Onsite learning at schools in Level 3 regions will start from next week for senior secondary school students to prepare for end of year exams, Education Minister, Chris Hipkins said today.
“Secondary schools in these regions will start onsite learning for years 11 to 13 on Tuesday 26 October,” Mr Hipkins said.
“This is a complex issue requiring difficult trade-offs between improving education and increasing potential health risks for children and young people.
“Learners in this age group are able to be vaccinated and are required to wear masks, and staff and volunteers working on site will need a negative test before attending.”
The Minister said Government agencies continued to refine public health measures for school and early learning services.
“Children, young people and staff at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should stay at home unless fully vaccinated, face coverings are mandatory for staff and learners in years 9 to 13, and records must be kept for contact tracing purposes. Face coverings on school transport will also be mandatory.”
“And staff and volunteers in all regions need to receive their first vaccine by 15 November.
“For years 1 to 10 the picture is more complex. I’m not completely ruling out these students in level 3 regions being able to return before the end of the year but if they do, we’ll need to be satisfied there are sufficient processes in place to minimise any risk.
“We’ve got to acknowledge that any settings where there are groups of children under 12, it’s higher risk – as they are not yet able to be vaccinated.
“But there are mitigations that can be put in place to keep the risk as low as possible. We can consider rostered attendance to reduce the number of students on site at any given time. The warmer summer months also provide more opportunities for learning outdoors where the risk of COVID-19 spreading is lower.
“Cabinet will consider the latest health advice and the options on Tuesday.”