5 Feb 2024

Covid-19 closes school with 40 staff down

From Checkpoint, 5:42 pm on 5 February 2024

Covid-19 closed a Canterbury school today with almost 40 staff down with the virus.

Rangiora High School told parents yesterday that it didn't have enough staff to cover classes, just two days into the new school year.

Rangiora High School principal Bruce Kearney told Checkpoint that Covid was not even on his mind to start off the year.

"We have been through this before, so it wasn't like we were running around like headless chickens. But we'd already always tried to make sure that we stayed open, that was our core philosophy.

"I've just felt more and more sad as the day progressed."

He guessed that a teacher-only day might have been a super spreader event.

Kearney said there were 400 Year 9 students who were looking forward to their first day of high school.

"They're probably a little anxious and then we have this and you can't get these days back. We just have to push forward and it's short term. We'll get through it, we have before. It's just a little sad."

He could not say if any students had caught the virus, but said it was possible that some would have.

"We're going to focus first and foremost on getting kids back in the classrooms ... just getting their teaching and learning.

"But my personal opinion is you've got to get on with it. We may be gentle this week, but then as far as I'm concerned, we're into it next week."

Rangiora High School

Rangiora High School Photo: Google Maps

Kearney was not aware of any other schools in the area facing the same situation.

He said the school would reopen on Wednesday.

"It may mean that our teachers have to cover additional classes, it may mean that some of our teachers [or students] want to wear masks. We'll go about it in a kind way."

Rangiora High does not need staff to have a Covid negative test before returning to work, he said.