More Auckland schools are announcing they won't fully reopen next week, and instead coming up with their own plans to get through the next couple of weeks.
It was revealed yesterday Takapuna Grammar School won't reopen and will continue with remote learning until the end of next week.
Reopening on Tuesday was "not practical nor necessary for TGS as an immediate option", principal Mary Nixon wrote. She said the North Shore school already had a well-considered plan that was working.
It made the call after Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday that senior students can head back to school after the long weekend.
Now, Sancta Maria College in Flat Bush and Kaipara College have decided against it and instead are offering smaller workshops, or allowing seniors in by invitation only. Saint Kentigern College has also tweaked its plan, admitting in an email to parents today, "sometimes the best plans can, on reflection, not be in the best interests of all".
And Western Springs College today told parents it would delay reopening until November 1, or even later.
The Herald asked the Ministry of Education if schools were obligated to reopen to seniors or if it was optional to continue learning remotely.
In an emailed statement, Isabel Evans, the Ministry of Education's leader for Auckland, said the ministry was "working with schools on a case by case as they explore how best to welcome back their years 11-13 students physically onsite".
"We will provide support if required to make sure all senior students have access to quality learning programmes and activities."
Evans said the disruption to NCEA this year for students in Year 11, 12 and 13 had been significant and these students had been prioritised.
"As well as supporting our senior students in relation to NCEA, there are considerable wellbeing benefits to having rangatahi learning face to face. We know that many of our ākonga have found distance learning very difficult, and in some cases impossible to maintain."
In an email to parents with wording almost identical to Takapuna Grammar, Sancta Maria wrote: "We were all surprised by this announcement, and I know this will be causing all kinds of emotions for you and your children.
"I want to reassure you that Sancta Maria College already has an excellent, well-considered, online learning programme in place.
"The health and wellbeing of our students and staff is a priority so therefore having all senior students back onsite is neither practical nor necessary for Sancta Maria College as an immediate option."
The senior leadership team met this week and decided that although they wanted to see students back at school, we "are aware there are many logistical issues for the return to school and lots of juggling for you and your families".
"The school needs to be able to manage the compliance issues alongside ensuring the best outcomes for our students, especially in their NCEA exams."
Senior students were currently finishing tasks that would be used as derived grade evidence so that would continue next week.
Smaller groups will instead go to school for workshops, tutorial sessions or tests according to their timetable.
"By offering targeted workshop tutorials, we will be able to continue to support effective student learning while ensuring we are keeping all our Sancta Maria whanau safe."
Kaipara College has posted on Facebook that its normal timetable was not running in term 4.
It would only open to year 11, 12 and 13 students "who need them, for example, some portfolio subjects and for students who need to sit external exams to achieve their qualification for 2021".
"If your student needs to attend one of these THEY WILL BE INVITED by their teacher.
OR students are supervised while they continue with their on-line learning.
"All other students are to continue to learn on-line at home."
In an email, Saint Kentigern principal Duncan McQueen said the senior leadership team had "consulted further with staff and listened to a range of feedback from our community" and realised getting back to school next week "would be challenging for a number of students and their families".
"As a result, after discussion with the Trust Board, we have made the difficult decision to revert to our plan and continue with our exams in an 'online' format.
"We are acutely aware that this further change will add additional stress to some and relief to others.
"Over the last week the College staff and students have shown that we can successfully undertake these online assessments and with a very good attendance and completion rate."
Seniors would return to campus from Monday, November 1 to start the final two week run into their NCEA examinations, he said.
And Western Springs College this afternoon told parents by email they would defer reopening until November 1 "or possibly later", and use next week for a safe reopening.
"We have well-established online learning systems and these will continue next week."
The board said it was particulary concerned about the risks for some students some of whom came from "large, multi-generational households that include vulnerable whanau, and from suburbs
that have lower vaccination rates" as well as using public transport.