Over 10,000 laptops ordered by Ministry of Education still delayed

Thousands of students are missing out on online learning because devices ordered by the Ministry of Education have been delayed.

One percent of the usual school roll turned up on Wednesday while 4 percent went to early childhood learning centres.

But it's the number who can't log on to online lessons that's causing the most concern.

The children came marching one by one for the first day back. But it was a pretty surreal experience - and term two's first assembly at Manurewa Intermediate was plain bizarre  

Thirty-five students out of the usual 850 were divided into their bubbles and logged on to the online class from their classroom.

But the real issue is for those at home who don't have a device. This school alone is waiting on nearly 600 of them.

"If the devices turn up too late then it will probably be a waste of money for the Government," says Manurewa Intermediate deputy principal Thomas Bartlett.

"Hopefully they get out this week or early next week and for those students that are at home they can get on with their online learning."

At the start of the level 4 lockdown the Ministry of Education ordered 17,000 laptops for students.

But because of international demand it's so far only been able to send out 5338. And those that are missing out are likely to already be disadvantaged students.

"The digital divide wasn't created by COVID-19 but I guess it's been laid bare by COVID-19 and we're working as quickly as we can to close that gap," says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

"We know some families aren't connected to the internet."

Of course for other schools like decile 10 Redcliffs in Christchurch that hasn't been an issue.

"It's been really successful, almost the whole school has engaged in online learning," says  Principal Rose Mcinerney.

But for those who have returned to school under level 3  it didn't take long to get used to the new normal.

At early childhood centres the kids got into the swing of things quickly - it was probably harder for the parents.

"Having to hand your children over at the gate was really weird so it made it a bit surreal for the parents and the children," says Peekaboo Childcare owner Michelle Tod-Bosch.

And while physical distancing toddlers has proven to be impossible they've really nailed the concept of the bubble.

Something it's hoped they'll take home with them.

"We're reminding parents to keep their bubbles tight because the more they expand their bubbles the more risk comes into us," Tod-Bosch says.

Our youngest ones seem to get it - hopefully the rest of us will follow their lead.