Reopening schools absolute priority

The Government should move heaven and earth to make sure schools reopen in Auckland on October 18, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Auckland students have endured seven weeks out of the classroom, they need to get back to school after the holidays.

“Unlike other countries, the Government has given no guidelines on the amount of contact time students should have with teachers during lockdown, many students have had very little structured education during this time.

“The longer this carries on, the deeper the inequities will reach into our system.

“In the meantime, as exams approach for senior students, attending face-to-face classes is vital.

“We accept that some teachers and students are anxious about the safety of a return, given the current outbreak.

“The Minister needs to move urgently to increase vaccination of both teachers and students.

“A starting point would be to have vaccination centres at every school on certain days throughout the holidays. By 18 October every teacher and student over the age of 12 will have had six weeks to get vaccinated. 

“The Government should move to have rapid antigen tests available for teachers to test themselves regularly.

“If we can find a way for it to be safe for kids and teachers to go to the supermarket, surely we can find a way for it be safe for them to attend school.

“We cannot allow fear to keep our children away from their education any longer, attending school is far too important.”