Emmanuel Vallaidan and his son Nathan outside Tahunanui School on Monday. Photo: Jonty Dine.

School closures a ‘struggle’ but ‘the right call’


As Emmanuel Vallaidan went to pick up his son Nathan on Monday afternoon there was an air of inevitability.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had announced that afternoon that the following day schools would be closed for the next four weeks.

“I think it’s the right call, for the safety of the teachers and kids,” Emmanuel said outside Tahunanui School “I know it’s going to be a struggle for the parents but I believe they will cope for the safety of everyone.”

Schools have sent students home with learning packs to try and ensure that their four weeks out of classroom will be well spent.

Wakefield School principal Peter Verstappen, who is also the Nelson Principals Association president, said he hoped students would be able to continue their education.

“We urge families to follow the government’s directives about self-isolation, to support each other and do all they can to stay well.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the school holidays, originally scheduled to start on April 9, would be brought forward so they sit within the four-week shutdown.

All education institutions are working to teach online where it was appropriate and could be delivered consistently, he said.

Many had already been working to establish how to do that after the Government announced the self-isolation measures last week.

Hipkins said funding for all educational facilities would continue through the lockdown.

“Funding for all education providers will continue to flow as normal. Funding for early childhood and tertiary providers will not be cut or clawed back based on non-attendance or other key performance indicators.”

Mum of four Tysha Anderson, whose children attend both Victory Primary School and Nelson Intermediate School, was one local parent who started keeping her children home before the Government’s announcement.

“This is very serious, this virus kills and I’m not going to risk my child’s health for anyone. It is our job as parents to keep our babies safe and healthy … We plan to do some school work at home, play games, do crafts and take the opportunity to have family time.”

Broadgreen Intermediate posted on their Facebook page: “Please look after yourself and your whanau in these unprecedented times.”