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Two Wairarapa schools temporarily close as Covid-19 cases grow

St Patrick's School in Masterton has temporarily closed following 10 Covid-19 cases.

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St Patrick’s School in Masterton has temporarily closed following 10 Covid-19 cases.

Two Wairarapa schools have closed with hundreds of self-isolating students, as the numbers of positive Covid-19 cases grow in schools across the lower North Island.

St Patrick’s School in Masterton and Martinborough School have both closed following cases, the school principals confirmed.

St Patrick’s School principal Steve Wheeler said 10 positive Covid-19 cases had been identified – one identified on Friday and a further nine over the weekend.

“That person had been infectious at school on February 8 which was when we first went back for the school year,” Wheeler said.

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They had directed all 220 students and more than 25 staff at the primary school to isolate and get tested as “close contacts”, following advice from both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.

The earliest the school might reopen is on February 22, Wheeler said.

The school would move to remote learning in a few days, once results for teachers came back, something the school was relatively used to doing from lockdown.

Twelve positive Covid-19 cases in Wairarapa was confirmed by the Ministry of Health on Monday.

Martinborough School principal Craig Nelson said the school was notified on Friday that a staff member tested positive, prompting them to send its 260 students and 20 or so staff home early.

He said the school would remain closed for a week as a “precautionary response”.

Nelson said he could not yet confirm if any other cases had been identified.

Some people had struggled to get tested over the weekend due to wet weather and flooding leading some testing centers to close and making roads impassable.

Nelson said the community had responded positively, and he thanked the school community for their response on Friday. “They’ve been fantastic.”

Teachers would be in touch with families about home learning options, for some that would look more like “playing and learning on the farm”.

Covid-19 cases in schools in Wellington and surrounding cities has grown, with a confirmed case identified at Onslow College in Wellington.

A letter from principal Sheena Millar, published on the school’s website, advised the person was identified as infectious and at school on Tuesday, February 8 and Wednesday, February 9.

“If you or your student is identified as a contact, you will be contacted directly and provided with specific instructions from the Ministry of Health,” it reads.

“Onslow College remains open and unless you are contacted, your student can still come to school.”

Students and their whānau should watch for symptoms, and if any develop, get tested immediately, and stay at home until they receive the result.

Other schools in Porriua, Lower and Upper Hutt have also been affected by Covid-19 cases last week, including Mana College, Petone Central School and St Patrick’s Silverstream.

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