced all year 1-10 school pupils in Auckland can return to face-to-face learning at schools and kura from November 17.

He says Covid-19 lockdowns can be stressful for children and young people, so returning to some on-site learning will mean they can reconnect with their teachers and friends.

“Starting this month will provide certainty ahead of the Christmas break and before the new school year starts.

“Public health advice supports a return to on-site learning.

“Measures to help minimise the risk of Covid-19 will include mask-wearing from year 4 up in most cases, ventilating classrooms, limiting the number of students on-site, and making sure groups of children distance from each other.”

Hipkins says each school and kura will decide what works best for their learners and community.

“That might be by alternating days or half weeks through year levels, or through whanau groupings.

“Full-time learning will continue on-site for students whose parents have needed it, for example to go to work.”

He says the health advice states that in other countries out-of-school activities create a greater risk of transmission than what happens at places of learning.

“It’s clear the risk of reopening schools is outweighed by the benefits of kids re-engaging with their learning face-to-face in this context.

“While most students in years 1-8 will be returning part-time, years 9 and 10 will be able to return full-time alongside those already back at high schools in years 11-13.

“With really strong vaccination rates, the balance of risk has shifted.

“As vaccinations rates increase, including the requirement for teachers to have at least one Covid-19 vaccination from Monday, the risk to children and students is lowered.”

Year 11-13 students have been back at school at Covid alert level three full-time for weeks to help re-engage in their learning, and prepare for exams, Hipkins says.

“Parents, caregivers and teachers have been doing an incredible job helping children to adapt and learn online.

“I want to thank them for that and acknowledge those school leaders and teachers who will be working hard from here to prepare for hybrid learning from 17 November.”