Hawke's Bay's biggest school has set a possible record for its lowest attendance as parents opt to keep children home under level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Napier Boys' High School principal Matt Bertram said just eight pupils arrived today, about half of those expected from indicative surveys among the school's families.
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The school had rostered five staff and had been prepared for up to 40 students. But with only year 9 and 10 pupils returning, and the school boarding hostel remaining closed at least until further lowering of the Covid-19 alert to Level 2, the rate was higher than the national average.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told her daily Covid-10 media conference at Parliament that figures from about 55 per cent of schools showed an attendance rate of about 1 per cent. Early Education Centre attendance was about 4 per cent.
NBHS has a roll of about 1200, with about 500 in the "junior" school, and Bertram said 17 had been expected to be back, based on the survey. He said about 30 teachers were available, and the school can change the roster to suit the numbers of pupils if need be.
Those at school did supervised online studies, a benefit for one who had been among 20-25 who had no access to the internet at home.
The school had loaned about 170 devices to pupils, but the school was awaiting the arrival of Government-supplied stock.
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New Zealand Principals' Federation president Perry Rush conceded the lower-than-indicated attendances were a surprise.
However, it seemed parents who had intended their children to return to school had been able to make other arrangements, perhaps taking onboard advice from the Prime Minister that students should not return if parents felt it could be unsafe.
The federation had sought clarity on which pupils could return, and more clarity would be needed if level 2 was to be implemented, possibly as early as May 11.
He said it had been difficult for schools to "redesign" themselves in the "fluid" Covid-19 alert environment. He was proud of the achievements, but urged parents to take into account the situation of the schools in indicating whether pupils would be returning.