Government negligence keeps kids locked out of school

The Government’s lack of preparedness is the reason students are missing out on even more critical school time, says National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.

“It has been known for months that Delta is transmissible in the school environment.

“Yet the Government didn’t make the necessary preparations, including maximising vaccine uptake among teachers, to make sure schools could reopen for term four.

“This situation was entirely predictable and proves the Government is incapable of thinking ahead.

“The Government did not even know which and how many teachers were vaccinated. A Government that was determined to prioritise children’s education would have taken a basic step like this.

“An opportunity was missed to drive and encourage vaccination uptake among teachers when Delta first emerged earlier in the year.

“For students sitting NCEA and other exams, this is another real blow at a time when they desperately need face-to-face time with teachers.

“But throughout the whole education system greater direction is needed to ensure students receive a minimum standard of education.

“Online learning is variable and risks intensifying educational inequities.

“The quality of education a student receives in lockdown should not be a lottery.

“Well before now, the Government should’ve taken the actions required for schools to safely reopen for term four.

“It’s vital that this week is used to fast-track the reopening of schools - vaccination centres on  schools grounds and the use of rapid antigen tests by teachers are key measures the Government must consider.

“New Zealand cannot allow Labour’s negligence to further jeopardise the educational progress and wellbeing of children.”