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Buddy system allowed to care for children of essential workers

A buddy-system to help look after certain children will be allowed during the level four Covid-19 lockdown. 

Desks in classroom (file picture). Source: istock.com

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted told media today that while the ideal arrangement during the level four period "might be that you limit your connections to your immediate family, in practice some people will need help from others".

The Prime Minister announced yesterday that all schools will be closed from today except for the children of essential workers such as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. From Thursday they will be closed entirely.

Coronavirus: What you need to know about schools

Ms Holsted said some families will be able to allocate a 'buddy' who can care for children who need it. 

"In the case, for example, of a child of an essential worker who cannot stay home and they need a child cared for," she said.

"If they identify a trusted buddy, as long as they're not elderly or vulnerable in other ways, that person is now identified as part of your self-isolated group, they become they child's caregiver."

"It is critical that that buddy cannot have other contacts, other than their own household. You all become one group, but it should be a tight group, the smaller the better."

She also used the example of allocating a buddy to help care for a child with disabilities to assist parents.

Ms Holsted also spoke about the issues with online learning for some students at low decile schools due to internet connection. 

Internet devices are being sourced for households - however many of the low-decile areas had no internet connection access or coverage "at all".