Corona virus: 14 day stand-down for students

Students and teachers who have recently been in China where the Coronavirus has claimed more than 100 lives will not be allowed at school for two weeks.

Some local schools have confirmed they will be enacting strict stand-down periods in line with Ministry of Education advice this week.

The virus that causes respiratory difficulties originated in Wuhan China.

Macleans principal Steven Hargreaves said in an update on the school’s website that they are monitoring the situation regarding coronavirus and responding as more information is provided to the.

“The incubation period is currently considered to be 14 days,” said Hargreaves.

“All students arriving from China are requested to remain off school for two weeks following their date of arrival into New Zealand.  This is as per Ministry of Education advice issued yesterday (January 27).”

The school will remain open as normal for all other students.

“Any student who is unwell must not attend school and should seek medical advice through the normal channels,” Hargreaves said.

“Students and families are encouraged to follow the basic principles to reduce the risk of infection, such as washing hands frequently and covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.

“We are continuing to monitor advice from government agencies and will issue further updates as necessary.”

Pakuranga College principal Mike Williams said the school has taken several steps to address the issue.

“All students and teachers who have recently returned from China have been instructed to stay home for an incubation period of two weeks,” he said.

“International agents in China have been contacted and anyone coming from there needs to have a health check before they leave for NZ, plus they must also stay in their accommodation for two weeks once they arrive, before starting school.”

Signs have been erected in Pakuranga College reception in both English and Mandarin asking people who have recently returned from China not to enter, but to contact the school via email or phone.

Saint Kentigern College has responded in a similar fashion.

“Families at each of our schools have been contacted prior to the start of term with general advice,” the school told the Times.

“We have requested that any student or staff member who may be at high risk of exposure because they have recently been to China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, delay the start of their school year for 14 days.

“We also requested travel details from all students and staff who have travelled overseas in the last 14 days so we can assess any possible risk.”

Howick College is closely monitoring information provided by the Ministry of Health.

“The Ministry of Health currently advises that there are no cases of the virus in New Zealand and that the risk of an outbreak in New Zealand is low. They advise that there is no specific action to be taken at this time. Having said that, we have decided to impose a two-week quarantine period for every student who returns from the affected regions and will closely monitor the situation,” Howick College said.

We are following the Ministry of Health’s advice and will be open as per the calendar sent to parents earlier. Year 9 students and other students new to the school, start on Monday 3 February. All other students begin on Tuesday 4 February.”

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown is requesting an urgent meeting with the Counties Manukau District Health Board to discuss the Health Boards’ preparations regarding the virus.

“This is a pressing issue both to me and many in my community in the Pakuranga Electorate. With hundreds of international students due to arrive in schools in my electorate of Pakuranga and other schools in the Counties Manukau DHB area over coming weeks, this is of significant concern to my community and I want an understanding of the preparations being made by the Counties Manukau DHB,” said Brown.

“There needs to be serious precautionary measures taken and these measures need to be communicated to the public to ensure people’s safety.

“Action is also needed to ensure that schools and those providing student accommodation are given the right advice and support. There needs to be clear information and procedures around international students, their host families and quarantine processes.