PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 23 February 2022 -
No amount of spin will deliver RATs to schools
Schools across the country are on the verge of shutting due to staff being forced to self-isolate yet the Government remains more focused on spin over delivery of rapid antigen tests, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.
“There are supposedly 200,000 rapid tests being distributed to schools. With around 2500 schools in New Zealand, that averages out at fewer than 80 tests per school. That’s not enough for the 70,000 teachers and 800,000 students we have in this country.
“It’s no wonder the Government is having to ration rapid tests and make them as difficult as possible to access.
“But rather than admit the Government was too slow to order rapid tests and be upfront about the fact they don’t have enough, the Prime Minister keeps contradicting the Ministry of Education about schools’ ability to access the tests.
“According to the Ministry of Education, rapid antigen tests are currently only available to schools in a situation where there wouldn’t be enough teachers in the school to cater to the children of critical workers.
“Schools desperately trying to get access to the tests are being told they need to make a request to the Ministry of Education and that a response could take up to 48 hours.
“Yet in a brazen attempt to cover up her Government’s incompetence, the Prime Minister stated yesterday that schools have the ‘flexibility’ to use rapid tests and that schools were ‘best placed to make that decision’.
“Every principal I have spoken to would decide in a heartbeat to get rapid tests so that teachers don’t have to isolate and they can keep their doors open to students. But no matter what the Prime Minister says, that’s not a decision they currently have the power to make.
“The Government needs to spend less time on spin and more time on figuring how to quickly get enough rapid tests sent out to all teachers so that schools aren’t forced to shut their doors to students.”