College halts mass events


Ashburton College, with 1200 students and 150 staff, has suspended assemblies and events in its auditorium after Government announced new rules about mass gatherings in the fight against community spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19.

Student athletes have also been told they will not be going to national secondary school sports events like rowing’s Maadi Cup at Lake Ruataniwha, softball’s tournament at Nelson and basketball’s 3x3 tournament in Auckland.

Principal Ross Preece said it was disappointing for the students after months of training but the sporting competitions had been suspended following government advice against holding events that would bring more than 500 people together.

School Sport New Zealand will review the situation on April 6.

Mr Preece said the college would not be holding campus events that involved large numbers of students and staff in an enclosed space. That meant the cancellation of AshDance in the auditorium, involving 250 students, and house assemblies, which involved around 300 people.

The move was good practice and in line with Ministry of Education advice to avoid an outbreak of Covid-19, he said.

Staff have also been gauging the ability of students to work remotely, if required. "We have 32 families who do not have the internet."

Mr Preece and other Canterbury secondary school principals will meet on Friday for a hui devoted entirely to dealing with the disease. They would be guided by the ministry.

He said the school was taking practical, commonsense measures and encouraging handwashing. Students who were ill were being asked to stay at home.

It was important to keep the virus in perspective and not panic, he said.

"We have made sure soap is available in our toilets and put up signs to remind people about the importance of handwashing."

It was too early to make decisions on other international trips by students later in the year, he said.

Science students were due to head to Indonesia in July and the school’s First XI cricket team was planning a pre-season tour to Australia ahead of Term 4.


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