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.