Thursday, April 18, 2024

Schools disappointed at order to close due to storm

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Cockle Bay School principal Dorothy Bigwood says her school is “very disappointed” at having to close this week. Times file photo Wayne Martin


On February 1, the Secretary for Education lifted the direction made two days prior that schools and other education providers across Auckland close for physical learning until February 7 in response to the region’s weather emergency. The change took effect on February 1.

Schools, early learning services and tertiary organisations across Auckland have been ordered to shut until February 3 due to the ongoing severe weather across the city.

Many schools were scheduled to start the year this week after the summer holidays.

“Auckland is currently in a state of emergency,” the Ministry of Education said on January 30.

“Earlier today, the Auckland Emergency Management asked us to take action to help minimise traffic movement on Auckland roads while vital insurance is urgently repaired.

“With the possibility of further weather damage leading to more disruption, the Secretary for Education has directed that schools, kura, early learning services and tertiary organisations in the Auckland region to close for physical onsite attendance and instruction until Friday, opening after Waitangi weekend.”

The ministry says schools and kura can open remotely for distance learning.

As few staff as are needed can be onsite to prepare for distance learning and to oversee hostels if required.

Tertiary organisations may also provide distance learning.

Early learning services may allow the physical attendance of any child whose parent needs them to do so but must otherwise be closed, the ministry says.

Early learning services will continue to be funded.

The ministry also issued a public apology to school principals and leaders who first heard about their schools being ordered to shut from the news media.

It said an IT fault prevented it from sending emails directly to principals.

“We have investigated this issue and the emails have been re-sent but we appreciate this was an hour later than you should have been informed.

“We are sorry for the delay in this important communication.

“Principals and education leaders have done a fantastic job of readying their schools for opening, and we know this decision will be upsetting for some of them and for some parents.”

Many east Auckland schools used social media to update parents on the evolving situation.

Cockle Bay School principal Dorothy Bigwood posted a message on her school’s Facebook page on Monday saying the primary school will not be open for students to attend until February 7.

Bigwood asked parents to not send their child to the school on February 2 as previously arranged.

“This is not the way we hoped to start the year. We are very disappointed.

“However, Auckland is in an extreme weather emergency and we must all play our part in keeping off the roads to ensure emergency management people can check the infrastructure across the whole of Auckland.

“Further information will be provided to you once we know more ourselves.

“Meantime, we trust you all are dry and safe after the atrocious flooding of recent days and what might be on its way.”

Similar updates were posted online by schools including Macleans College in Bucklands Beach and Howick College, which wrote that it was “very disappointed” it cannot welcome new students on Tuesday.

The school expected to send out an update to parents and students by email on February 1.

“In the meantime, please take care and stay safe.”

Macleans College principal Steven Hargreaves wrote on Facebook on January 30 that schools had been given a further update and clarification about opening for students.

“Despite an earlier indication that schools could be open, that is no longer possible.

“We will be closed. Students are to remain at home.

“We will communicate with you about onsite or remote learning in due course. Please stay safe.”

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