Coronavirus: Why schools and kindergartens will reopen under alert level 3

The Government has announced some students will return to the playground as early as next week, despite concerns from teachers.

On Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the much-anticipated news that New Zealand will move to alert level 3 on Tuesday April 27.

Schools will reopen as will early childhood education centres. 

When asked about whether it was safe for children to go back to school the Director-General of Health said there has been extensive research into the matter.

"We looked very carefully at international evidence," said Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

"The experience over the past few months was that COVID-19 doesn't affect children and teens the same way it does adults - so they don't get as sick, and they don't seem to pass it on to adults," Dr Bloomfield continued. 

He said that the provision for children returning to school was that the appropriate physical distancing measures could be put in place. 

"Our approach is designed to limit exposure to people who may be infected."

Ardern reiterated that under alert level 3 the advice to stay home is much the same - including children of school age.

"If you can keep your children at home, do so," she said. 

"If you can work from home, then do so. [Children should be sent to school] in scenarios where that's not possible so we are expecting low levels of attendance."

There has been controversy in recent weeks over the decision to allow early childcare centres to reopen with some people saying the centres will become "breeding grounds" for the virus.

Similarly, an Auckland high school principal said the decision meant teachers would be "glorified babysitters".

Teachers and other staff members will be able to enter school grounds from Tuesday April 21 to prepare classrooms and other equipment for students to return. 

The Government expects most children who need to attend school to be able to do so from April 29, but it may take longer for some schools and early learning centres to be open.