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International Journal of Educational Development ; 98:2181/04/11 00:00:00.000, 2023.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-2229816


In this article, we draw on qualitative data from the experiences of five schools during the Covid-19 crisis in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where the word 'safety' has become paramount in educational debates (Sullivan, 2014). The study explores the educational and political tensions created by concerns about safety at schools in these unprecedented times. Our methods for data collection included semi-structured interviews with nine teachers and principals, five focus groups with thirty senior students (16–18 years old), analysis of school public documents, and observational field notes of school settings. Our data shows that an ill-defined idea of safety entered into direct tension with the students' rights to schooling and citizenship. In the focus groups, participants pointed to the tensions between educators' good intentions —creating safer environments—and the imposed restrictions on students to express doubts, voice needs, and make their own decisions in the schools, resulting in fewer learning opportunities to understand a complex social world.