Coronavirus: Community rallies behind high school


The community is rallying to support Kaiapoi High School, following news of a “probable” coronavirus case at the school.

Principal Bruce Kearney, staff and pupils have been in self-isolation since being informed by Ministry of Health officials on Monday of a “probable case” of a pupil contracting coronavirus.

“It would be fair to say that that particular set of news has heightened people's anxiety, but our community has been incredibly supportive.”

Since being informed, Mr Kearney has been working and sleeping in his small study at home, but is hopeful he will get the all clear today (Wednesday, March 25).

“We have been in self-isolation, which means we can't have contact with our own families.”

While the case is been defined as “probable”, Mr Kearney says the school has “taken the stance of following the procedures laid down by the Ministry of Health as if it was a positive case” to protect the community.

When news first broke on Monday, the entire school, staff and pupils, went into self-isolation while the Ministry of Health completed a track and trace of those who had been in direct contact.

While the event has caused heightened anxiety in an already stressful time, Mr Kearney expects the majority of families will get the all clear by the end of today, meaning staff and pupils can go into “normal” isolation.

For the “handful of international students” at the school, the all clear will mean those who wish to will have the opportunity to return to their home country before the lockdown takes effect at midnight tonight.

“Our international director is working with them. They need to wait and get the all clear. Some of them want to return home, but others are happy to remain.

“They have made their decisions already and then we can action it once they get to the end of the day.”

In the meantime, the international students are being “looked after” by their homestays, “who are doing a fantastic job”, Mr Kearney says.