Covid-19

Seven Auckland schools shut

Students of seven Auckland schools will be staying home today due to Covid-19 cases and precautions.

At the time of writing, there were 66 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, 24 of which were in Auckland.

That has since been updated to add 36 new cases today - bringing the total to 102. 

Glendowie College is closed until Thursday after a student tested positive for Covid-19. 

Students who are close contacts of the positive case will be identified by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and will be required to self-isolate.

Marist College for girls in Mt Albert, where a teacher has the virus, is closed, as is the next door Marist Primary as a precaution. It’s expected to reopen Thursday.  

Mount Roskill Grammar School where a parent has tested positive for Covid-19 is also closed, however, this is a scheduled closure. The parent, who returned from overseas March 12, attended a school event the same evening. 

A Randwick Park Intermediate School student is a “probable case” and the school will be shut for 72 hours.

Tests on a Pukekohe High School student and a Pukekohe Intermediate School student were both negative however, the schools will remain closed until Tuesday. The decision was made as a precaution to avoid difficulty communicating to parents over the weekend if tests were positive.

Other schools will be trying to juggle fewer teachers. The alert system announced on Saturday and set at level two recommends all people over 70 or with health condition which may make them vulnerable to Covid-19 to stay home. This is likely to affect some school teachers. Classes may be doubled, or relievers sought to cover the gaps. 

No social media warning from Ministry of Education

Another school in Auckland alerted parents Sunday evening a teacher, who is a close contact to a confirmed case, is now in precautionary self-isolation. The teacher does not have symptoms and the school is remaining open. 

In a letter from the Ministry of Education parents were told the risk was low.

"The latest evidence shows that, unlike influenza, there is a very low risk that a person is able to transmit the virus before they have symptoms." 

Parents were also told to not to share the situation on social media. 

“Please do not post any information at all social media [sic] as this could lead to online abuse. Netsafe provides guidance on online behaviour.”

Previous Covid-19 patients have been subjected to online bullying.

School risk levels

At present the Government’s stance is that shutting schools down isn’t necessary as there is not widespread community transmission here.

There’s concern preemptively shutting schools could mean grandparents, who are vulnerable due to their age, would end up caring for children. 

The Ministry of Education guideline for closing schools has five risk levels. 

Level 1: When a student or staff member has no symptoms but close contact with a confirmed case and there is no community transmission. The person self isolates and if they test positive, close contacts are tracked and traced.

Level 2: When a student or staff member has symptoms and close contact with a confirmed case or tests positive - close school temporarily or for at least 72 hours.

Level 3: When there are cases from multiple families in the same school which are possibly community transmission - 14-day closure.

Level 4: When there is confirmed community transmission but contained to a geographical area - close all schools and centres in the area for 14 days.

Level 5: Community transmission on a national level - close all schools and centres for at least 14 days, and review the decision every 14 days.

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