Coronavirus: Principal urges teachers to 'be positive and get on with it' as schools set to reopen

With children across the country set to return to class this week teachers need to "be positive and get on with it", says the principal of an Auckland intermediate school.

The move to allow children of essential workers back to school is one of a number of changes now allowed in level 3.

Tuesday marks the first day in more than five weeks the country is not at alert level 4, which saw schools close across the country and all non-essential businesses forced to close.

But on Wednesday, schools are reopening for children up to year 10 who cannot study from home or whose parents need to return to work.

Iain Taylor, principal of Manurewa Intermediate School, says although personally he would have preferred to wait until level 2 until reopening schools, he says teachers now need to get on with the job.

"I would much rather be opening under level 2 because level 2 is less complex, it's less complicated, but this is the way it is," Taylor told The AM Show on Tuesday. 

He said his school was expecting around 70 of the school's 900 children to return, and despite the fact teachers were "literally babysitters" the children coming to classes "clearly need to be there".

"We need to be doing this because there's been lots of sacrifice in our country. Most kids that are coming to school they're going to be engaging, they're going to be participating with other kids, and that's important for our kids - their whole wellbeing, and feeling like they're doing something is really, really important," he said.

"We've also made the decision, even if they're not the children of essential workers and they rock on into school we're going to keep them there because clearly they need to be there for a reason and some of our kids won't have had a nice experience over the past five weeks. It'll be fine - we just need to be positive and get on with it."

Staff had been preparing for around a week so far and have strong health and safety plans in place, he said, adding that the Ministry of Education had been "so supportive".

There has much controversy around whether it is safe for children to return to school.

The principal of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's former high school Morrinsville College condemned the Government's decision, saying it was "surprising" and could end in "potential disaster". 

But Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has repeatedly said the decision to allow schools to reopen is based on firm data from around the world showing schools are not a high-risk setting for children.

He also said it was "very unusual" for children to pass COVID-19 on to adults.