Biggest boys' school may be closed for a year

11:21 am on 1 March 2011

The biggest boys' high school in the South Island could be closed for a year because of damage to buildings.

The principal of Shirley Boys' High School, John Laurenson, says vast amounts of silt have swept through the buildings along with sewage from wrecked pipes.

He says the school, which has more than 1500 students, will try to resume classes in the coming weeks but will probably have to do that at a different location.

Mr Laurenson says he has had to turn away students wanting to help clean up because of health concerns about raw sewage on the grounds.

Minister sees 'heart-breaking' damage

Earlier, Education Minister Anne Tolley visited schools in the city, all of which remained closed on Monday. She described the damage as heartbreaking.

The Ministry of Education says 18 state schools, 11 state-integrated schools and five private schools suffered serious damage last Tuesday.

Ms Tolley says engineers still need to examine schools to determine if they are safe, and reopenings will need to be carefully co-ordinated.

She says options include temporary sites for some schools, relocatable classrooms and relief-teacher support.

A Radio New Zealand reporter who was with Mrs Tolley says it is clear many schools are in no state to reopen in the near future.

Ms Tolley says she is aware of about 240 students whose families have moved out of Canterbury and enrolled them elsewhere.

The ministry says it will give extra funding to those schools taking on more students.

Schools outside Christchurch reopen

At least 37 schools in the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts west and north of Christchurch reopened on Monday, and seven others are expected to do the same later in the week.

The districts' schools were ordered to close after last week's earthquake, but are allowed to reopen this week if their buildings are safe.

The ministry's website shows that Darfield High School and Ellesmere College opened on Monday, while Kaiapoi High School plans to open on Tuesday. Lincoln High School will open on Wednesday.

Parents seeking care for their kids

Parents are starting to seek early-childhood care for their children, although early-childhood services in Christchurch do not know when they will be able to reopen.

The Ministry of Education is considering how it might relax regulations so it will be easier for centres to reopen.

In the meantime it will fund centres closed by the quake until 8 March.

And it will also double-fund children who re-enrol in another centre because their normal centre is shut.

The ministry says at least 52 of the 81 early-childhood centres in Selwyn and Waimakariri reopened on Monday.