Coronavirus Covid 19: Students rally to get tested after new community case emerges

As hundreds of students waited for a test at Papatoetoe High School this afternoon, their music teachers put on an impromptu concert to keep them entertained.

Teachers that had already had their test taken stayed behind, dishing out hand sanitiser and water to those in the queue.

By the time the school testing centre closed, close to 700 people had been tested.

Principal Vaughan Couillault said that is almost half of the roughly 1400 students and 150 staff and students that have been asked to get a test after it was announced earlier today that another student had tested positive for Covid-19.

Since then, another two of the case’s household contacts have also tested positive.

The schoolgirl was identified as a casual plus contact of the first student at Papatoetoe High who tested positive who was linked to the Valentine’s Day outbreak but had not returned to the school and had been isolating at home.

Couillault said the students that stayed after the bell rang for a swab said they wanted to “stick it out and get the job done”.

“It’s epic. Students at 3.15pm were able to leave if they needed to or wanted too, but a whole lot of kids stayed in the queue,” he said.

“The music teachers put on a music concert for the students. It was a really cool vibe.”
Asked if he was proud of the students, he said he had the best job in the world.

“There was a real sense of community, and yes a little bit of anxiety, but [also] quiet confidence that we will get through it, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”‘

Staff and students and the people they live have been told to stay at home and isolate until that staff member or student returns a negative test.

Once that person returns a negative test, the unit can then return to normal daily life.
Couillault said this would mean parents are today staying home from work and siblings that go to other schools also kept away from the classroom.

“I would suggest that for many families, that’s incredibly burdensome and that they are doing it tough,” he said.

There are 1400 students at the school which equates to around 800-900 families.
“Most of our families have a number of people living in their household.”

He urged those families who needed help to ask for it, saying there were support networks in place.

“One of the things about our community is putting your hand up when you need financial support is not an easy thing to do, sometimes that can come with a bit of damage to someone’s mana but we want to make sure that our community knows, if you need a hand yell out, we will help you, we will do it discretely. We’re here to support.”

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