Parents barred from school Christmas concert over fears of vaccine legal stoush

St Martins School in Christchurch has had to change plans after parents objected to vaccine requirements for a concert.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Stuff
St Martins School in Christchurch has had to change plans after parents objected to vaccine requirements for a concert.

Parents were not allowed to attend a Christchurch school’s Christmas concert after some family members objected to the vaccine proof requirement for the event.

St Martins School originally intended to invite parents to the concert, with a limit of one family member, a capacity cap of 100 people, and vaccine proof requirement for parents.

But the plans were scrapped after some parents asked for the school’s legal basis behind the decision to require proof of vaccination. The concert went ahead on Monday with just school staff and pupils in attendance.

St Martins School board of trustees chairwoman Kate Hodgins said it was “really disappointing for the parents and the children” that family members could not attend.

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“Some parents weren’t happy with the idea of having to provide vaccination status, so the school made the decision that we couldn’t go ahead,’’ she said.

Has your child’s Christmas concert been cancelled because of Covid? Email reporters@press.co.nz

“It was not our preference because we were hoping to work with the guidelines.

“But, if we have people in the community that can’t support it, we didn’t want staff to have to deal with difficult parents.”

Schools in Christchurch are operating under level 2 of the previous pandemic control system and will move to the new traffic light system next year.

Hodgins said the school had no appetite to defend the legal basis for the plans.

“We don’t really want to be dragged into that at this time of year.”

It was hard for the school to interpret Ministry of Education guidelines on the pandemic controls, she said.

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“There has been a constant shifting. It is difficult for schools to work within that.”

Public health expert Michael Baker said it should be considered the “new normal” for gatherings to require vaccination proof.

He said the combination of unvaccinated children and singing at a school Christmas concert could lead to many infections.

“Primary school students are not vaccinated, so you could have a superspreader situation there,’’ he said.

“Singing generates a lot of aerosols and one student could infect everyone else.

“Any event involving unvaccinated people will present a real problem from now on.”

School principal Andrew Mouat could not be reached for comment. He said via email that the Christmas concert went ahead on Monday.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education did not respond to questions about school guidelines for concerts and instead provided links to Government advice for schools.