School principals concerned over partial re-opening

Concerns have been expressed by principals and teachers over the partial reopening plans for schools under Alert Level 3. It will be tricky trying to deal with possibly fluctuating numbers of pupils at school but also keeping work going for all the kids learning from home.

But Covid-19 lockdowns have disrupted many people in many occupations, making work harder for a lot of us. And making education harder. It’s a given that this year’s education will be tricky for everyone.

Under Level 3, which we may be dropping to next Thursday (a decision will be made on Monday), schools will be opening for children of essential workers and optionally other children to enable parents to go back to work, up until year 10 (the old Form 4).  This allows for care of children up to age 14, who can’t legally be left at home alone.

RNZ – Principals concerned over level 3 reopening: ‘It’s going to be a shambles’

Principals are warning the government’s plans for partially reopening schools at alert level 3 will be a shambles.

Things are a bit of a shambles now.

They warn that teachers will struggle to teach classes in-person and online, social distancing will be nearly impossible to maintain, and parents will send children to school simply because they are sick of having them at home.

Otorohanga College principal Traci Liddall said she could see potential problems with the government’s plans.

“It’s going to be a shambles. Who is allowed to come back? What is the purpose of them coming back? Are they just coming back because parents are sick of them? Are they coming back because they are the children of essential workers?” she said.

“I can’t see it running very smoothly at all.”

The president of the Principals Federation, Perry Rush, said principals needed a lot more detail about how partial reopening would work.

He said there would be challenges with maintaining social distancing at schools.

“That is always a really difficult challenge in any school and it will largely be impossible,” he said.

The president of the Auckland Secondary Principals Association, Richard Dykes, said teachers would not be able to provide an in-class lesson for students who were present in person and a remote lesson for those studying from home.

“If students do turn up, they’re going to be working online, maybe with some teacher oversight, but certainly it won’t be face-to-face teaching as we know it,” he said.

Dykes said he expected most students would stay home.

RNZ: Covid-19 level 3 school rules ‘most irresponsible’ – Auckland Grammar headmaster

An Auckland headmaster says the government’s decision to partially reopen schools is totally irresponsible and teachers are being asked to babysit, not educate.

… teachers and students will still have to keep their social distance. Auckland Grammar Headmaster Tim O’Connor said he had no idea how it would all work.

“It is, from my mindset, one of the most irresponsible decisions for New Zealand education in my time as headmaster of the school.”

Perhaps schools have a responsibility to help out how they can in a time of unprecedented disruption to out society.

O’Connor said that if it’s safe to partially reopen a school under alert level 3, the government should be targeting the students who are most in need in the secondary sector – the Year 12 and 13 students who are sitting NCEA, Cambridge, or International Baccalaureate.

Older students will be best able to mamange their own learning from home.

“The government’s not making a decision about education, it’s making a decision about how to provide child care for reopening the country.

Like everything else education has been massively disrupted by Covid-19.  Principals can’t expect a plan could have been made to carry on with education as usual this term.

It can’t be anything like back to normal. I don’t think teachers will be expected to provide full curriculum learning for all students at school and home. The aim is a partial resumption of studies and allow for a partial resumption of work for some parents. So that’ means a form of babysitting.

Learning from home and transitioning back to school will be a big challenge for schools, but they should be seeing what they can do as best they can in the circumstances.

However it is tricky for teachers concerned about catching the virus, some will not want to go back to schooling pupils in person, and that’s understandable. Resuming classes at school should be optional for them too.

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42 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  17th April 2020

    The president of the Auckland Secondary Principals Association, Richard Dykes, said teachers would not be able to provide an in-class lesson for students who were present in person and a remote lesson for those studying from home.

    “If students do turn up, they’re going to be working online, maybe with some teacher oversight, but certainly it won’t be face-to-face teaching as we know it,” he said.

    Cracker!!!!!

    Reply
  2. David

     /  17th April 2020

    Why cant well paid principals with well paid teachers work out how to make it work rather than just bitching and moaning, seriously is there a bigger group of complainers than the teaching profession.
    Apparently all the big pay rises are justified because its for the children well here you go prove its money well spent rather than resent the opportunity to give the best education to your charges.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th April 2020

      It’s utterly riduculous to think schools can be safe when so many other things aren’t. Shows the fantasy thinking going on.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  17th April 2020

        Agreed. It seems parents are having a tough time so off to school kids go, despite social distancing being impossible, but cafes have to shut because … social distancing.

        Reply
      • You wanted businesses to be able to crank up again? Some will be able to, but that makes it difficult for parents with kids at home.

        Children appear to be very low risk from Covid-19.

        Reply
        • artcroft

           /  17th April 2020

          But great vectors for transmission. I suspect there will be much clesarer rules about who can attend school when level 3 comes into force, and it won’t be the ‘if you feel like it you can send them to school’ deal being suggested now.

          Reply
          • artcroft

             /  17th April 2020

            Remember you will have older children involved as well. Children who don’t have are quick to spot a gap in the system and exploit it. How do schools know who is supposed to be there that day and who isn’t. Which teenagers left home for school but never arrived?

            Reply
          • “But great vectors for transmission.”

            I’m aware of that. But if we are going to move back towards the new normal schools will have to gradually reopen. This seems as good a way as any. It will be tricky keeping track of who should be at school – but now there’s no way of knowing which kids are learning at home and how many are doing little or nothing.

            There’s likely to be only partial education for months. Some Us and European schools are closed until the end of their school years, which is their summer (mid year).

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th April 2020

              Marist College shows the consequences. A kid in Kerikeri came back and gave it to her siblings.

            • It’s certainly a risk. But so is parents going back to work.

              We won’t get very far relaxing restrictions if all the suggested relaxations are ruled out because of risks, and there will always be someone claiming risks.

              Partially reopening schools is a very tricky one. Without schools many parents won’t be able to work. But initially most kids will probably be staying at home, which will reduce the risk.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th April 2020

              I know it’s a conundrum because those who can’t work from home are least likely to have options for their children. Probably the least bad option is to relax the bubble barriers enough to let children be cared for by family members or friends.

            • Level 3 does relax bubbles to allow for caregiving.

              People must stay within their immediate household bubble, but can expand this to reconnect with close family / whanau, or bring in caregivers, or support isolated people.

              https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/

            • Gezza

               /  17th April 2020

              But if we are going to move back towards the new normal schools will have to gradually reopen.

              Why? Why do they have to gradually re-open, when it seems to present more problems for kids parents & teachers than if the status quo were to continue until all schools were to reopen completely, minus any kids showing symptoms OR testing positive for Covid-19?

          • Duker

             /  17th April 2020

            Great vectors for transmission ?

            These NZ numbers suggest not, remember they are only opening to year 10 !

            Reply
        • Duker

           /  17th April 2020

          Young kids arent great vectors for transmission. ( this disappeared first time)

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  17th April 2020

        ” think schools can be safe when so many other things aren’t.”
        You have forgotten the most important thing . Tracing
        Each school knows who the pupils are and where they live , same goes with teachers. Those are real names and adresses.
        And the school is expected to maintain the teacher-students classroom bubble and not just expect its a usual day where the teachers mix and the students mix in their free time.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th April 2020

          Tracing is important but isolating your grandparents only to see them die alone won’t be much comfort.

          And a teacher sharing a room with 20 kids for a day is in a petri dish, not a bubble.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  17th April 2020

            No one would allow teacher or pupil to attend if they were positive.
            Someone with the virus and dying is whole different story. and was under level 4
            Any way its level 3 and lighter rules apply about those dying like they do for schools.

            Reply
            • artcroft

               /  17th April 2020

              How do you know you’re positive if you’re asymptomatic?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th April 2020

              Duker, the point of contact tracing is to isolate the possibly infected. Once the possibly infected are your grandparents it is too late.

            • Duker

               /  17th April 2020

              Stopping it spreading was the severe level 4 quarantine… now its going to level 3 then healthy people still have a chance of catching it.
              Elderly still should be in a sort of lockdown no matter the level

        • artcroft

           /  17th April 2020

          “And the school is expected to maintain the teacher-students classroom bubble and not just expect its a usual day where the teachers mix and the students mix in their free time.”
          So no lunch breaks or smokos for teachers and no outdoor play for kids. For how many months?

          Reply
  3. artcroft

     /  17th April 2020

    In any case i still support moving to Level 3.

    Reply
    • David

       /  17th April 2020

      Me too but I would open a few more retail stores (Miter 10, Bunnings etc.) so at least we can pass the time with a bit of DIY or gardening or crafts, probably too many people blobbing in front of Netflix.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  17th April 2020

        And good weather being wasted.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  17th April 2020

        They are to be open for ‘click and collect’ type of general retail sales.
        Surely thats not a problem to use in this day and age , the DIY ethos extended
        maybe you never looked at the website , I used to use it for comparison shopping before going to the one that I wanted to purchase from.
        Some things that you arent so certain about what would suit etc maybe will have to wait.

        Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  17th April 2020

    Some Mum and Dads may finally get back to work on full pay but no you can’t send your child to school to face teachers who have been on full pay during the duration.

    Reply
    • Griff.

       /  17th April 2020

      Most schools have been on holidays..
      They are back now the sister in law, a TA is still doing her hours just in front of a computer.
      The Girl has had a huge amount of extra work over the holidays changing her courses to on line and videoing her lectures.

      Reply
  5. duperez

     /  17th April 2020

    All good, just another part of the jigsaw to be sorted, another part of life to be dealt with.

    The community, individual parents and families, the kids, the school as organisations, teachers, the whole country will be affected in some way. The opinion givers like me will have something else to pontificate about and be experts on.

    A principal will say to some reporter, “It’s going to be a bit awkward,” based on their particular circumstances and the environment they operate in. That becomes a newspaper headline ‘Teacher slams school,’ which becomes talkback fodder for a day.

    Auckland Grammar Headmaster Tim O’Connor is always good for a headline. And a laugh. He has no idea how it would all work? “It is, from my mindset, one of the most irresponsible decisions for New Zealand education in my time as headmaster of the school.”

    At the end of February he showed that having no idea is not new to him. School Sport New Zealand which administers and co-ordinates secondary school sport, signed up to New Zealand Sports Collective, which offers Sky TV exclusive rights to stream or broadcast a number of tournaments and events. Some principals claimed to be ‘blindsided’ by the move. The consultation process with schools had taken place over 18 months and was “detailed” according to Rob Waddell whose outfit is New Zealand Sports Collective.

    O’Connor: “One has to wonder what School Sport NZ is thinking,” he continued. “I would have hoped that the body’s primary interest was the welfare of our students, not the commoditisation of them.”

    I’ve no idea how Headmaster O’Connor will handle the forced minimisation of sports programmes and events which stiff arm tackles his school’s 2020 effort at commodifying young people for the aggrandisement of his school. Maybe he’ll be focussed on other issues he has no idea about.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12312670

    Reply
  6. Pink David

     /  17th April 2020

    The best thing that could come from this is the end of the school system.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  17th April 2020

      easily your best idea ..yet!

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  17th April 2020

        teachers just want danger money ..
        Ask the hospital workers how they feel about doing a job in face of adversity and very high risk

        Reply
    • duperez

       /  17th April 2020

      Thanks! Bet won! 🙂🍾

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  17th April 2020

        Wot bet ?
        (Briefly)

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  17th April 2020

          Someone would say that schools as such should be got rid of and the evolving model showed a valid alternative.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  17th April 2020

            All it shows is that teachers with secure employment and a sort of career for life then trivialise everything else they highlight…..give it a few days and the call for much smaller class sizes will become deafening as their contribution to community sacrifice

            Reply
            • duperez

               /  17th April 2020

              It’s not all it shows. It shows that those given half chance to gripe about teachers will do it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th April 2020

              Oi! I had half a chance and didn’t.

            • Duker

               /  17th April 2020

              The teachers got in first…never miss a beat….me me me me.
              They give unions a bad name

  7. Duker

     /  17th April 2020

    It will be interesting to see the schools traffic patterns after they reopen for working parents only. I wonder if we will still see the mums sitting in a car outside the school at 3pm waiting for their kids when that could indicate they could have kept them at home.
    Especially in well off areas who insist on driving to the ‘right school’ to suit their social status.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  17th April 2020

      When there are no schools because kids do their learning online the chore of sitting in a car outside the school at 3pm waiting will be gone! People will look back wistfully and say “Remember when… ?” 🙂

      Reply

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