PM makes personal call to school board chair

Marist College

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made a personal call to the chairperson of the board of an Auckland Catholic school which has been in the news as one of the novel coronavirus “clusters” in New Zealand.

The chair of the board of Marist College in Auckland, Stephen Dallow, wrote on the school’s Facebook page on March 27 that he had “just received a personal call from our Prime Minister”.

“She wanted to pass on her best wishes to our community at this time. She knows you are all nervous and worried, but we will get through this. Her heart is very much with us at Marist.”

Mr Dallow added: “We live in a pretty special country when a Prime Minister, in the middle of a crisis, can still ring and discuss things directly.”

Earlier on March 27, the board chair had talked on a Facebook video post of hearing about a handful of students being out on the streets, mixing with others. He strongly emphasised that this could not happen. “We have to stay home,” he said, in order to stop the spread of the disease.

Before she sent her message to Mr Dallow, Ms Ardern had been questioned about the students during a press briefing. The Prime Minister made a plea to the students involved to take the restrictions seriously, especially so as not to put those whom they love at risk.

As of March 30, according to a Ministry of Health update, there were 47 confirmed and probable cases in the Marist College “cluster”.

Among those who had tested positive was principal Raechelle Taulu.

On March 27, Mr Dallow wrote on Facebook that “many are providing feedback that they are well or nearly back to full health. For a lot, the symptoms were mild. One case I reported as serious has come back negative, a reminder that there are normal change-of-season bugs out there as well.”

A letter from deputy principal–pastoral care Emma Coupar-Wanoa, posted on Facebook on March 27, stated that “the head girls will be launching a Marist College Student Instagram account as a way for our students to stay connected”.

“They will post messages, prayers, well-being tips, and fun activities to do while in self-isolation and lockdown. If students are under 13 years old, their parents can follow this account and share messages/information with their daughters.”

The letter noted that this would be a private account and would be overseen by the deputy principal-pastoral care. 

Michael Otto

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