Iona Holsted – Secretary for Education: COVID-19 update

As you will know the Ministry of Health’s Director-General announced the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in New Zealand.  

The parent of two students – one at Westlake Boys High and one at Westlake Girls High – has been confirmed with coronavirus (COVID-19). While this is concerning for everyone, there is no risk to students, staff or others at the schools.

We want to reassure you that we will continue to update you with the latest information.

Some people have been asking when a school might close. The answer is that we are a very long way from that situation. At this stage, there is no reason that children should not be going to school. Our Directors of Education will be discussing some key notification and planning protocols with the local medical officers of Health over the next day or so – we will be working very closely together as the situation evolves.  Today in Auckland was a very good example of the speed with which we can mobilise to support you if and when it may be needed.

A decision to close a school if that became necessary would be made by the local medical Officers of Health.

As for the current situation in Auckland – there is no risk to students or staff in either of the schools.  The two students have not been infectious while they have been at school, and are not considered infectious now.

The letter that both schools sent to their parents explains this, you can read a copy here: Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

In the meantime, we can provide you some further facts from the World Health Organization.Evidence from China shows that only 1% of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within 2 days.Young people 18 years and under represent less than 2.4 per cent of those who have contracted the virus.From the data we have so far, COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza.It continues to remain that the best thing to do is to practice good preventative measures, particularly good hygiene:

  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or with an elbow
  • Putting used tissues in the bin
  • Encouraging staff and students to stay home if they are unwell

Iona Holsted – Secretary for Education