Pupil’s return to Dunedin school queried

Authorities are investigating how a high school pupil left locked-down Auckland and was allowed to stay a night at a Dunedin hostel, then turn up for class.

The Otago Boys’ High School pupil has since tested negative for Covid-19 and is isolating away from both the school and the boarding hostel, School House.

OBHS rector Richard Hall. Photo: ODT files
OBHS rector Richard Hall. Photo: ODT files
However, the situation caused alarm for staff, understood to be unsettled about the pupil showing up for first period on Monday.

The school has not explained how his hostel visit the previous day was allowed to happen.

Travel out of Auckland - then in Level 4 - is prohibited, except in rare cases, because authorities are trying to prevent the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 from spreading.

Police confirmed they were told on Monday a Dunedin pupil without a travel exemption had left Auckland and arrived in Dunedin last Friday.

School rector Richard Hall said he stayed with whanau for the weekend, then spent Sunday night at School House.

The school was alerted to a potential problem at 9am on Monday.

It organised a Covid-19 test for the pupil and agencies were looking into how he had been able to travel, Mr Hall said.

The pupil had been staying at home in Auckland during the lockdown, before his trip South.

‘‘He will not return to either the school or the hostel until we have confirmation from the Ministry of Health that it is safe for him to do so,’’ Mr Hall said.

The school had sought advice from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and police.

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack said the public health risk was considered low and appropriate precautions were being taken.

The Ministry of Health confirmed there had been no positive test results for Covid-19 in the South Island in the past week, but otherwise had no comment and referred the Otago Daily Times to police.

The school released a statement for parents yesterday morning.

Mr Hall said the pupil was not understood to have visited any Covid-19 places of interest in the Auckland or Waikato regions.

‘‘The advice of the Ministry of Health is that the school and hostel can run as we have been under the [Alert] Level 2 protocols.

‘‘Maintaining learning momentum is important this close to the end of term,’’ he said.

‘‘Please be assured that the health of our school community is very important to us and we will be following all protocols.’’

The ODT has sought further comment from the school.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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