A teacher at Auckland’s Sacred Heart College has tested positive for Covid after teaching two classes while potentially infectious.
Only one student is considered a close contact of the teacher, however, because the other 30 students in his classes were already fully vaccinated, the school’s headmaster Stephen Dooley said.
The teacher was potentially infectious at school on Friday, November 5. He has had his first vaccine dose.
The student considered a close contact had also so far only had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Dooley said.
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service considers the other 30 fully vaccinated students to be casual-plus contacts.
The teacher initially returned a negative test, but a day-five test, reported back to the school late yesterday, was positive.
Dooley immediately followed Ministry of Health, ARPHS and the Auckland Director of Education advice by giving all parents the necessary information about to testing and home isolation, he said.
He also said the school’s high double vaccination rate gave health teams confidence to declare only one of the students a close contact.
Parents of students in the teacher’s class earlier complained to the Herald that students had asked the teacher to wear a mask while in class, but that he said he couldn’t because he had asthma.
Dooley said students and teachers have to wear masks inside at the school.
“However, during [my] investigations into the potential exposure among students and staff [I have] been told that the teacher, who is an asthmatic, intermittently removed his mask for medical reasons,” Dooley said.
He said Auckland public health staff had advised him “that this momentary mask removal is not a factor in identifying close contacts”.
“The ARPHS has confirmed that because the room was well ventilated, and that the school was adhering to all required safety guidelines and the high vaccination rates that there is no reason to consider the mask removal for a short period of time was a risk factor,” Dooley said.
There were 175 new Covid community cases in New Zealand today, including 159 in Auckland.
A teacher has tested positive to Covid at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, with one student considered a close contact. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
As infection numbers have grown, Covid has been detected at a number of schools and childcare centres, mostly in Auckland.
That included Auckland’s Mount Albert Grammar School where 130 students and staff required Covid testing after a student with the virus attended school last week.
However, principal Patrick Drumm said this week he wasn’t aware of any further cases, saying he hoped senior students could return to the school on Monday as the risk of transmission had been deemed low.
Ōtorohanga College in the small Waikato town south of Hamilton also had a student test positive after being at the school on November 8, leading to several staff and students going into self isolation.
Elsewhere, a teacher at Living & Learning Family Centre in Henderson in West Auckland tested positive for the virus late last month as did a child at Lancaster Learning Centre on the North Shore.
A teacher at Best Start Te Atatu this week also tested positive along with her child, leading to six staff and seven children going into isolation.