Waikato schools have been warned the number of cases in the region could surge to 91 a day by the end of the year and principals being told they will be needed to support their community's response.
In the past week, Waikato has averaged 14 cases a day and the total number of cases in the region since the outbreak started sits at 478.
Melville High School principal Clive Hamill posted on the south Hamilton college's Facebook page that schools in the region have been told by the Ministry of Education's regional director that district health boards and public health units will struggle to cope as the number of cases grow.
The latest projections the ministry provided to schools last week reveals case numbers could reach 91 a day by December 31, he said. Waikato recorded 15 cases today.
"The MoE believes that a shared response is required for managing our Covid response – it is too big a job for one agency to manage alone," Hamill said.
"They have identified that school principals know their communities and can support a targeted bespoke response to positive cases in their communities and schools."
Hamilton primary school principals have also told parents that the new traffic light system would not effect the way schools are operating this year or next.
The only change would be that under the red traffic light, Year 4 students and upwards have to wear masks.
The Ministry of Education would not provide the Herald with the case number projections saying they were held by the Ministry of Health - but confirmed a new process for dealing with positive cases at schools had been put in place.
MoE operations and integration leader Sean Teddy confirmed the ministry would now be the primary contact for schools, kura and early learning services to support them with the classification of contacts.
This would enable public health teams to focus on the case investigation process, focus on household contacts and liaising with contacts identified by the school/service and providing health information whenever necessary, he said.
The Waikato DHB, according to information provided to the Herald last month, has six of its 16 ICU beds designated for Covid-19 patients.
It could increase the number of beds to 22 by re-scheduling surgeries that also uses ICU beds for recovery and expanding to 33 ventilator-capable beds by combining ICU and HDU beds.
Waikato Hospital is the only hospital in the region with ICU facilities.