Bay of Plenty principals welcome, with caution, the partial opening of schools once the Covid-19 lockdown lifts.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed yesterday that, at alert level 3, there would be a partial opening of schools for students up to Year 10 only and attendance would not be mandatory.
Students who can remain home and do distance learning are encouraged to do so, she said.
On the Government's official Covid-19 website, it stated it will be safe for early learning centres and schools to open for children up to and including Year 10, with appropriate public health measures in place.
All children not at school should be learning by distance.
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said the move to partially re-open schools was a practical and well thought-out solution.
"For families to be able to put food on the table for their kids, schools need to play their part and open to allow the economy to start up again, for people to get back to work."
He said the school, with a capacity of 1200, would be able to safely manage the physical distancing of the Year 7 to 10s.
He said this would give parents peace of mind that appropriate safety measures would be taken.
Tauriko School principal Suzanne Billington said more guidance would be needed from the Ministry of Education about what small groups of learners meant in a school environment.
"There will have to be a lot more detail around that to ensure we can mitigate risk."
She said it was "wonderful" parents now had the choice to keep their children home and know their child was, in essence, still attending school.
The school felt it had a successful week of distance learning from home in the first week back for the term.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks are not necessary for a school environment. But children and staff who are at greater risk are encouraged to stay at home.
Dave Best, managing director of Tauranga home-based childcare provider Edubase, said he was concerned about large early childcare centres opening and how they would manage to keep young children at appropriate distances.
The provider worked throughout the lockdown with a maximum of one adult to four children of essential workers and Best they were currently planning for when they can open their doors to their regular families.
"It's hard to know how those big centres will deal with the potential risk – even basics like first aid will need to be considered in a Covid-19 context."
Schools at alert level 3
• Home-based early learning services can resume up to the maximum number of licensed children of 4.
• Play centres and playgroups will be closed.
• Early learning centres and schools for children up to and including Year 10 will open.
• Year 11-13 will continue to learn at home.
• Most tertiary education will be through distance learning but may open for limited activities involving small stable groups of up to 10.
• Tertiary campus research that cannot be done off-campus such as lab work or trades courses which can happen in small groups with appropriate physical distancing is allowed.