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More Support Needed For Schools And ECE

We are concerned the Government’s poor communication, shifting position and lack of consultation with the education sector while responding to COVID-19 has meant trust has been lost with educators and some parents, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“It’s clear the Government does not have a significant part of the Education sector on board with the Level 3 arrangements given the criticism by some educators and the open letter to the Prime Minister by the Early Childhood Council arguing for all centres to remain closed.

“The Government needs to release its health and scientific advice around education institutions opening at different levels as this is important for public confidence. The feedback from some parents and principals is that the blanket stay at home for years 11-13 doesn’t make sense. These young people are at a crucial stage in their studies trying to gain qualifications. Some schools are also questioning the wisdom of a teacher only day next week.

“Parents and educators are concerned about the challenges around physical distancing for young children and in schools that have spaces like modern learning environments. A number of educators are also raising issues of access to PPE. It’s important for the Government to be clear about this and any additional support in this area.

“It is important to be pragmatic and flexible for both parents and teachers in different situations. While some ECE centres and schools may choose to open, if others don’t want to they should not be forced to do so. ECE centres shouldn’t be financially penalised for remaining closed at Level 3 and the Government needs to ensure this doesn’t happen.

“We expect schools and principals will work through a plan with their communities for those children who have no one to care for them at home. However, there will be a huge variation across schools as to what may work for some in terms of staffing and attendance.

“We are still concerned about the lack of support for some tertiary students who are facing hardship and a number of tertiary institutions and early learning services are in difficult financial situations. The Government needs to start coming up with a comprehensive plan to address these issues.”

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