14 Aug 2020

Auckland Grammar headmaster asks for exemption for senior students to attend classes

From Checkpoint, 6:23 pm on 14 August 2020

Covid-19 alert level 3 is to continue in Auckland for another 12 days at least. How will this affect schools? Tim O'Connor is the Headmaster at Auckland Grammar and joins Lisa Owen to discuss the impact.

"Eleven full school days out of the classroom will be expensive, particularly for those students who are sitting [Cambridge] examinations within 27 working days from returning on the 27th of August," Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O'Connor said.

"I'm asking for an exemption for all sixth and seventh form students across wider Auckland, if schools have the ability to provide a safe environment for them."

But Auckland schools will have to wait another 24 hours from the announcement to learn how the extended restrictions of alert level 3 will affect students and crucial learning.

The Ministry of Education has emailed all Auckland principals to say they will give guidelines on Saturday by 5pm.

"[Ministry of Education] have been waiting for tonight's announcement like all of us, and I've communicated with the Ministry since that announcement was made, and they're working to see whether there will be any flexibility," O'Connor said.

"It'll take us two full days, we'll work through the weekend to put structures in place that would mean that we could actually operate in a safe capacity, while doing the very best for the young people in our care."

He said he did not want 2020 to be a wasted year for his students.

"It has been the thing that I've lost sleep about - the good average students who we need in front of us right now.

"Because we can make a difference to them and the success that they experience.

"Every day counts basically from here, this is a critical time in the academic school year for them."