Parents worry about safety of their children as Auckland primary schools prepare to re-open

Primary Schools around Auckland are busy preparing to welcome students back for the first time in three months. 

There are countless decisions to be made that vary from school to school, parent to parent and student to student.

But it's not a given that students will be back, with COVID anxieties and simple practicalities at play.

Sheryl Waterman has been a busy grandmother over Auckland's three month lockdown, caring for her three grandchildren while their parents work.

She's not completely happy with news that her eldest grandchild can return to school next week.

"Well I was a little bit annoyed because if you want to send them back to school, then they should go back full time," Waterman tells Newshub. 

Next Wednesday school students from new entrants through to year eight can go back to face to face learning part time.  

The when has been answered, but the how is very much up for interpretation. 

"That can include alternating days, half days, through year levels or through whanau groupings," Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.  

Lujoe Johnstone, who is the Acting Principal of Kereru Park Campus says she is "really, really nervous" about schools opening up. 

She's sent a survey out to her school community asking them how they are feeling, and what will work for them.

"From the responses that we've gotten from our whanau, they are just really, really nervous," Johnstone tells Newshub. "There is a lot of anxiety around whether their child will be safe."

Johnstone says she is expecting less than half of her students to be back in class this year, but one teacher Newshub has spoken to, believes less than one third of her students will return. 

"We are going to do the best that we can to keep all of our whanau engaging with us," Johnstone says.

COVID anxiety is something a lot of schools are battling and the Auckland Primary Principals Association is encouraging schools to speak to their communities because it will be different for everyone.

"With this decision, we have a lot of flexibility about how we can get children back to school," Auckland Primary Principals President Stephen Lethbridge says. "The Auckland region has such diversity, so it's really important each school caters their openings to their own communities."

But it's not just anxiety that will keep students away from school, for some, it's the impracticality of part time learning.  

As Tamaki Makaurau opens up, so do the demands of working parents. 

"We are not going to send her to school, we are going to keep her back because it just doesn't work for us,"  Waterman says.

Meaning the wait for some children to get back to school will last a little longer.

Watch the full story above.