Distance learning here for at least three weeks - Education Minister

By Bronson Perich
Education Minister Chris Hipkins reveals Level 3 details for NZ schools - Photo / File

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has outlined what Alert Level 3 schooling would look like today. His first action was to outline the criteria of who gets to attend school and who stays at home.

“Under Alert Level 3 most children and young people will be continuing distance learning.

“But children who can stay home should stay home," Minister Hipkins says.

The children of essential workers who are returning to work are allowed to return to school. All of the current COVID-19 fatalities in Aotearoa are from pakeke or older people.

As such, the minister is confident that provided that the appropriate measures are kept, that our tamariki will be safe.

“The chance of it (COVID-19) coming through the door or through the gate in the first place, is low.

“To be clear, it is safe, from a public health perspective, to have a group of children learning together.”

Schools and ECEs will be allowed to open for cleaning and other necessary preparations to open for a teacher only day on Tuesday 28 April. Schools and ECE should be ready for learning on Wednesday 29 April.

University students who returned home must stay within their whānau bubbles. Those who are in hostels, halls of residence, and self-contained units can continue their studies if they comply with safety measures.

Minister Hipkins believes that distance learning will continue for at least another three weeks. To that end, the government has implemented the following measures:

  • 6,700 internet routers sent to homes
  • Schools distributed 10,000 devices
  • 1,250 internet-ready devices such as computers, or tables
  • 4,500 internet-ready devices ready for shipping
  • 80,000 education packs in English sent
  • 10,000 education packs in Māori sent

The priority is for whānau in decile 1-3 schools that are preparing for NCEA. The education packs are being sent for those that have no internet access. Although parents are being asked to help with their learning, the minister was pragmatic.

“We are not expecting to completely replace the classroom environment at home," Minister Hipkins says.

The minister said that as our bubbles expand, that whānau can come together to help teach their children. He expected that about a million Kiwis will be at home at Level 3, so there is room for adaptation.