Alert level 3 guidelines for schools have been met with mixed reactions from Northland principals with some saying their support of moves to get back on track does not take away from health and safety concerns, and others saying it treated teachers like babysitters.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed what life would be like in alert level 3, if the country moves down from level 4 next week.
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It means early childhood education centres and schools will open for children up to and including Year 10, with children remaining in small groups or bubbles. Years 11 to 13 - an age group where students are legally allowed to be home alone - will continue to learn at home.
Children who are able to, should remain home and learn via distance.
Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president Pat Newman, who is also principal of Hora Hora Primary School in Whangārei, said Northland principals were "totally supportive and understanding" of the need to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible.
But that didn't take away from the "huge concern" they had about safety of staff and children.
"I would call upon those who are making the decisions, particularly in health, to think about the practicality of keeping children in little groups all day, and not letting them come out of their group and mix with others in a school situation," he said.
"I would also call upon the same people to look at what they can do to ensure the safety of staff and all the children, when the rest of the country has been told to cut down the minimum face-to-face contact with other people yet at schools it seems to be open."
The Government won't announce whether we move down to alert level 3 next week until Monday.
At yesterday's daily update, Finance Minister Grant Robertson revealed that schools will have at least a week after the announcement of level 4 being lifted before they would open so they could prepare.
Ministry of Education Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said there was a lot of detail to work through before the ministry could even begin to reopen schools and early learning services. Public health and safety remained the top priority.
Pompallier Catholic College principal Richard Stanton was pleased with the possibility of schools reopening, but thought the wrong group, Years 1 to 10, had been allowed to return to school under alert level 3 - a decision he said put economics over education.
"From an education perspective and trying to run a school, the best group to come back would be the senior students currently doing NCEA and those students who have higher needs because it's those families I see as being most under pressure at the moment."
He said the details around certain year levels returning didn't send a good message to families.
"I think it's saying that the value of the school lies in their ability to act as babysitters," he said.
Kaeo School principal Paul Barker said because Thursday's alert level announcement was so "broad", he hadn't panicked over it and understood a lot of work was being done behind the scenes.
"There are things in particular around transport to schools, for example. Any idea of keeping the kids in small groups is negated if they all have to come to school on a bus.
"We have most of our kids come to school in buses so the idea of keeping them in small groups just won't work. We won't even be able to keep them within our school because our buses transport to four schools. Those are the things that need to be considered as we start working on opening the schools up."