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All Schools Can Return To Onsite Learning

Auckland and Waikato students in years 1-10 can return to face-to-face learning at schools and kura from 17 November, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

”Lockdowns can be stressful for children and young people, so returning to some on-site learning will mean they can reconnect with their teacher and friends. Starting this month will provide certainty ahead of the Christmas break and before the new school year starts,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Public health advice supports a return to onsite learning. Measures to help minimise the risk of COVID-19 will include mask wearing from year 4 up in most cases, ventilating classrooms, limiting the number of students on site, and making sure groups of children distance from each other.

“Each school and kura will decide what works best for their learners and their community. That might be by alternating days or half weeks – through year levels, or through whānau groupings. Full-time learning will continue on-site for students whose parents have needed it, for example to go to work.

“Thank you to those who have engaged with us on this over the past fortnight, we appreciate your feedback and have taken on board that you wanted a few extra days preparation time, and for all students not to come back at once.

“The health advice also tells us that in other countries, out-of-school activities create a greater risk of transmission than what happens at places of learning. It is clear that the risk of reopening schools is outweighed by the benefits of kids re-engaging with their learning face-to-face in this context,” Chris Hipkins said.

While most students in years 1-8 will be returning part-time, years 9 and 10 will be able to return full time alongside those already back at high schools in years 11-13.

“With really strong vaccination rates, the balance of risk has shifted,” Chris Hipkins said.

“As vaccinations rates increase, including the requirement for teachers to have at least one COVID-19 vaccination from Monday, the risk to children and students is lowered.

Chris Hipkins said year 11-13 students have been back at school at Level 3 full-time for some weeks now to help re-engage in their learning, and prepare for exams.

“Parents, caregivers and teachers have been doing an incredible job helping children to adapt and learn online, I want to thank them for that and acknowledge those school leaders and teachers who will be working hard from here to prepare for hybrid learning from 17 November.”

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