Government too slow to re-open schools

The Government is wrong to keep most children out of school in Auckland until 15 November at the earliest, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The “plan” announced today is a vague suggestion that primary and intermediate schools might begin to open on 15 November, and no plan at all for years 9 and 10 – critical years of early adolescence when learning habits are formed.

“Keeping kids out of school in Auckland for so long is doing more harm than good.

“Auckland’s kids have become the collateral damage from our slow vaccination uptake and the Government’s utter failure to plan and prepare for the Delta outbreak.

“After two months out of the classroom, more and more students are disengaging, and with each passing week we are losing more kids from the education system.

“With only three out of five students in New Zealand attending school regularly at the best of times, we cannot sustain further disruption and loss of momentum. 

“While many schools have put a huge effort into online learning, for far too many students it is just not working. 

“Some parents and students will worry about the risks of returning during an outbreak, especially for the unvaccinated under-12s, but my sense is that far more parents and students are worried about the risk of not returning – the loss of interest and enthusiasm, the loneliness, the mental strain.

“The Government is misguided in being ultra-cautious in reopening schools. Waiting for nearly everyone to get around to getting vaccinated is too slow.

“We need more urgency on this important issue.”