By Adam Burns, Local Democracy Reporter
An Ashburton intermediate school is defending its call to implement vaccine requirements for a school camp early next year.
Ashburton Intermediate principal Brent Gray confirmed its Year 8 school camp will exclude unvaccinated pupils from attending the camp which would be situated on Department of Conservation (DoC) land.
The department confirmed earlier this month that all DoC campgrounds and huts would only be open to those who were fully vaccinated from December 15.
“First and foremost we have to go with what their guidelines are,” Gray said.
Gray said there were other issues around public access to other facilities on the trip which made it difficult.
One parent hit out at the school on social media and said she was “concerned about this segregation”.
It has been a longstanding tradition for the school to hold the camp at a site in Peel Forest, north of Geraldine, the principal said.
“It’s going to be incredibly divisive… what we offer to many versus what we offer to a few,” Gray said.
“I know it’s difficult because you should be providing education for all and that education will continue but it might be that opportunity isn’t there for some people.”
Gray said there was still a number of matters that still needed to be worked through, including the propsect of a shift to green prior to the camp schedlued for March 2022.
He confirmed only two parents had been in touch with their concerns.
Making things more complex was the fact that the camp was set to cater for pupils aged between 11-13, Gray said.
“For years there’s been children who can’t go on camp, for one or another reason and there’ll always be a programme provided.”
Medsafe has confirmed provisional approval this week for children aged 5-11 year olds for two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, administered at least 21 days apart.
Tasman-based outdoor education provider Whenua Iti Outdoors expressed concerns this week around vaccine requirements for school pupils, suggesting that it was a breach of the Human Rights Act.
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