Back to school for New Zealand kids after COVID-19 lockdown

WELLINGTON: Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children returned to school on Monday (May 18) after two months of home education as part of a COVID-19 lockdown.

Excited youngsters greeted classmates for the first time in eight weeks, while teachers reinforced messages about social distancing and hand-washing to combat the coronavirus.

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Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the return to a noisy, bustling environment would be a "culture shock" after a challenging period for both children and parents.

"Our message is it's safe to send kids back to school, we want kids back at school and catching up with any learning that they've lost during the lockdown," he told reporters.

New Zealand, with a population of five million, has recorded 1,149 coronavirus cases and just 21 deaths, with its success largely attributed to a strict lockdown imposed in late March.

Most domestic lockdown restrictions ended last Thursday but schools were given extra time because of the difficulty in implementing health protocols among the very young.

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READ: New Zealand's Ardern turned away from cafe under COVID-19 social distancing rules

Instead of escorting their children to class, parents dropped them at "kiss and go" zones, while early childhood centres recorded personal details needed for contact tracing.

There were mixed feelings about the return to lessons among some, with Wellington sisters Charlotte and LucyRead More – Source