Kaikoura schools re-opening following quake

Education Minister Hekia Parata meets with Kaikoura Primary School principal Nigel Easson, left, and Kaikoura Mayor ...
EMMA DANGERFIELD/FAIRFAX NZ

Education Minister Hekia Parata meets with Kaikoura Primary School principal Nigel Easson, left, and Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray, right.

Kaikoura schools are beginning to open for the first time since the earthquake.

St Joseph School opened its gates from 10am to 1pm on Tuesday, while Kaikoura High School would open on Wednesday.

Some seniors who have finished exams still planned to come in to show support for the school. 

Early childhood centres were also starting to open for play hours before considering returning to normal hours next week.  

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Education Minister Hekia Parata spent time visiting with schools and pre-schools in the quake-damaged town on Tuesday morning, and wanted to assure parents the schools had been checked and were safe for children to return to. 

"The water's back on, the sewerage is back on, electricity and also data communication is connected and operating."

Parata said it was important children were able to resume their routine and be with other kids, giving parents "a little respite" as well. 

She was aware some families had evacuated, but thought between 60 and 70 per cent of students were still in the area.

Parata said she was pleased to see a full team of local contractors working at Kaikoura High to remove unsafe cladding from the buildings, and that the two new buildings at Kaikoura Primary school had "stood up completely to the quakes".

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Kaikoura Primary School principal Nigel Easson said it was "absolutely brilliant" Parata had visited the school and had a "nice, low-key conversation" with staff.

Easson said the ministry had worked extremely hard to provide everything the Kaikoura schools needed.

Kaikoura Primary School would have an open day on Wednesday from 9am, allowing parents to visit with their children to ask questions, raise concerns, and see how the school would operate post-quake. The school would return to normal operation at 9am on Thursday. 

Easson said the school had been making sure staff were "safe and ready to get into the classrooms".

Staff would keep a "real close eye" on children in class, and were prepared for possible changes in behaviour post-quake.

Staff would keep in touchwith parents, especially during school pick-up time.

"It's always a good chance to have a bit of a chat and share how their child's going within settling back into school life, back into the school system."

Easson said schools the length of the country, and especially those in Christchurch, had provided great support.

"We're just inundated with phone calls of support and how can we help, so it's the education community pulling together which is truly outstanding."

He expected to call on the experience of Christchurch schools for support and guidance in the future.

Kaikoura High School deputy principal Gayle Cameron said some seniors planned to volunteer their time to help around the school, despite having finished exams. 

The school aimed to operate "as close to normal as possible", and intended to still hold a prizegiving and leaver's dinner next week. 

Cameron said the school was a small community school and one of its core values was supporting one another.

"I think that's probably one of our major strengths is that we're like a small family really, and everyone looks after each other."

Kaikoura area schools opening hours:

- St Joseph's School open Tuesday from 10am to 1pm.

- Suburban Primary School is open Wednesday 12pm to 2pm, then 9am to 12.30pm Thursday and Friday.

- Kaikoura Primary School is open 9am to 12.30pm Thursday and Friday. Whanau meeting/open day on Wednesday at 9am.

- Kaikoura High School is open 10am to 2pm for the rest of the school year.

Hours may change in the future. 

 - Stuff

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