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Primary schools able to open their gates next week

Mitchell Redman
Christchurch East School
Children with essential working parents will be able to return to Canterbury schools on Wednesday.  Mitch Redman

Next Wednesday, gates will be unlocked at schools all around Canterbury, but it is not back to normal just yet.

Level three restrictions will begin at 11.59pm on Monday, with a nationwide teachers-only day being enforced on Tuesday, for any last minute cleaning or maintenance. 

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has advised parents to keep their children home if possible. 

Like many workplaces around the country, primary schools have adopted online video calling, to make sure teaching continues. 

The new method of teaching has come with positives and negatives. Whilst students have been able to learn in different ways, the socio-economic divide remained clear within some Christchurch communities. 

"There is still inequity within our communities, regarding access to digital devices or the internet. Quite a number in my school only have internet via their parents' hotspots on their phone which isn’t really appropriate. So this is an opportunity for New Zealand and the Government to address this issue as a whole," President of the Canterbury Primary School Principal Association, Nathan Hawke, said. 

With many teachers in the early childhood sector against the decision to return to work, the feeling among primary school teachers appears to be more optimistic. 

"They’re pretty keen to get back. They’re missing teaching, they’re missing kids, obviously we won’t be teaching in the same way that we did pre-COVID but the main thing is that the distance learning is carrying on, and we should be fine," Hawke said. 

With some students at home, and others in the classroom, schools across Canterbury have ensured everybody is being taught the same lessons.

Hawke said teachers could expect to see "slippage" in reading or writing due to COVID-19, but some aspects of lockdown are invaluable. 

"Students are actually talking a lot more to parents and family at home, because they're not having to rush around or head off to work. Meaningful discussions are taking place, so they’re able to listen, question and do all those things. I’m actually very impressed with the oral and language capabilities that this has produced," Hawke said.