As we move towards Level 2 the Government needs to ensure it does more to get the confidence of educators and parents for all schools and Early Childhood Education services to open their doors, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Less than five per cent of children are attending schools and Early Childhood Education (ECE) services right now. It’s clear this is in part due to the Government requesting attendance only if needed, but also because educators have voiced their concern that the Government was moving too fast.

“National has raised a range of questions this week focused on ensuring parents and educators can feel confident about opening their doors to children when the Government says it is safe to do so. Right now many don’t have that confidence.

“The Government needs to improve the guidance to schools and ECE services relating to risk and management. For instance, there is conflicting information around the world on transmission. Both the Education and Health Ministries should work with lead scientists to provide an analysis of this.

“Some other areas the Government needs to focus on so educators and parents can have confidence include:

  • Greater confidence of rapid contact tracing for education providers if an incident occurs in the future
  • Additional funding for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and greater support for schools and ECE services to access appropriate PPE in a timely manner
  • Immediate information on where and how flu jabs for educators can be accessed quickly
  • Expansion of the Health analysis of Marist to include all of the school Covid-19 incidents and release of high level findings
  • Better information for educators and parents on the risks and management of Covid-19 in schools and ECE services
  • Greater psychosocial support for children

“National remains concerned about years 11-13 students. These young people need greater support at this time and we don’t agree with the blanket ban on them attending school. The Government needs to announce additional support for students who need greater assistance.

“The reality is that some schools will be working through arrangements for Level 2 and they may want some flexibility in different year groups in order to meet health and safety. We have reiterated the need for the Government to take a pragmatic approach rather than a top down approach.

“Many schools and ECE services are raising additional financial viability issues due to a loss of international students and fundraising in schools, or dropping rolls in ECE.

“We want to work in a constructive way to ensure schools and ECE services are up and running safely, but they need the Government to work harder to give parents and educators the confidence that when they do open their doors, it’s safe to do so.”

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