Welfare concerns at school


by Alexia Johnston

Concerns caused by visitors wanting internet access may result in Twizel’s free public Wi-Fi point shifted from the library at Twizel Area School.

Visitors to the town have been smoking on school grounds, hanging laundry in view of the main entrance and unplugging library equipment to charge their devices.

Teachers were avoiding taking children to the library at times, due to overcrowding and welfare concerns, and were having to ask visitors to stub out their cigarettes and take their washing down.

Principal Bill Feasey said a range of issues caused by the location of the public Wi-Fi had built up over the past five years since its installation, to the point staff were now stepping in.

Public Wi-Fi access is available at the town’s combined community and school library, based within the school, while the school has its own Wi-Fi connection.

usually a busy time for the likes of backpackers and free and independent travellers to visit the school.

“You might have two to three people outside the entrance. They might even pull up chairs.”

At other times there could be up to 20 people in and around the library, accessing the Wi-Fi.

Mr Feasey said when the travellers were asked to stop smoking or to take their washing down, their responses varied.

“The odd one or two are a bit rude or baffled .. and then some just kind of move on when it’s explained.”

The school’s board of trustees told the Twizel Community Board a growing number of unknown people were congregating within the school and around its main entrance, which had created security and welfare concerns.

It has asked the community board to move the public Wi-Fi access point to the town’s marketplace, near cafes and shops where visitors to the area would naturally go.

Mr Feasey was confident that would happen.

The issue was discussed at this week’s community board meeting, and board member Luke Paardekooper said options on how that could work were being investigated.

“[An expert in that field is] exploring how we can make that work and make sure there’s an adequate Wi-Fi facility as well; and make sure all the shop owners are happy .. in the marketplace,” he said.

“I think it’s certainly going to help that issue.”

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