ICC to allow access for unvaccinated schoolkids


UNVACCINATED children are now able to enter the Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) library and swimming pool to attend school activities when government legislation kicks in.

In December, the council introduced a policy requiring the public entering most of its facilities to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

It included the Splash Palace swimming pool complex and the City Library which were places used for curricular and extracurricular school activities.

At the start of the month, the council decided to review its vaccination mandate in its facilities in April after having received a staff report about the matter.

However, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said last month that while he encouraged children who were eligible to be vaccinated, those who had not been vaccinated could not be deterred from accessing education and all of its activities as part of its Education Outside The Classroom legislation.

On Tuesday, ICC leisure and recreation group manager Steve Gibling confirmed children would be able to enter its facilities.

“The change to the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order came into effect at 11.59pm on Saturday.

“The changes solely relate to students who are enrolled in a registered school and who are participating in an extracurricular or curricular activity.”

He said ICC would also recognise children engaged in home schooling activities as a part of this change.

“Each of our service areas have worked through the practical implications of the change, which includes reviewing and refreshing its role-based risk assessments to ensure these now reflect the changes in legislation.

“The venues will be communicating with schools and our partners about their bookings. ”

Last week at a performance, policy and partnerships committee meeting, Mr Gibling informed councillors it would be illegal for venues to continue requiring vaccination mandates for those children when they were engaged in school activities outside the classroom.

“Essentially, once the legislation is passed, council will not be able to apply its vaccine mandate policy to these children and is likely to occur around March 15 [passage of the legislation].”

Cr Rebecca Amundsen asked whether that meant those children could only be part of school activities or whether they could also be part of sports clubs.

Mr Gibling said children would have the exception for venues if they were associated with school activities.

“So they could attend, say for example, Splash Palace on a Friday evening to play water polo [for the school] and their vaccination exemption would apply. While on Saturday morning, going for a slide on the hydroslide, they would need to have the vaccine pass – at this point,” he said.