Principals Federation supports decision to shut all Auckland schools until next

Principals are supporting the Ministry of Education's decision to shut all Auckland schools until after Waitangi weekend. 

It was announced on Monday afternoon the ministry had directed all schools, kura, early learning services and tertiary institutions in Auckland, from Wellsford to Pukekohe, to close until February 7.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) asked the ministry to help minimise traffic on Auckland roads while vital infrastructure was urgently repaired.

Leanne Otene, the president of the New Zealand Principals Federation, told AM on Tuesday there has been little pushback from school leaders she had spoken to.

"I have been monitoring what's been going on in Auckland and I've spoken to many principals and the majority of them are very supportive of this move by the ministry," she told co-host Melissa Chan-Green. 

"Our first priority is the safety of our tamariki and our staff. We know that getting to and from school is part of making sure that we make sure that we do everything to keep them safe, so we actually are behind this move."

The president of the New Zealand Principals Federation Leanne Otene.
The president of the New Zealand Principals Federation Leanne Otene. Photo credit: AM

Otene said with more rain on the cards for Auckland on Tuesday, she understands why the ministry made the decision. 

"Vital infrastructure needs to be fixed to make the roads safe for our parents to get their tamariki to and from school.

"We're expecting another downpour later today and if parents are called out at work, that's going to be a substantial inconvenience to them getting back to pick up their children and schools will be left with having to support those families." 

Otene understands there may be anxiety amongst students in Auckland who've already had to deal with a "crisis" after COVID-19 forced schools to operate remotely for large parts of 2020 and 2021. 

"I acknowledge that yet again, Aucklanders [are] dealing with a crisis. My colleagues once again are rallying to support their communities and there will be some people who are disappointed at the decision to close until the 7th of February," she told AM. 

"But I do feel this decision is made with our tamariki's best interests at heart. Health and safety come first."

Watch the full interview with Leanne Otene above.