Test to stay and free N95 masks needed in schools

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Green Party is calling for “test to stay” and N95 masks in schools and early childhood education.

The Government’s announcement today of expanded availability of RATs for schools is welcome but much more needs to be done.

“To keep our tamariki and the communities around them safe, the Green Party wants to see a test to stay system introduced for schools, N95 masks or equivalents being made freely available, and the expansion of masks down to year one,” says Teanau Tuiono, Green Party spokesperson for COVID-19 response and education.

“Whānau are understandably concerned about sending their children to school. We must do everything we can to ensure our schools and early childhood centres are safe at this time.

“A ‘test to stay’ system would allow school-associated ‘close contacts’ to continue learning in the classroom while reducing onward transmission between students and staff, and their whānau. A similar approach has been used overseas to manage infections in schools.

“The Green Party has long called for N95 masks to be made available to everyone for free. It is more urgent than ever that the Government make N95 or equivalent quality masks available to all schools, as well as encouraging mask use for students down to year 1.

“Our Māori and Pasifika whānau are particularly vulnerable at this stage, with five to 11-year-old vaccination rates falling behind. We must prioritise those community health providers out there supporting our whānau to get vaccinated.”

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