The principal of a South Auckland high school at the centre of the latest community Covid-19 outbreak is hoping to get the green light from health authorities to reopen on Monday.
Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault has revealed receiving an unexpected phone call from director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield to personally congratulate him and his staff on how they had handled the past turbulent fortnight.
Since Tuesday afternoon, just on 1100 pupils and staff of the 1500-student school have been to a pop-up Covid-19 testing site in the school hall, and many others had swabs taken elsewhere, after the Ministry of Health revealed a student at the school and her two sisters had tested positive for the virus.
It was the third school family to contract the infection since February 13.
Testing is still under way at the school, with hopes it will be wrapped up today.
To Couillault's relief, he had not had a phone call today informing him of any new cases.
Instead he was "fortunate enough" to get the call from Bloomfield who wanted to personally acknowledge the efforts of the Papatoetoe teachers.
"He congratulated our staff for the work that they've done. I congratulated him back, to be fair, for the work that he had done," said Couillault.
Now it was a waiting game to see if any new cases were to emerge in the coming 48 hours.
"There's a couple of days of interest at the weekend where the most recent family were out and about and I'm sure there are some close contacts of students at the school that are isolating so we are in a little bit of 'hold your breath, I hope we don't have to go again' because it's not five days since Saturday yet," he said.
Couillault said school cleaning staff, who had been waiting on negative test results, were starting a comprehensive deep clean of school buildings. They had begun on the classrooms farthest from the hall, he said.
Testing at the school was now down to a trickle, with the likelihood that the site would not be operating tomorrow, he said.
The school would remain closed this week.
"It's looking like Monday we'll be able to open back up again but we're yet to recieve confirmation on that," he said.
"I'd love the opportunity to open back up on Monday. We've got to get our kids back into class."
The Ministry of Health would make the final decision.
Once he received the go-ahead to resume classes on Monday, he expected most pupils to return.
When casual-plus contacts of the infected cases received negative tests, they too could go back to their normal lives.
Couillault said close contacts in the same class as the first Year 9 girl to contract Covid-19 would have now completed their mandatory 14-days in self-isolation and be able to return.
The only students who might not be in class would be those connected with the Kmart location of interest.