Principal believes 'super-spreader event' may have taken place
Rangiora High School was forced to suspend work and classes on its second day of school after nearly 40 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports.
The New Zealand Herald reported on Sunday an announcement from the school that 39 employees, including teachers and support staff, have contracted COVID-19 over the past days.
Bruce Kearney, school principal, said the cases likely stem from a teacher-only day that it recently held.
"It seems like we had a bit of a super-spreader event," Kearney told the New Zealand Herald.
Unavailable teaching staff
The principal, however, told the outlet that COVID-19 wasn't the reason they shut the school on Monday, but because almost a third of its 120-strong teaching staff were unavailable.
According to Kearney, it was "quite difficult" to put relief teachers to classes where they haven't even started their work.
The school just started its first day of classes on Friday, February 2, so Kearney said they were "really disappointed" over the recent turn of events.
"We were excited about starting the year and on day two we're having to close," he said.
In a statement to the school community, the principal also said the decision was "not taken lightly."
"This is not our usual practice. We hope Tuesday's public holiday allows us to rest," he said as quoted by 1News.
Classes and work are expected to resume on Wednesday, as the school remained close on Tuesday for Waitangi Day.
COVID-19 in New Zealand
There have been 5,757 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand over the past week, including 3,609 reinfections, according to the Ministry of Health.
Current government protocol states that those who test positive for the illness are urged to isolate for at least five days, even if they're only exhibiting mild symptoms.
Isolation should begin on Day 0, the day when symptoms started or when an individual tested positive, whichever came first.
"You should not go to work or school, and should discuss any return to work or school with your employer or child's school principal, as they may require additional precautions," the government advised.