Lockdown of school review after attacks

Police imposed a city-wide lockdown in Christchurch last Friday. Photo: AP
Police imposed a city-wide lockdown in Christchurch last Friday. Photo: AP
A Ministry of Education review of school lockdowns is being welcomed by Otago principals.

The review is in response to complaints from parents that police ordered schools not to let pupils leave their classrooms between 2.20pm and 6pm last Friday.

The lockdown largely went to plan, but some teachers were confronted by angry parents demanding their children be allowed to leave.

Radio New Zealand reported the ministry could not confirm if schools had a legal right to turn parents away, and principals said they had been told it was seeking legal advice on the matter.

Ministry of Education sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said children's safety and wellbeing were paramount and it was very important New Zealand schools were able to protect their children.

"When police imposed a city-wide lockdown in Christchurch last Friday, our schools, kura and early learning centres did the best job they could of keeping their children safe, in very challenging circumstances.

"Because this lockdown was for a significant period of time, covered a large area of a major city, affected a very large number of families, and occurred at a time of uncertainty about the nature of the events that were unfolding, it is even more important than usual that we undertake a review of all aspects of the lockdown."

Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gavin Kidd said the review was "prudent" because situations like the terror attack put schools in a very difficult situation.

"You're doing your best for your students, you've got them locked down, staff are there supervising, and the last thing you want is conflict with parents going on at the same time.

"A review is always prudent after an incident like this, to check processes and procedures are working well and fit for purpose."

Ms Casey said the review would be done in conjunction with police and principals' associations, and the views of parents would be sought as well.

"We expect the review will help inform appropriate advice to all schools and early learning centres."

The review would begin on April 2 and was expected to take at least two weeks to complete, Ms Casey said yesterday.

"We are also mindful that the term break will shortly occur and we need to ensure everyone who wants to have input, can do so."

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