Covid 19 coronavirus: Papatoetoe High School families advised to go elsewhere or wait two hours

The queue for Covid testing at Papatoetoe High School has got so long that some families are being advised to go to other testing stations or come back tomorrow.

School principal Vaughan Couillault said the queue for families waiting in cars is now “a couple of hours long”.

The school notified families walking in for testing at 11am that “the waiting time for walk-up students is 45 minutes and there is no shelter for the walk-ups [shelters are on their way to site]”.

“Please try drive in or just hold for a moment,” the notice said.

“There will be testing available tomorrow. The opening and closing time will be published later on today.Thank you for understanding the fluid situation.”

Important information for testing onsite: The waiting time for walkup students is 45 minutes and there is no shelter…

Several parents responded noting that the queues are shorter at other testing stations at Ōtara and Wiri.

“Just been passed Otara testing station they only had a few cars there,” one parent said.

Deputy principal Ben Claxton replied with the address of the Ōtara testing station next to McDonald’s in the Ōtara town centre car park.

Couillault said a second testing station for “walk-ups” would open at Papatoetoe High School by about 2pm, with shelter while people wait.

“When the weather got really bad, we asked them to return tomorrow,” he said.

He said health authorities still hoped to test 2000 to 3000 people at the school, including most of the school’s 1500 students, by the end of tomorrow.

“But there are other testing stations around that are moving a little more quickly, so there are people going through the queue up and down the street letting them know of where the queues are quicker,” he said.

The school’s Facebook page indicates that there has been confusion about whether everyone in each student’s household needed to be tested, or only the students themselves.

One parent asked: “What’s the current status now? Does the students only required to do the test or people living in the same household needs to do the test as well please?”

Claxton replied: “Covid test update – casual contacts to isolate and test (their families don’t need to). Close contacts and families to isolate and test.”

Information for COVID testing on site and other:The testing center for staff, students and families of Papatoetoe High…

Couillault said the initial advice on Sunday from the Ministries of Health and Education was that everyone in all the students’ households needed to be tested.

“At 5pm the update came through saying for casual contacts it’s only the student that needs to test. Families don’t need to but they are welcome to if they feel concerned,” he said.

Only five teachers and 28 students who are in the home class of the Year 9 student who caught the virus are regarded as “close contacts”, and everyone in their households must get a test and self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Although students usually learn in different class groups for different subjects, Couillault said the affected student was only in her home class all day on Wednesday – the only day last week when she attended school.

All other students and staff at the school are considered “casual” contacts. They all need to get tested, but their families don’t, and unless further cases are found they are currently expected to return to school from Thursday if Auckland’s level 3 lockdown ends on Wednesday night.

Couillault said families were showing “a lot of understanding” despite the uncertainty.

“There is a little bit of anxiety, but people get that it’s a fluid situation,” he said.

Testing stations at the school will close at 5pm today and reopen at 9am tomorrow.

Updates for the testing station: The last swap today will be done at 5:00 pm. The test station opening time is 9:00 am tomorrow. Stay safe and be kind in this challenging time.

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