Kids stuck in Level 4 watch as peers head back to class

Source: 1News

Many young Kiwis have headed back to school on Thursday but some have had to watch their peers go back without them.

It’s believed thousands of students are trapped within the Auckland Alert Level 4 boundaries, unable to cross the border to go to their normal schools.

Year 11 student Ryan Higgins boards at a Waikato High School and lives near the southern edge of the Auckland boundary.

Higgins was denied an exemption when he applied.

“[When everyone’s] online everyone is in the same boat but with me being here, it does add sometimes extra stress because you know you've got exams and you know everyone is getting help and you're falling just a bit behind the pack,” he said.

Higgins' exams are next week and, while he says the school and teachers are trying their best, it has been very difficult.

“Sometimes you really want help from that teacher and they’re dealing with 20 other students in class so you're obviously heavily outnumbered. So you have to wait for the teacher to check in.” 

It’s been more than seven weeks since classrooms have been full.

The Health Ministry told 1News “strong precautions are necessary” because of the highly transmittable Delta variant.

It says “students living in Auckland are not able to cross the Auckland Alert Level boundary to attend schools in other regions”.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which manages the borders, echoed the Ministry by saying “movement in and out of Auckland must be strictly limited”.

However, the National Party’s Paul Goldsmith told 1News the Government has taken a “very very tight view” and they should be able to work out a way so that kids can get to school.

“I was talking to one school where they’ve got 70 kids in this category. There are a number of schools in this position and the Government had 18 months to sort out how to work things,” he said.

While the Government has now announced all students across the country can now apply for extra credits, Higgins has been told he doesn’t qualify for other benefits, like changes to university entrance, because it’s the school that has to be in lockdown for 20 days.

The Government has said the Education Ministry and NZQA are working with schools near the boundary individually to try and deal with students like Higgins.