Govt treading carefully on primary school return – Hipkins

Source: 1News

The return of primary school students to the classroom in Auckland and the Waikato is a matter the Government wants to "tread very carefully about", Chris Hipkins says.

On Wednesday, the education minister said they may return to school on November 15 .

"I’m acutely aware as both minister for Covid response and minister for education, that when we’ve got kids in primary schools, they’ll be the highest concentration gatherings of unvaccinated people in the country. I think that is something we want to tread very carefully about," Hipkins told Breakfast on Thursday.

"If I had to make the call right now as of today I would probably say 'no, not yet' but in a couple of weeks as we’ve signalled," he explained.

"Things will be different again, so we’ll know more about the trend in our case numbers by then, are we seeing a rapid escalation or are we starting to plateau in terms of case numbers, we’ll know more about that.

"We will see those vaccination rates really starting to ramp up. We’re over 90 per cent for first doses in Auckland now and the second doses are rapidly catching up."

Hipkins said all of this put the Government in a "better position" to make its decision. 

He also said the Government did have access to Pfizer's paediatric vaccine, but could not say how long it would take to get vials of it because many other nations will be requesting it too.

Children in classroom

The vaccine is yet to be approved for children under 12.

"We’re ready to go, to roll them out, just as soon as they’ve been approved in New Zealand and just as soon as we have access to them."

Auckland high school students in Year 11-13 were able to return to the classroom on October 26. 

Students in Year 9-10 are not able to return yet.