All Te Puna School students could now “potentially be at risk” of Covid-19 after public health advice for the school changed.

This comes as another Tauranga school has confirmed a positive Covid-19 case. Five schools have now reported positive cases in their school communities – Te Puna School, Mount Maunganui Intermediate School, Aquinas College, Tahatai Coast School and Tauranga Intermediate.

It also comes as the Ministry of Health yesterday reported nine new Covid-19 cases in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region, all of which were in the Tauranga area.

Six of the new Tauranga cases were known close contacts and were already in isolation.

Interviews with the remaining cases were under way to determine the source of their infection, a Ministry of Health media statement said.

A case announced on Wednesday in the Eastern Bay of Plenty was self-isolating and being supported by Tūhoe Hauora.

After the detection of this case, additional testing was available in the area.

“The spread of Covid-19 in the Bay of Plenty is another reminder to get tested if you’re feeling unwell and to get your first dose of the vaccine if you haven’t already,” the statement said.

At Te Puna School, initial interviews with the positive cases indicated only students in the same class needed to isolate, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.

“However, a further assessment of the school situation indicated all students could potentially be at risk, therefore the local public health unit’s advice changed.

“Students in the same class as the cases need to isolate for 10 days. Other students should isolate until they receive a negative swab result.”

There are 270 students at the primary school, according to the Education Review Office.

A Te Puna School parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the initial information they got from the school said “maybe six or seven classes” all had to isolate and the rest of the school had to watch for symptoms.

“Last night we got information that only room three and the Māori class needed to isolate and everybody else just watch for symptoms but maybe something’s changed.”

The Bay of Plenty Times reported on Wednesday that Te Puna School students in rooms one, two, three, four, eight, nine and 10 were identified as close contacts and needed to get tested immediately and self-isolate at home. This came from an email sent to parents on Tuesday.

Children in rooms five, six, seven, 11, 12 and 13 were identified as casual contacts and were required to self-monitor for symptoms, the email said.

Te Puna School principal Neil Towersey was approached for comment.

Yesterday, Tauranga Intermediate School confirmed a student had tested positive but was deemed “very low-risk” and it was “business as usual”.

Principal Cameron Mitchell said the Ministry of Health called him yesterday morning saying a student had tested positive.

Only one house – 10 per cent of the school – was deemed a “very low-risk”, he said.

The school was made up of 10 houses and 43 classrooms. The affected house had four classrooms, Mitchell said.

“It’s very much a precautionary measure that one house is self-isolating at home and being tested,” Mitchell said.

Close contacts of the student were self-isolating at home and getting tested.

The length of that process depended on the vaccination status of the contacts, he said.

Vaccinated students could go back to school next Wednesday provided they had returned two negative Covid tests.

Unvaccinated students could go back to school the following Monday, he said.

The rest of the school could “absolutely” continue going to school.

Mitchell said there were excellent structures and support in place from the Ministries of Health and Education.

“It’s about following due process and keeping staff and students safe.

“As a result, it would be that it’s business as usual for the remainder of the school as they are not close contacts and it’s a safe environment due to the procedures we have in place.”

Locations of interest

– Gate Pa New World on Sunday November 21 between 6.30pm and 8pm
– Z 15th Ave Petrol Station Tauranga on Fifteenth Avenue, Tauranga on Saturday November 20 between 9.55am and 11.15am
– Flaveur Breads, Tauranga on Friday November 19 between 1.25pm and 1.50pm
– Chadwick Bakery and Cafe, Greerton on Friday November 19 between 2.05pm and 3.20pm
– Mr Whippy, Tauranga on Saturday November 20 between 2.05pm and 3.20pm
– Cambridge Heights Foodmarket, Bethlehem Saturday November 20 between 3.45pm and 5pm
– Peter Pans Superette, Tauranga on Tuesday November 23 between 2.55pm and 4.40pm

New times are:
Unichem Greerton on Friday November 19 between 8.30am to 10.30am.

Self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days after you were exposed at these locations of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result and until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

Tauranga and Mount Maunganui testing centres

Tauranga:

• Mount Maunganui Sports Centre (corner of Maunganui & Hull Rds) – 10am-4pm Tuesday
• Tauranga Racecourse – 10am–4pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
• Tauranga Central (100 First Avenue drive-through accessed via carpark next to Noel Leeming on Second Ave) – 8am–4pm Tuesday to Friday
• Baypark (81 Truman Lane, Mount Maunganui) 11am-6pm Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Whakatāne District:

• Med Central Portacom, 52B King St, Whakatāne – 10am–4pm, Tuesday–Friday

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