Praise heaped on Papatoetoe High School principal for response to COVID-19

Praise is being heaped on the principal of Papatoetoe High School for his "model leadership" after the school found itself at the heart of Auckland's latest COVID-19 outbreak.

On Thursday both the Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield took time to personally thank Vaughan Couillault for his response.

"[Couillault] has been a model of leadership in his response to COVID-19 - that is very much appreciated," said Hipkins.

The school was thrust into the spotlight after two positive cases were found to have attended. As a result, the school is still on high alert for further cases and although Auckland as a whole has entered COVID-19 alert level 2, students and contacts of the school have been asked to stay in isolation until they have returned a negative test. 

Dr Bloomfield said that no one at Papatoetoe High School invited COVID-19 in, and the school's principal has been a pillar of support for his students.

"Principal Couillault provided his community with the reassurance they needed in a time of high and unexpected stress."

The school has undertaken a massive testing drive after a total of 31 close contacts and 1523 casual plus contacts were identified.

Of the close contacts, 30 have tested negative and one person has tested positive. Of the casual plus contacts, 1159 have returned negative results, there is one positive, and 363 are outstanding.

Students and staff will need to show a negative test to return to the school when it reopens on Monday.

Close contacts will need to continue self-isolating for the 14 days period and need to show a second negative test.

New Zealand's alert levels will be assessed by Cabinet on Monday to see if Auckland needs to change from alert level 2. The rest of the country is currently sitting at alert level 1.