17 Nov 2021

Auckland primary pupils 'quite excited' for return to class

11:08 am on 17 November 2021

Two primary schools in Manurewa are taking different approaches as pupils return for the first time in three months.

Back to school.

Photo: 123RF

All Auckland students from new entrants to Year 10 - about 200,000 children - are now allowed back but with rules including separate groups that do not mingle, and having face masks for Year 4 and up.

Within these guidelines, it is up to each school to decide the best way to keep children and staff safe.

Randwick Park School in Manurewa will split the roll in two, and have half the pupils in class for two days of the week, the rest for the next two days, and a fifth day of online earning for all.

Principal Karen McMurray said the school would make sure children from the same whānau could be at school on the same day.

"Our parents are tremendously supportive ... I know the children are quite excited, along with the teachers."

At Finlayson Park School, principal Shirley Maihi was expecting only about a third of children to attend on the first day back.

The school will be to any whānau who want to send their children to class, she said.

"We've had several issues around trying to contact our parents.

"We've got a number of transient parents, parents who've moved out of the area while Covid has been on. We've put messages on Facebook and our school website and we will see today how many do turn up."

About 35 percent of children returned after last year's lockdown and Maihi was expecting about the same this time.

McMurray said the school had managed to get in touch with all but about seven parents, and administration staff had been calling them to make sure they were aware of the arrangements.

"Some of them are a little bit wary, I think they just want to wait and see and get confidence in the systems we've put in place before they're going to start sending their children back."

She said parents were generally supportive of the arrangements, such as mask-wearing for Year 4 children and above, and was expecting more pupils to return next week.

Mount Eden Normal School puts out the welcome sign for returning primary pupils.

Mount Eden Normal primary school set was among those welcoming pupils back. Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

At Mount Eden Normal Primary School, parent Malcolm O'Neil was a little nervous about having his daughter back in class.

But he said he was happy with the steps the school was taking to keep students safe, and knowing all staff there were vaccinated put his mind at ease.

Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Council is still waiting to gauge the impact on members of the vaccine mandate as children head back to centres this week.

In a survey carried out on Monday, 31 percent of members who responded expected to lose one or two teachers and another 10 percent said they would lose between three and five.

Council chief executive Simon Laube said it was not clear yet whether any centres have had to send children home due to staff shortages.

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