Cafe owner Greg Cornes has called the Government’s decision to keep Auckland school holidays unchanged short-sighted and a poor outcome for families with children.
“There’s a lot of pressure on parents… to keep businesses afloat and household incomes coming in,” he told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan this evening.
“The added pressure of having to balance your children again continuously is a big strain.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced earlier today that school holidays in Auckland will remain at the same time as the rest of the country, starting on SaturdayOctober 2.
Cabinet had agreed in principle that Tāmaki Makaurau will move out of level 4 next Tuesday, which means if there are two more weeks of level 3, the city will hit level 2 just in time for the school holidays.
Greg Cornes owns Auckland bagel chain Goodness Gracious and is one of many parents who had been calling for school holidays to be brought forward.
He and his wife, both business owners, have two primary and intermediate school-aged children.
He is expecting a flurry of activity for hospitality businesses once Auckland comes out of lockdown, so managing children at home during the school holidays at the same time will make for “a very pressured situation”.
“It’s a pretty poor outcome for Auckland,” he said, “I believe we will face further disruption until the 90 per cent vaccination target is hit and with that this holiday [not changing] is a bit short-sighted.”
Hipkins had acknowledged the impact of school closure on parents, as well as on children’s learning.
But keeping the holidays as they were would avoid disrupting people’s plans, including curriculum planning and family holidays, and would reduce anxiety, he said.
“This wasn’t a straightforward decision. I acknowledge the added pressure currently on parents and families in Auckland, but as Education Minister, my primary concern has to be the effects on children’s education and wellbeing and on the good running of our schools.”
Teachers who have children have also been teaching online while juggling childcare at home during lockdown.
Asked about teachers needing a break too, Cornes said he holds the “unpopular opinion” that online education were not “full days” for teachers and students.
“I suggest [teachers’] workload isn’t as much as what it is typically… just on our end seeing how the kids are engaged with the education online, it isn’t the same.”
He says younger children will miss out on the socialisation they get in school.
“As kids get older it’s easier with screen time interaction, but for the younger ones it seems especially hard, and that for me is what we’re most disappointed with.”
Principals and teachers backed the Government’s decision, many relieved at the announcement.
“We believe in maintaining the current plan and minimising further disruption – we don’t want any more uncertainty,” said Bruce Jepsen, president of Te Akatea, the NZ Māori Principals Association.
NZ Principals’ Federation president Perry Rush agreed, highlighting the importance of giving young people a holiday when they could reconnect with peers and family.
Newmarket Primary School principal Dr Wendy Kofoed said she had heard from many parents who wanted their children to have a “real wellbeing holiday” in October.
“They’re looking forward to connecting with whānau and aunties and grandmothers and playing on their scooters in the street.”
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