Queenstown mum pulling kids out of school next year over Covid fears

A Queenstown mother is pulling her kids out of school next year.

Nichola Wells says she’s concerned the public school system is unable to provide “adequate and consistent” education in a Covid climate.

Wells has been contemplating homeschooling her children, four of whom are under 12, since last year’s lockdown.

“I saw how far we got, especially with my second oldest, he just took off.

“He was way behind, still didn’t know all of his numbers and letters and phonics and things like that.

“Then after that first lockdown, he went to school reading and writing and he was basically where he should’ve been.

“We’ve seen how [lockdown] impacts our children’s learning and their sense of belonging and security … I just feel like we might find gaps where children have slipped through during the last few years.”

The prospect of domestic and international borders opening up is also a concern.

“[Children] aren’t able to be vaccinated for a start and, as we’ve seen overseas, schools are super-spreaders,” Wells says.

Govt expects application for kids' vax soon

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently approved a Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in children aged 5-11.

A Ministry of Health spokesman says in New Zealand, clinical and technical experts are playing “close attention” to the international evidence on vaccinations for children in that age group.

For the vaccine to be approved for use in those children, Pfizer needs to submit an application to Medsafe, which needs to provisionally approve it.

Following that, further advice will be sought from the Covid-19 Vaccine Technical Advisory Group before landing with Cabinet for a “decision to use”.

At a press conference last week, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said they were expecting Pfizer to make an application to Medsafe “in the next couple of weeks”.

“It will be offered if it gets through these approval processes — or if and when — in 2022,” Bloomfield said.

Several parents contacted Wells with similar concerns after she posted on social media looking for a teacher/tutor to help her with homeschooling.

“On the first day, I received like, 20-odd messages from parents … I’ve had nothing but support.”

Wells will be legally responsible for providing, supervising and monitoring her children’s education, but she intends to hire a qualified teacher as a resource.

“[The teacher] outlines the curriculum and their individual learning plan and then will tutor my children one or two days a week.”

When asked if she was likely to return her children to school, Wells says “it depends … on how society goes, as a whole”.

“If we have some sense of normality back, where we’re not dealing with all these lockdowns and uncertainty and the consistency of their education, then I believe I would be more inclined to send them back to school.

“I’m just trying to prepare the best that I can to make sure my children get through these next couple of years.”

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