Students to return to kura kaupapa Māori in Alert Level 1

By Taroi Black

All of Jaydene's classmates are learning from home because their parents are still concerned about COVID-19. 

After almost three weeks since schools reopened, teachers are still dealing with a low percentage of student returnees and they're expecting it to stay that way even under Alert Level 1.

Their principal Mahia Nathan says, "Despite reaching Level 2, we're aware that many students have been advised by their parents to remain home until further updates to keep safe."

But other schools have only seen a small increase in absence - with only 10% of students still at home. 

"Our school's system allocated each student to their respective school house bubble and they must comply with the rules," Te Kura o Piripono principal Marama Hune says. "So we've seen a significant increase in attendance. They're happy coming back and so are their parents." 

Kura kaupapa Māori nationwide have seen a 50% reduction in attendance. 

Spokesperson Hohepa Campbell says parents are  concerned for their kids' safety "based on continuous updates on television here in Aotearoa and abroad."

Campbell expects school attendance to rise once this country is in Level 1. 

"Whānau tell us they're worried about the transmission among family members. Some situations consist of elders down to toddlers," Campbell adds.

"I'm not concerned about their situations because we continue to operate our classes online," Te Kura o Piripono's Natha says.

But even when schools go back to normal, it will be a new normal.