Rangiora High reopens after Covid outbreak

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied
A North Canterbury high school has reopened after many of its teachers contracted Covid-19 following a teacher-only day.

Principal Bruce Kearney confirmed his high school would return to normal hours on Wednesday....
Principal Bruce Kearney confirmed his high school would return to normal hours on Wednesday. Photo: David Hill / File image
Rangiora High School, 30 minutes north of Christchurch, took to its Facebook page on Sunday morning to announce the closure of the school on Monday.

The school closed on Monday after 39 staff, most of them teachers, were believed to have contracted the virus after a teacher-only day last week.

Principal Bruce Kearney confirmed the high school would return to normal hours today.

“We have 24 away, so we’ve dropped down quite substantially and it’s within our ability to keep open,” Kearney told the Herald this morning.

“So some of them are away for family reasons or whatever the hell it is, we don’t ask them if it’s Covid or not.”

Kearney said he was “unable” to confirm how many students would be away with the virus.

“To be fair I’m not expecting a lot — in North Canterbury, we just get on with it.”

He said parents’ reactions to Monday’s closure were “overwhelmingly supportive”.

“We’ve had a couple of emails that were more anti-Covid than they were anti-closing, but overwhelmingly supportive.”

Kearney had earlier told the Herald the closure was not regarding Covid-19, but that almost a third of his 120-strong teaching staff were unavailable.

“We just can’t put bodies in front of kids and we really don’t want to be doing that on day two of high school.”

“It’s quite difficult to put relief teachers into classes where they haven’t even started their work.”

He said he was “pretty sure” the outbreak stemmed from the school’s teacher-only day.

“It seems like we had a bit of a super-spreader event,” he told NZME on Monday.

Throughout 2022, Rangiora High School remained open while other schools nationwide were forced to shut their doors.

“Our philosophy is to remain open during Covid to make sure that the kids have a chance to go to school,” Kearney said.

“The rule is if you’re unwell for whatever reason, stay at home until you feel better, and so all we get is phone calls from kids that are sick. They could be sick for anything.”

He earlier said the school would be in the same situation if there had been an outbreak of gastroenteritis within its staff.

The school has about 1750 students enrolled, according to Kearney.

By Pierre Nixon