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Source: New Zealand Government

The Government has opened an urgent response fund to support schools and early learning services to get children and young people back on track after the Covid-19 lockdown.

“While we are seeing improvements in attendance under Alert Level 1 Ministry of Education data shows that attendance rates in our schools sits at about 85% and 50% in our early childhood education centres, and it is much lower in some schools and early learning services,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“We have to do better.”

Schools will be able to get additional resources such as more teacher-aide hours to work with students at risk, funding for home-visits including for people with a history of poor attendance, and social workers to work with refugee families as part of the $52m Urgent Response Fund (URF).

“During COVID stress levels among families and students have increased. In some cases the links families have with schools have been put under extra pressure, and we need to make sure students are connected to their learning.”

The URF is for centre-based early learning services and schools.

“A further $16m will go to workplace assistance and counselling support services for the education workforce and their families. This will benefit 10,000 additional teachers and other school staff by 2022.

“Teachers, principals, support staff and centre leaders have done a great job during the pandemic and they’ll continue to play a vital in the recovery.”

This $66 million package is in addition to the $32.8 million for new frontline specialists to support the teaching of mental health and healthy relationships to promote the wellbeing of children and young people.

“These initiatives are part of a comprehensive wellbeing support package for the entire education sector as we rebuild, recognising the varied and complex needs of children and education staff,” Chris Hipkins said.