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17.8.2020

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has been working with Avondale College to identify close contacts of a student with COVID-19 at the school.

An ARPHS spokesperson says letters went out to the staff and students identified as close contacts of the student on Monday 17 August, informing them they are close contacts and will need to go into self-isolation and be tested.

The student was not symptomatic while at school, but has since become sick and tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

The whole school community has been sent a letter asking all students and staff who are not close contacts to watch out for symptoms and be tested if they get sick.

Principal Lyndy Watkinson says the school remains open to students who need to attend, particularly the children of essential workers.

“We have been able to identify the staff and students most at risk in the student’s classes and they have all been advised to stay at home in self-isolation for 14 days.

Public Health has assured staff and families in the school community that there is a low risk to the vast majority of the students and staff.

While there will be a great deal of concern amongst families and staff, the service encourages only people who have COVID-19 symptoms to be tested at this stage. They should ring Healthline: 0800 358 5453 to discuss testing.

The school will not be telling parents or staff the name of the student who is a case, their class or year level to protect the privacy of the student.

The principal is appealing to parents, students and staff not to speculate on the identity of the student or family involved, and not to name them on social media, as this can lead to on-line bullying and abuse.

Public Health is asking parents to remind students to practise safe hand, cough and sneeze hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. The advice is:

  • Maintain physical distancing of two metres outside your home, including on public transport.

  • It is highly recommended that you wear a mask if you are out and about.

  • Frequently and thoroughly wash (with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds) and dry hands.

  • Practice good cough and sneeze hygiene. That means coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a disposable tissue, then putting used tissues in the bin and washing their hands afterwards.

  • Carry disposable tissues in bags or pockets. Hand sanitiser is also a useful alternative option if soap and water is not readily available.

More information is available on the COVID-19 and Auckland Regional Public Health Service websites.

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