Masks on at school

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Mask wearing will be compulsory for pupils and staff at Ashburton College and for all Year 4 pupils and above at other schools when the gates open for the start of a new school year.

Masks would be “unpleasant” to wear all day for everyone, but the current regulations meant they would have to be worn, Ashburton College principal Ross Preece said.

The school had a current supply of 500 masks but staff and students were expected to supply their own.

Mr Preece said a vaccine mandate applied to all staff but not to pupils.

He said Schools Sports New Zealand had made it clear that pupils playing competitive inter-school sport needed to be vaccinated or would not be allowed to compete.

He said there were rules in place if covid was detected in the school and those rules did not necessarily mean the immediate lockdown of the whole school.

Year 9 and Year 13 students start back at Ashburton College on February 3, Year 12 and Year 10 pupils the following day and the first day for the whole school is February 8.

“We’re expecting 280 Year 9 students this year and we usually welcome them in the auditorium – that won’t be happening.

“Instead we will have to go outside and hope the weather is kind to us,” Mr Preece said.

He said an upcoming teacher-only day would now need re-thinking because staff numbers were greater than 100.

“We’ve got guidelines to follow and we will be following them.”

Flexibility remained the key to the delivery of education during the pandemic, he said.

-By Mick Jensen