COVID-19: Papatoetoe High School principal defends community case who breached rules to work at KFC

Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault says it may have been a subject of miscommunication.
Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault says it may have been a subject of miscommunication. Photo credit: Newshub / Papatoetoe High School

The principal of Papatoetoe High School has defended the recent COVID-19 community case who went to work, despite orders to stay at home.

The Ministry of Health reported one new community case on Friday, a KFC worker who was linked to the existing Papatoetoe High School cases.

The new case broke the Government's advice to stay at home and self-isolate, by working at KFC Botany Downs earlier this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday said there's no doubt she was "frustrated" and called for people who were advised to self-isolate to do the right thing.

But Vaughan Couillault, Papatoetoe High School principal, says he understands the Prime Minister's frustration but it may have been a subject of miscommunication.

"Now I understand the Prime Minister's expression of frustration that people either didn't hear about it or didn't follow some of the advice or guidance. 

"But they still didn't catch anything on purpose and had they known they had it, I'm sure they would have behaved in an entirely different way."

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Newshub they work to ensure information is provided "in a form that is readily understandable".

"The Auckland Regional Public Health Service works closely, in conjunction with the Ministry’s contact tracing service and Healthline to ensure that families are contacted promptly and that information is provided in a form that is readily understandable. 

"Unfortunately there is always the risk of the message being received being slightly different from the one given and all agencies involved continue to work to minimise that happening."

"Like everyone, I was frustrated," Ardern said in a press conference on Friday.

"But at the same time, one of the things we need is an environment where people can feel like even if they've made the wrong choice, even if they've gotten tested later than they should've, they still do what we need them to do."

Couillault says we shouldn't judge others unless we've walked in their shoes.

"You don't know their story, you don't know what it's like to be a person unless you've walked in their shoes.

"We don't know whether the teenagers have to go to work because they're the only income-earners in the family, we don't know if there's any other truma that the family's experience - we don't know any of that stuff. 

"So we need to pull back from those positions of judgement and be far more understanding and supportive."