Schools can reopen from April 29, Jacinda Ardern announces

Schools and early learning centres can prepare to reopen on April 29 as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would leave Alert Level 4 from next Monday.

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Schools and early childhood centres can prepare to reopen as the country leaves Alert Level 4 next week. Source: 1 NEWS

"Schools and early learning centres can be accessed this week for cleaning, maintenance and any other preparations," Ms Ardern said in a press conference today.

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"The current plan is for schools to be able to reopen for a teacher-only day on 28 April as part of their preparation."

Anyone who needs to attend school is expected to be able to do so from April 29, she said.

However, schools may take longer to reopen.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Government is "very confident" that reopening early childhood learning centres and schools under Alert Level 3 will not impede efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

"The experience both in New Zealand and overseas with Covid-19 over the last few months shows that Covid-19 doesn't infect or affect children and teens in the same way as it does adults," Dr Bloomfield said today in a press conference. 

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The Director-General of Health said the Government is "very confident" about limiting the spread of Covid-19. Source: 1 NEWS

He explained that children and teenagers tended to have low infection rates, did not become as unwell as others if they do become infected, and do not tend to pass on the illness to adults.

"The advice and the approach is expressly designed to limit potential contacts of children and staff members and therefore, families might have to someone who may be infected.

"We're very confident that it's possible in Alert Level 3 to open up ECE and primary and middle schools, especially with that notice so they can prepare ahead."

The Early Childhood Council questioned the Ministry of Health's evidence in deciding to allow early childhood centres to reopen under the lowered alert level. 

"We can’t find the evidence that it’s safe to open – and there are several reported cases of young children contracting the disease that are hard to ignore," CEO Peter Reynolds said in a statement.

"There’s a huge amount of anxiety across the ECE community, who feel they’re being forced to open their doors when it’s not safe to do so."

There were also concerns over the Ministry of Education's "lack of detail" around safety and funding issues, Mr Reynolds said.

"No-one’s said how we keep bubbles of under-5s apart in our centres – do we put children in Zorbs?

"Until we receive evidence from the Ministry of Health, and assurance from the Ministry of Education, we continue to call for ECE centres to remain shut until at least Alert Level 2."

New Zealand's Alert Level 4 lockdown has been extended to midnight on Monday, April 27.