Larger schools have been encouraged to stagger Year level returns and parents worried about risk can make transition arrangements with their child’s school to delay their return, Ardern confirmed in her latest address.
However, Ardern emphasised that under Level 2, all children should be able to attend school, so any staggered response needs to come into play before May 18 or fall under specific arrangements with particularly concerned parents.
New Zealand will ease into a wide variety of Level 2 guidelines from Thursday, May 14. The Ministry of Education released the following information for schools set to operate under Alert Level 2:
“At Level 2, almost all children and young people will be able to attend early learning services, schools and kura onsite, including students in years 11 to 13. The only exceptions are children or young people who are sick have any COVID-19 symptoms, are in isolation, or are awaiting the result of a test. Distance learning will still be available for those who need to remain at home, and Ministry staff will continue to support children with learning support needs where they are required to remain at home.
Playground, sports equipment use and sports, including contact sports, can resume at Alert Level 2 under certain conditions. School transport services will also return to normal schedules. The ongoing safety of drivers and students and the ability to contact trace will be a priority at Alert Level 2.
“Residential Special Schools, Day Special Schools and satellite units will all reopen at Alert Level 2. Playcentres and playgroups can also meet, provided the public health measures for early learning services are in place. School hostels can fully return to occupation at Level 2, and OSCAR, along with other before and after school programmes, can resume. The Food in Schools programme will also be fully operational (with extra health provisions).
If a school or early learning service has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, they must close for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.”
Schools should still prioritise physical distancing measures wherever possible and remain vigilant about hygiene and cleaning.