Schools ban students, stop events after measles outbreak

By Derek Cheng

All sport, cultural and academic trips, and the school ball, have either been cancelled or postponed at Fraser High School. Photo / Christine Cornege
All sport, cultural and academic trips, and the school ball, have either been cancelled or postponed at Fraser High School. Photo / Christine Cornege

Measles outbreaks have forced two large Hamilton schools to quarantine students and cancel or postpone all sporting, cultural and academic trips for the rest of the term. One has postponed its school ball.

Fraser High and Hamilton Girls High, with combined rolls of 3300, have ordered all students who have not been immunised to stay at home under quarantine for at least the two-week incubation period.

This includes a ban on public places such as sports events, gatherings, parties and public transport.

The Waikato District Health Board has confirmed 38 cases of measles at Fraser High and one at Hamilton Girls, and 20 suspected cases are being investigated throughout the city.

Fraser High has postponed its July 4 ball and is also considering banning all visitors to the school until term 3 starts on July 21 - unless students and visitors can prove that they're fully immunised with two shots of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

"All Fraser sporting, cultural and academic trips are cancelled or postponed for the remainder of term 2," a newsletter from principal Virginia Crawford said.

Staff have also been hit by the highly infectious virus. To ease pressure on them and reduce the risk of infection, Fraser High taught only juniors on Thursday, while yesterday was for seniors only.

On Monday, the school wants only juniors to attend.

Mrs Crawford, who did not return calls yesterday, noted the huge burden on the school and its 1800 students.

"I apologise once again for the serious inconvenience this is to our school community. he school is doing everything we can to ensure that the school remains open, and staffed to support our students in an extraordinary situation," she wrote.

Hamilton Girls' High principal Marie Gordon said the school had also stopped exchanges with other schools.

"It is an inconvenience, it is a disruption. But we have to ensure that we are being precautionary and our community is fully kept in the loop."

She did not know how many of the 1600 enrolled would be quarantined at home, as letters to parents were delivered only yesterday.

"We're checking the immunisation status of our staff and students. We've asked them to stay home until June 20, if they're not sure."

Waikato DHB medical officer of health Anita Bell said measles could be very serious, "with one in three sufferers experiencing complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis or diarrhoea".

"While one in 10 on average requires hospitalisation, admission rates in this outbreak have been higher."

The DHB is sending information packs to all schools, early childhood centres and general practices.

- APNZ

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