NZEI Te Riu Roa has postponed paid union meetings for primary teachers and principals due to begin nationwide today as a mark of respect for the 50 children, men and women murdered during the terrorist attacks in Christchurch on Friday.
NZEI President Lynda Stuart said the attacks at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Masjid Mosque were an appalling tragedy for the families and friends of the 50 people killed.
“Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch during this tragic time, and in particular with the children and families of the Muslim community.”
Lynda Stuart said NZEI’s National Executive had taken the lead from member leaders in Christchurch who wanted to be able to focus on children and their needs, and out of respect for the 50 people dead.
“I am very proud of the way members supported their learners, parents and community in schools and early childhood education centres throughout Christchurch on Friday. As they did during the Canterbury earthquakes, teachers and support staff prioritised the safety and well-being of their students, even when their own families may have been at risk.”
She said there would be children in Christchurch and all around the country who would find the attacks disturbing or re-traumatising, so education professionals had an ethical duty to focus on their well-being this week.
“The attacks have shocked and horrified us as adults. For children who have previously experienced violence, racism or trauma, who are refugees or migrants, or who simply feel the safety of their world has been profoundly disrupted, stability and continuity with the adults in their lives will be particularly important over the next weeks.”
She said the hatred and violence of the attacks was profoundly disturbing.
“This next week is a time to pause and grieve, but we will not allow the attacks to undermine teaching and learning for children. These events only make us more committed to standing up for the values of tolerance, respect, diversity and democracy at the heart of public education.”
NZEI will advise schools and its members of new arrangements for them to consider and vote on current employment agreement offers as soon as possible. A decision on paid union meetings due to be held for Area School members in the week of March 25th will also be made this week.
NZEI is working closely with Christchurch staff and member leaders to support members through this difficult time. This includes keeping the NZEI member service centre (0800 NZEI HELP) open during the weekend. New dates for paid union meetings will be notified to schools shortly.