Parents have praised the actions of a Pāpāmoa primary school described as "an emerging cluster" as it responds to more positive Covid-19 cases.
Five people associated with Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa School had tested positive as of 9am yesterday, in "an emerging cluster", the Ministry of Health said.
The decision was made to close the school on Monday , due to the number of close contacts among the teaching staff. It is the Western Bay's sixth school to report cases.
Rebecca Larsen, who has children isolating, praised the school's handling of the situation.
"Personally, we're pleased with how they [the school] are looking after the children and the staff and how quickly they responded to the news."
She said the school was "responding responsibly and making the right decisions".
One of her children was a close contact and Larsen was told on Friday. She said her children have been "taking it [the tests and isolation] in their stride".
Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris, whose youngest daughter attends the school, said it was a bit concerning but there was no sense of panic among students.
His wife and eldest daughter were all double-vaccinated and his Year 6 daughter was part of a two-hour drive-thru Covid-19 testing process at Baypark today.
They were now awaiting test results and he was self-isolating at home with his youngest daughter.
"It's not compulsory for me to self-isolate but I'm doing so out of respect for my work colleagues as a precautionary measure. "
Morris said communications from principal Bruce Jepsen and his staff had been "exceptional".
"I cannot praise Bruce enough. He's been very agile and exemplary in the way he has communicated with the community so we all know what is happening and why. We also really appreciate that the students can distance learn while we await test results."
Jepsen told the Bay of Plenty Times the school was closed "for logistic reasons" and was working closely with the Public Health Service and the Ministry of Education to guide its response.
"We are focussed on supporting our whānau, school community and our staff and we will continue to respond to their needs for as long as required."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said Toi Te Ora Public Health, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education had been working closely with the school since the first case was identified and was doing an "ongoing risk assessment".
Bay of Plenty District Health Board Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson said a pop-up testing site for Te Akau Ki parents and students would be open Thursday and Friday from 10 am to 3pm.
Richardson said this service would be extended into the weekend if needed.
"This is a site-specific pop-up being set up for the emerging cluster and not intended for the general public. However, nobody who did present for a swab would be turned away."
"Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should get tested, and if not vaccinated, consider getting vaccinated."
Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Suzanne Billington said the ministry's announcement was not unexpected.
"This is the world now, and while there are a range of different cases across the Bay of Plenty, I am quite confident schools are well prepared to respond."
Billington said she was "really, really confident" that schools had rigorous systems in place to keep staff and students safe and keep their families well-informed about what is happening and what they need to do.
"We are continuing to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines and not making it up on the spot ... We all do realise that across the country this is the new norm."
Pāpāmoa Plaza centre manager David Hill said: "Obviously the emerging cluster is a little concerning, but not overly ...''
"We have followed the Ministry of Health's guidelines in terms of social distancing, wearing masks and contact tracing religiously from the outset and will continue to do so.
We also deep clean the centre every single day and will continue to do what is required as our first priority is keeping people safe."
Six schools have now reported positive cases in their school communities - Te Puna School, Mount Maunganui Intermediate School, Aquinas College, Tahatai Coast School, Tauranga Intermediate and Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa School.
Meanwhile, four new Covid-19 cases were announced in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region yesterday by the ministry, taking the total of active cases for the region to 61.
All Bay of Plenty cases were in the Tauranga area, and were close contacts of previously reported cases and were self-isolating at home.
- Additional reporting Sandra Conchie and Tahlia Parker