Coronavirus: Auckland school's focus on supporting community after student tests positive

The principal of an Auckland school which has closed after a student tested positive for COVID-19 says his focus is fully on supporting the local community.

But there has been frustration amongst some families about the time it took to be notified.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) confirmed on Wednesday night that a student from Chapel Downs Primary School in the southern Auckland suburb of Flat Bush has contracted COVID-19.

"The child was dropped off before school on Monday 14 September but picked up 30 minutes later at 9am. The parents later received a positive test result for the child. This case has been previously reported by the Ministry of Health."

As a result of the positive result, the school will close until next Monday "at the earliest" to allow it to be deep cleaned and for close contacts to be identified.

Principal Vaughan van Rensburg told Newshub that the school's focus was entirely on supporting those affected and the wider community. 

"We have had the information confirmed at 2pm [on Wednesday] and we are just working through it with the community and supporting the community and obviously, supporting the whanau that are involved in the case," he said.

"We know we have got a fantastic, supportive community and they have been with us the whole way during the COVID journeys and we know we can expect the children back and we will support anyone involved in the case and really look after each other."

The principal said the school had stringent health protocols in place.

"We have just been upping our hygiene practises throughout the school. Hand sanitisers before anyone enters any room. No parents in the classrooms. We have been following the Ministry of Health guidelines around hygiene procedures and we have also been keeping to small bubbles across the school to limit any spread."

News of the positive case and the school's closure was shared on Chapel Downs Primary's Facebook page. Parents and relatives of other students at the school wished the impacted family well.

"What a scary time this must be for the child and their family. I hope they all recover and are well at the end of it," one said.

"Prayers for the poor child and family. Also prayers for our children and teachers from chapel downs primary school that may be affected by this," said another.

But some also said they were frustrated they were only now being notified about the case, when the student tested positive on Monday.

"I wish they would have notified the school sooner than today if the MOH knew about the positive test on Monday," one person said.

"I can appreciate the concern this creates for the families of all the other children at school. To be on the safe side, my family and I will be getting tested tomorrow morning and isolating until we get our results."

Another said: "At least I know the reason now. Received a text about school closure with less info and got me frustrated because of work commitments".

The ARPHS has asked people not to speculate about the identity of the family or the child. 

"If you know the identity of the student or family with COVID-19, please do not disclose their names or details to anyone else, and discourage your children from speculating or identifying them on social media. This can lead to online bullying and abuse."

The student and their family are currently in isolation.