He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update - 1 March 2022
He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update - 1 March 2022
Ngā mihi o te ahiahi,
Welcome to the first day of autumn.
As expected, cases of Omicron have grown exponentially. I know that this will be placing additional pressure on you, your staff, ākonga and communities. Thank you for your leadership in volatile times.
Please continue to let your regional Te Mahau teams know when you are informed of positive cases of students and staff in your school. This information provides all important context for policy and practice responses.
Despite the rise in numbers of cases it is really important that all children who need to can come to school. Your leadership and management to enable this is highly valued – thank you.
In today’s bulletin, we step through the changes planned to allow children to access school arranged extracurricular activities. I know that this does not free up access to a range of other provision – such as sports clubs or ballet classes, but it does address the concerns raised by many of you.
We have also provided information on managing contacts in situations such as school hostels, overnight trips, and camps, and how to manage children or staff returning to school from their 10-day isolation.
Changes to requirements for school activities
As indicated by Minister Hipkins, all children and young people will soon be able to participate in all school-organised teams and groups regardless of their vaccination status.
An amendment to the health order will now be needed and we anticipate these changes will take effect no later than Tuesday 15 March.
This will apply to onsite and offsite activities for both curriculum-related (including offsite education outside the classroom) and extra-curricular activities offered by a registered school.
This change will apply to intra-school and inter-school competitions/activities as well as competitions/activities where school teams/groups compete against other teams/groups which are not from a school. For example, the school’s First XI competing in a local senior club competition or the school kapa haka group competing against adult groups in a regional competition.
We will advise you when these changes to the health order occur and will update our website information to reflect the above information and advice at that time.
For now, the existing requirements/permissions under the health order remain in place.
What will this mean for children and young people?
This change will mean that after that date, children and young people who are in a school-organised team or group cannot be asked for a vaccine pass.
Activities held off site will still be able to have up to 100 participants in any defined space when at Red, as long as spectators and adult participants (coaches, referees etc) are required to provide vaccine passes.
There is no change to the vaccine requirements for staff and volunteers supporting any school activity involving children and young people – they must be vaccinated and may be asked by venue staff to provide evidence of their vaccination.
This change will support all children to participate fully in school life, regardless of their vaccination status.
Vaccine passes where activities are not school-based
Unvaccinated children aged over 12 years and 3 months may continue to be prevented from participating in some activities if they are participating in a team or group not from their school.
For example, a student playing for a senior club hockey team will still need to provide a vaccine pass if the competition or venue requires evidence of vaccination from all participants.
A reminder those aged under 12 years and 3 months are already able to participate in school activities both on site and off site regardless of their vaccination status.
Education outside the classroom
Once the legislative changes are made, an offsite education outside the classroom (EOTC) provider will not be able to ask children and young people participating in school-organised activities for evidence of vaccination.
Importantly, EOTC providers will no longer have to provide a separate space to host school groups with unvaccinated students. This may open up more options to access EOTC for all students.
Please note, an EOTC provider will still be able to choose whether to accept school groups onsite, so please continue to work closely with your provider to agree the requirements of any visits.
Key messages you can use to support your engagement with EOTC providers
- Overall, secondary-aged students are a well-vaccinated group. As of Wednesday 23 February, over 95% of 12 to 17-year-olds have received one dose of the vaccine, while 92% have received two doses.
- As is required, all our staff and volunteers are fully vaccinated and are also required to be boosted when they become eligible.
- We have very good practices in place to minimise spread of COVID-19 including:
- anyone feeling unwell is asked to stay at home
- we monitor closely for symptoms
- we keep a physical distance from people we don’t know and from other groups
- students, staff and volunteers are reminded regularly about having good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette
- we have a supply of hand sanitiser for teams and groups to use offsite.
- We have a strong mask culture in our school and will be able to adhere to provider/venue mask requirements.
Important public health mitigations that remain
We have checked in with public health to see whether there is any change to their advice for schools.
Whether on site or off site, activities held indoors – especially those involving physical exertion, singing and playing wind instruments – remain a higher risk for spread of COVID-19.
Current public health advice is that wherever possible, these activities should be held outdoors.
If you do decide to go ahead and hold these types of activities indoors:
- it must be in a well-ventilated space
- there should be at least one metre of space per person
- participants should be physically distanced by at least one metre where practicable, and at least two metres apart for singing and when using wind instruments
- gatherings of large numbers of students should not go ahead unless outdoors
- if bringing parents and caregivers on site for non-curriculum events and activities, the rules under the COVID-19 Protection Framework for events and gatherings will apply.
Recent High Court case regarding vaccination mandates
You may have seen the recent decision regarding vaccine mandates for the New Zealand Police and Defence Force personnel.
The Court’s decision applies only to affected people who work in these sectors. The mandates requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all education staff who may interact with children and students remain in place and are not affected by this judgement.
A claim challenging the education sector mandates will be heard in March and we will provide a further update when the outcome of that challenge is known.
There is no change for schools, kura, hostels and licenced early childhood services. Everyone who works for a school who may have contact with children or will be present at a time when children are also present will continue to be covered by the mandatory vaccination requirements.
They will need to continue to have their booster by today Tuesday 1 March or 183 days after their second shot, whichever is later.
Managing contacts in group accommodation situations
We have had a number of requests for guidance on contacts in situations such as school hostels, overnight trips and camps.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that a household contact is someone who shares a house or flat with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (a case) on a permanent or part-time basis (for example, shared custody) and has spent at least one night or day (greater than eight hours) in that residence while the case was infectious.
However, this definition excludes group accommodation (aged residential care facilities, halls of residences, boarding houses, school hostels, backpackers, and so on).
This means that if there is a case connected with a school hostel, school camp, other overnight trip or when providing home-based care, no one involved would be classified as a household contact.
Instead, there will be a number of close contacts of that case who may choose to self-isolate but are not required to do so. At a minimum they should be asked to monitor closely for any symptoms for 10 days.
A reminder that anyone who is a close contact and symptomatic should already be isolating and seeking advice about getting tested.
We have provided advice to school hostels over the weekend to reflect this advice, which is now available on our website.
Overnight trips and camps
The following principles and actions can be applied to overnight trips and camps.
- Planning will need to include how to respond to cases, whether they are staff, volunteers, children or students.
- Schools will need to implement robust infection control measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19. This is likely to include grouping children/students so that they do not intermingle with other groups, staggering mealtimes, airing out rooms in between use by different groups, or only using rooms which are well-ventilated.
- Anyone who is identified as a confirmed case will be required to isolate for 10 days.
- Anyone from the overnight trip/camp who is a close contact of that case is not required to isolate. However, as a precaution you may choose to ask them to isolate for a period of time following their last exposure to the case. There is no legal requirement for this to occur. A period of seven days from their last exposure to the case is recommended should they choose to isolate (this assumes they are isolating separately from the case).
- Anyone in the group, including close contacts of a confirmed case, who is symptomatic (even if only very mild symptoms) must be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
- When cases do arise, they can travel back to their homes to isolate. However, public transport cannot be used to do this.
- Planning must consider how cases will be returned safely to their homes to isolate. If returning home is not possible then you will need a plan for cases to isolate in-situ.
- Where cases need to isolate in-situ:
- they should be separated as much as is practicable from others
- cases can isolate together
- close contacts choosing to isolate should be separated as is practicable from others, but they may isolate together
- close contacts can isolate with the case, but there is an obvious risk of transmission of the virus if sharing the same room while the case is infectious.
- Supporting the health and wellbeing for all members of the group, including staff and volunteers, continues to be a priority.
The guidance for isolating safely in school hostels provides some very helpful information to support people to isolate safely and can be applied to overnight stays and camps.
Returning from isolation as a household contact
We’ve had a number of queries regarding instances where students have completed their required 10 days’ isolation but have had family members subsequently test positive.
Currently there is no legal requirement for family members to remain in isolation beyond the initial 10-day period, once they have returned a negative Day 10 test.
To manage this risk, it is important that if the student develops symptoms they stay at home until they are symptom-free and have returned a negative test result. Alternatively, they could be managed as a case without any need for testing.
It’s important that anyone with symptoms remain at home until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
Please be assured that the current measures in place (masks, physical distancing and ventilation of rooms) in schools continue to provide high levels of protection from infection in a school environment.
What type of contact are you?
This graphic will be helpful in identifying whether you are a household contact and what steps you should take.
Testing positive for COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19, everyone else in your household becomes a household contact and you need to isolate together for at least 10 days.
Download the brochure:
The information covers:
- managing symptoms
- rapid antigen tests (RATs)
- steps to take if you test positive
- what to do when isolating
- support that is available in isolation.
Reminder: EAP services
A reminder that we have extended centrally funded counselling services through EAP Services.
All teachers, relievers and support staff across early learning centres, kura and state and state-integrated schools are able to access these services.
We’re aware that some schools already offer support services to their staff through EAP Services. The centrally funded counselling services apply to staff who register as new users from 24 August 2021 and this funding arrangement will continue through to June 2022.
Charges for pre-existing clients may still be chargeable to your school. If your school or centre has questions about invoices for services delivered through EAP Services, please email email@example.com in the first instance.
You’ll find further information about these EAP services on our website. If you any questions call 0800 327 669/1800 726474 or visit the EAP website.
Help for whānau who are self-isolating
If you know any whānau who need extra support while they are self-isolating because of COVID-19, Work and Income may be able to help.
Many people will be able to self-isolate with help from whānau, family and friends, but there is help available for whānau who need it.
If help is needed, they may be able to get:
- money to pay for urgent and essential costs, like food, medicine, and some bills
- things that are needed to be delivered.
New border exception for international students
A new cohort of up to 5,000 international students was announced by the Government on Thursday 3 February as part of a five-step plan to reopen New Zealand’s borders.
Student numbers will be allocated across the sector based on the proportion of international students who were attending each type of education provider pre-COVID in 2019. The school sector will receive an allocation of 1,000 places for students studying at Year 9 and above.
Although the detailed criteria for this border exception are yet to be determined, students will need to meet living cost requirements. Education agencies will update education providers as soon as this has been confirmed.
Visa processing for this cohort will open from 11.59pm Tuesday 12 April. Students are expected to begin arriving from mid-2022 onwards.
Operational funding notification
The Quarter 2 operational funding entitlement and instalment notices will be available via the Secure Data Portal on Thursday 31 March.
Visit our website for more information and instructions on how to access the Secure Data Portal.
While schools’ funding entitlements are being prepared, staffing entitlement notices will not be updated on the Secure Data Portal from Monday 14 March to Thursday 31 March.
Circular 2022/02: Initiation of bargaining notice
Circular 2022/02 has been published on our website and is about the initiation of bargaining for the renewal of the School Caretakers’, Cleaners’ and Canteen Staff Collective Agreement.
Employers must let any employees who may be covered by this collective agreement know about the upcoming bargaining.
Further information on the bargaining is available from the NZSTA.
Resources to help you understand changes to NCEA
Regardless of whether your school or kura is taking part in any of the four NCEA pilots this year, we are encouraging teachers and school leaders to start thinking now about how they can prepare for the NCEA changes.
We have developed resources to help schools and kura as well as parents and whānau to understand the changes that we are implementing to strengthen NCEA.
These include a ‘Kaiako Wānanga NCEA Facilitation Guide’ to help teachers prepare for conversations with learners and their parents, a ‘Whānau Pocket Guide’ to help whānau understand the NCEA changes and consider ways of supporting their tamariki to succeed and an ‘Ōku Wawata/My Aspirations Pocket Guide’ for ākonga to support conversations between parents and their tamariki about their aspirations through and beyond NCEA.
These resources have been sent to schools. They can also be downloaded from our website and used for your NCEA information evenings.
For queries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for NCEA change through regionally allocated PLD
We’d like to encourage schools or clusters of schools to apply for regionally allocated PLD (RAPLD) to support the implementation of NCEA changes in their schools. Please apply under the ‘Local curriculum design’ priority.
In December 2021, RAPLD updated our facilitator database to include a specialisation category to assist secondary schools to identify facilitators who can lead PLD in specific subject areas to support the upcoming NCEA changes.
Schools can choose multiple facilitators across multiple provider organisations to work together to deliver their PLD if required. For example, a facilitator with NCEA science as a specialisation and a facilitator with mātauranga Māori as a specialisation might work together to plan and facilitate your PLD.
Upcoming mathematics and statistics PLD support
We will be will be introducing PLD to support high-quality teaching and learning of mathematics and statistics and promote effective use of existing resources, with a focus on nzmaths.
This mathematics and statistics PLD support is an extension of the Just-In-Time Maths model piloted last year. The support will be delivered in a blended model which includes both virtual and face-to-face delivery, comprising of cluster workshops and facilitators modelling best practice.
It is designed for up to two teachers from a school or kura to participate.
The mathematics and statistics PLD support will be available to teachers of learners in Years 4 to 8. This support will be contextualised for pāngarau for kura in Māori-medium settings.
How do I apply?
Applications for schools and kura to apply for this support will open on the PLD website from Monday 14 March.
Teachers and kaiako of learners in Years 4- to 8 can be nominated to participate by their principal or in-school PLD lead.
The PLD is scheduled to begin in Term 2 and will run until the end of Term 4.