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Francesca Rudkin: Teachers have done what was asked, it's time for government to return the favour

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Feb 2022, 10:48AM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Francesca Rudkin: Teachers have done what was asked, it's time for government to return the favour

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Feb 2022, 10:48AM

If you’ve been wondering how life looks living with Covid 19 in the community, and you’ve got kids, you probably got a good taste of it this week.  

Since the beginning of the school year, 3 weeks ago, there have been only 4 positive student cases at my kids’ college.  

But just 4 cases have had quite an impact when the self-isolating regulations come into play – which are that close contacts self-isolate for 5 days and if you have a negative PCR test on the fifth day then you’re good to come back.  

By the end of this week the entire year 13 year had been sent home, several of my son’s year 11 mates’ Saturday sports games were cancelled as they didn’t have the numbers to make up a team, and my daughter said there were only 14 of 24 students in her maths class. 

I quite like the maths class ratio, but Aucklanders have been told test results could take up to 5 days to be processed so students and staff sent home are currently looking at being out for up to 10 days. 

More than ever, we are living life day by day.  

It was reported this week that the number of schools with Covid 19 almost doubled to 320 in three days, 177 of them are in Auckland. There are just over 2,500 schools in New Zealand, and 4,600 early learning services, so that number seems reasonable at the beginning of an outbreak.  

I’m grateful my kids’ school has created a hybrid system which will see kids and teachers continue to learn and teach from either school or at home depending on whether they’re self-isolating or not.  

It’s all do-able and everyone is being very positive, but let’s face it – it’s a blimmin’ nightmare. A hybrid is just that, neither one thing or the other, and schools don’t have enough relievers or extra staff to carry the load if staff get sick and are unable to work.   

So, the government leaving teachers off the isolation exemption scheme for critical workers is absolutely bonkers. 

We know the importance of our kids being in school, for their mental health, education, social skills, and the general well-being of the whole family. The government has told us they want as many kids in school as possible this year, with as little disruption as possible. Our 15-year-old neighbour’s whole college shut down on Friday for the day, and we’re halfway through February. 

It's clear schools are going to need to use RAT’s to keep operating. Their nurses and first aid staff should have already been trained in how to use them, and their supplies should be ready to unpack 

But they’re not.  

Yesterday Early Childhood Council CEO Simon Laube said “It won’t take long at current rates before we’re looking at mass ECE closures. Smaller centres only need one or two teachers to be positive and they’ll have to close for long periods.”  

Early learning centres are disappointed with the lack of access to Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). 89.5% of Early Childhood Council members surveyed were hoping to use RATs to manage Omicron infection in centres, while 96.2% believed it was the government’s responsibility to provide them.  

Teachers have done what they were asked; they got vaccinated to keep themselves and their communities safe so they can keep our schools open. 

It would be nice to see the government return the favour and help them get on with the job.   

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