Education material and devices being sent to students in COVID-19 lockdown as part of $87 million package

Hard copy education packages and electronic devices will be sent out to school students in COVID-19 lockdown as part of an $87 million Government package.

The Ministry of Education is developing the package to ensure school students can continue to learn at home during lockdown when term 2 begins on 15 April.

The Government is working with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver modems to households that need them with thousands expected to be sent out each week.

There are about 350 students where there is currently no internet potential of any kind, and the Government is exploring the possibility of satellite coverage for those households.

"It's important to reinforce up front that the Government is still working to a timeframe of a four-week level 4 lockdown but we're planning for every scenario," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

"That means, in education, developing robust distance learning infrastructure and a more resilient system so that learners can receive education in any scenario."

Hipkins said 17,000 electronic devices have been ordered by the Government and are confirmed to be shipped to students this month, and thousands more have been ordered from overseas.

"Where we are unable to immediately connect a household with the Internet or get a device to a student, we will be working with schools and kura to provide hard-copy learning materials direct to homes."

Hipkins also urged parents not to worry if their child doesn't receive a device or hard copy materials in the first wave.

What devices will students get?

Schools will have the option of selecting from laptops or Chromebooks, depending on what they are already using, to supply to students to use as learning tools, and the devices will be registered with the schools.

The Ministry of Education is providing insurance cover for devices sent to student homes where they are not already covered by the school's insurance.

The devices will come pre-loaded with a content filter to block inappropriate content from being access by students at home, but there will be no central monitoring, with parents advised to keep an eye on their children's online activities.

As for the hardcopy education packs being sent to some homes, the Government is prepared to ship tens of thousands of them if required over the coming weeks.

The Ministry of Education is preparing a variety of packs for all age groups: early learners from year 1 through to NCEA, including for learners in Maori medium.

The Government will start by prioritising delivery to younger students and those who are disadvantaged, with NCEA students able to request packs in up to six subject areas each.

The packs will include a parent guidance sheet on how to support their child's learning, with suggestions for activities to accompany the material.

Schools will be advised when students receive a pack so teachers can connect with learners as they work through the packages when they can.

The Government estimates about 200,000 packs to be delivered this week, with 40,000 available for delivery next week.

TV channels for learning

In addition to the learning packs and devices being sent out, the Government will also fund two TV channels to broadcast education-related content. One will be for English medium and the other for Maori medium, with content targeted to Pacific and other communities.

The broadcasts will run over six and a half hours long during the day and include specialised content for early learners, support for parents, an hour of Te Reo Maori, and a broad range of music, numeracy, literacy, and science activities.