Kaikōura school reopens but 20% of students stay away

11:20 am on 29 November 2016

The first primary school in Kaikōura to re-open after the earthquake is missing a fifth of its roll after pupils left town in the quake's aftermath.

St Joseph's School principal Mary Gray.

St Joseph's School principal Mary Gray. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

All six schools in the district have been closed since the 7.8 magnitude shake on 14 November.

However, St Joseph's School opened at 10am today, with reduced hours, for any pupils that wanted to come back.

Most other schools will re-open tomorrow, also with shorter hours.

St Joseph's principal Mary Gray said she did not expect all 98 pupils to come back today - and in fact, not all of them were still in Kaikōura.

"As far as we know, about 20-plus have left the district."

There would be no formal lessons for those who did show up today.

"We're just going to gather and have a liturgy with the children and then we'll practise some [earthquake] drills."

The rest of the day would include a scavenger hunt and a sports afternoon, Mrs Gray said.

It was up to children and their families to decide when to come back, she said.

"It's very important to be with their peers, but the most important thing is that if they're uncomfortable coming to school, that they stay with their families."

She was not too worried about the break from formal schooling.

"Naturally, parents are concerned about their children lacking education, but actually I think what's happened over the last two weeks is education in itself."

Education Minister Hekia Parata was due to visit Kaikōura Primary School today.

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