Staff members offer protection to students

Teachers at two Wellington schools are doing double-duty as teachers and security escorts.

Along with security guards, the teachers are helping students from St Mary’s College Wellington and Sacred Heart Cathedral School, walk to and from public transport hubs.

The move comes as protests at Parliament spill over into the streets and students are being harassed for wearing masks.

The schools have confirmed the Ministry of Education has also helped them with the security.

St Mary’s principal Andrew Murray said the security was there to ‘front foot’ any conflict that might occur.

“I’d rather just be proactive and keep our girls safe,” Murray said.

In an update on the school’s website, Murray said he met with the Ministry of Education and Police to discuss concerns raised by families and members of the school’s community.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with the Ministry and Police to assess the current protest situation and the impact this is having on students,  staff safety and wellbeing,” he said.

He said the school had been advised:

  • There will be an increase in visible Police patrols around the school and train station, especially when students are travelling to and from school, to ensure their safety and that of the staff.
  • Māori wardens are based around the station to minimise any disruptive or anti-social behaviour.
  • Police have established night patrols that include monitoring school grounds to ensure no unwelcome guests.
  • Students have been advised to avoid nearby Molesworth Street and passing by or entering Parliament grounds because of safety concerns.

Sacred Heart Cathedral School, the primary school adjacent to St Mary’s, has also had to make special arrangements to keep the children safe.

Its principal Bernadette Murfitt​ is walking 50 to 60 younger school students up and down to the train station each day, taking routes that avoided the protest completely.

“Our students – those who are coming up from buses and trains are coming up with myself and staff members – and a parent roster is helping me in the afternoon,” Murfitt says.

“The children are a real resilient bunch”.

Murfitt says the school community is doing its best and ensuring the students are safe was taking a lot of time.

“We need our freedom back as well. I want to get back to what I love, leading the learning”.

Sacred Heart’s principal agrees. “We just want to get back to normal,” he said.


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