Parents anxious as pupils return to class

School begins . . . Preparing to welcome pupils back with new Covid restrictions at Woodend School are (from left) principal Adrienne Simpson, and teachers Emma Clarke, Matt Manzl, Brooke Purves, Terence Langlauds and Louise Hayes. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

Local Democracy Reporter

Principals of some North Canterbury schools say there is an element of anxiety among parents ahead of a return to class this week.

However school leaders believe they are well prepared with whatever curveballs Omicron may throw at them.

Pupils and teachers throughout the country begin the school year this week, with the Omicron outbreak threatening to cause further Covid-related disruptions for the sector.

Schools, alongside early learning services and playgroups can open under the red setting of the Traffic

Light System, but both teachers and children from Year 4 up must wear masks.
Eligible children do not need to be vaccinated.

Woodend School principal Adrienne Simpson says there was some nervousness from parents prior to sending their children back to school yesterday.

‘‘We have quite a few parents who are quite anxious understandably,’’ she

Five to 11-years-olds were confirmed as eligible for a special paediatric dose of the Covid-19 vaccine a fortnight ago.

‘‘They seem to be more anxious around the five-to-11-year-old vaccination,’’ Mr Simpson  Simpson said.

Mr Simpson says the school, which caters for Years one-to-8, was taking an impartial standpoint and would not be influencing parents around the issue of vaccinations for eligible pupils.

‘‘It’s not something we will be administering or promoting, that’s a parental choice.’’

Culverden’s Year one-to-13 Amuri Area School also began term one on Wednesday and principal James Griggs was confident with the systems it had in place for the school’s 350 pupils and staff.

‘‘We’ve been planning for this for quite some time,’’ he said.

‘‘I think we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.

‘‘Nobody really knows how things are going to go over the next few weeks, we
just hope that we’ve planned appropriately.’’

However he said there was a mix of relief to be back, paired with trepidation.
Staffing remained an ‘‘obvious concern’’ for the school, should a teacher contract the virus, a scenario which would dismiss them from the classroom for nearly a month.

‘‘When staff go off sick, they usually go off for a day or two and then come back. Twenty four-to-30 days is a different story altogether.

‘‘I’d say there would be an element of concern because things are so unpredictable. We have a contingency plan which we’ll implement when we need to.’’