Returning to school at Level 3 like Russian Roulette - Pat Newman

updated By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Pat Newman says that he doesn't want to play Russian Roulette with the life of a child at Alert Level 3.

The principal of Horahora School is urging the Government to rethink the Level 3 guidelines for schools and to take into account the nature of children and the school environment. 

Some of the new guidelines are that children are to be 1m apart in the classroom and use the same seat throughout the day.

Newman believes it's unrealistic saying, "What am I going to do to my five-year-olds?  Put a chain around their ankles and tie that to that chair?"

Teachers know that they have a role in bringing some normality back for the country but it can wait explains Newman, "Like me, they know our country has to get back but two weeks - is that going to make a huge difference - except in the polls."

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted says, "We are already working closely with the sector to develop systems that meet public health requirements so that learning places are safe. We are also working on providing more detailed guidance very soon to support the planning for schools, kura, kōhanga reo and Early Learning Services to physically re-open.

"We know that we are not in ordinary circumstances, and we will work with education leaders in the lead up to the physical opening.  All of our decisions about “being ready” will be in line with Public Health advice, guidance and agreement.

"Parents, whānau and caregivers like all New Zealanders know we are in extraordinary times and they will play their part to help keep their children at home, but it is important that schools and early learning centres are physically open for those parents who need them. 

"Where parents and caregivers need their children to go to early learning or school, we will work with Early Learning Services and schools to make sure they can safely manage the numbers. 

"Many schools are already in cooperative arrangements through Kāhui Ako, and where these can be used to support responding to the need of children and their families, we would be very supportive of that."

She also says, "It has been great to hear from teachers and leaders willing to make ECE’s and schools available to those  who need them.”

Te Kura o Ōtangarei principal Myles Ferris says, "As a principal, if I feel like I can’t open the school safely then I’m not going to do it until everything is put in place."

He continues to explain that principals should be making the final decision on whether or not a school should open.

"Principals - that's why you're in the leadership role.  You make the best call for you, your school and your community."

New Zealand Principals Federation is meeting tonight to discuss the changes to education through Level 3.