A high school principal has raised concerns about what prolonging senior students from returning to school will do to their learning and mental wellbeing.
It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that schools and early education centres would be returning on Wednesday April 29, after a teacher-only day on Tuesday. However, schools will only be open to students up to year 10 who have no other option but to attend.
Pete Jones, Principal of Manurewa High School in South Auckland, said he understood why the government made the decision but said he was worried about what that would mean for students staying at home.
"I'm concerned for all my kids and how this might affect them not just from a learning perspective, but also for their wellbeing".
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Jones said students learn better when in a school environment: "all of us have realised through this process how important the face to face relationships and social interactions are, that happens when we are able to be together."
He said many principals are thinking about what the impact of Covid-19 is having on students learning and didn't rule out whether it was possible students would have to repeat their year level.
"We'll do everything we can to continue to support students, and when we come out of level 3, do everything we can to help them catch up".
Meanwhile Deidre Shea, President of SPANZ, an organisation representing secondary principals said they are working to safely get students who need to attend school, back to school, whilst supporting the estimated 400,000 New Zealanders returning to the workforce.
She said while they are planning for what level 3 will bring, many students are benefiting from being provided devices to learn from home. "The effort to actively address the digital divide is a huge positive that has occurred during this state of emergency. The challenge ahead of us is to keep the momentum going and for this to continue to address inequity of access.
Shea said right now the focus is on leadership and timely messaging to enable our students to continue learning well through the transition to alert level 3.