Teachers on 'spectrum of anxiety' about return to school in Auckland

Source: 1News

Teachers in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland are on a "spectrum of anxiety" about a return to school, Papakura High School principal Simon Craggs says.

Year 11 to 13 students can go back to school  today (Tuesday) for the first time in 10 weeks.

Some schools in Auckland will reopen for senior students, some will partially open and some will remain closed as the city remains in Level 3.

Craggs said he was excited, though, and keen to see the "buzz" back at Papakura High School as students return to the grounds.

"He (Education Minister Chris Hipkins) signalled some time ago so it wasn't a huge surprise to us that this was going to happen, I think excitement from me is the right word," he told Breakfast.

"I've been going in the last few weeks without students and it's just not the same without that buzz around."

But there has been mixed feelings from teaching staff.

"We've got staff from the whole spectrum of anxiety to excitement and we just have to deal with that but we're really looking forward to our senior students coming on today," Craggs said.

"I think that our staff are ready now to become part of the frontline in this Covid-19 response and that means having students at school.

"We had an online staff meeting on Friday and I pointed out to the staff 'hey, look, I can't guarantee that Covid won't come into the school and that you're 100 per cent safe', just like I can't guarantee that they can't trip over walking up the stairs to their classroom and really hurt themselves, it's about managing that risk.

"And I'm confident that the public health advice from the Ministry of Health is enough to keep us as safe as is possible to manage that risk."

Craggs said some parents had reached out to say they wouldn't be dropping their children off at school just yet, so he wasn't sure how many pupils to expect back.

However, also on Breakfast, Howick College principal Iva Ropati said he was expecting 300 to 400 of their 1200 senior students back on Tuesday.

"We're all a little bit nervous and apprehensive and excited all rolled into one," Ropati said about the return of students.

"Students are nervous, staff are nervous about coming back. It's just a really unusual situation and we're hoping for the best.

"We think we're well-planned and ready to come back albeit a smaller group."

Ropati added that through previous Covid-19 outbreaks, the school community knew the health and safety expectations and were "learning to live with it now".

"Our staff, it is tough on them and I do feel for our teaching and support staff, they're the frontline not people like me in the leadership team, and they just get the work done.

"There is some concerns, they're a little bit anxious and all of that, but I take my hat off to them."