he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update - 17 February 2022

17 February 2022
he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero

COVID-19 update - 17 February 2022

Ngā mihi o te Rāpare,

One of the key challenges I’ve heard many of you are working with this week is parents and whānau who are frustrated that many sporting or cultural associations and venues are asking for vaccine passes – particularly when these are perceived to have an educational purpose.

In today’s bulletin we have provided information that clarifies the current policy and outlines the situations in which a vaccine pass may be required. Obviously, all school-based curricular activities are offered without reference to vaccine status – in those cases where you want to access other providers, I encourage you to select those that support all of your students to participate regardless of their vaccine status.

I am aware that you are continuing to receive objectionable, challenging or threatening correspondence.  We have provided advice on ways to deal with that.

Kia ora rawa atu,

Extra-curricular sport and cultural activities

While curriculum-related activities on school grounds will never require My Vaccine Pass, many sporting or cultural associations and venues providing extra-curricular activities will require evidence of a pass for participants due to the gathering size necessary for it to go ahead safely.

At Red, you can have up to 100 people within a defined space with the use of My Vaccine Pass. If the provider/venue chooses to not require the My Vaccine Pass, they are limited to 25 participants in any defined space.

Anyone aged under 12 years and three months cannot be required to show evidence of vaccination and must be able to participate in any activities, whether curriculum-related or not.

Your students can do (extra-curricular) team trainings at school. However, you will need to ensure you meet the COVID-19 Protection Framework for those activities. This will mean deciding whether you will require a My Vaccine Pass or not.

If you want more than 25 people at team practices (in any defined space), you will need to require My Vaccine Pass, which, as you know, will prevent those students not yet fully vaccinated from participating.

We encourage you, wherever possible, to choose activities, providers and venues for extra-curricular activities that will support all your students to participate regardless of their vaccine status.

There are no limits on gatherings for curriculum-related activities, although we continue to strongly recommend that large gatherings of students are avoided when at Red.

This is based on advice from public health with large events at risk of becoming super-spreader events.

There is greater risk of spread of COVID-19 when indoors and when not wearing masks and undertaking physical activity. It is for these reasons that public health advice is very clear that curriculum-related physical activities should not be held indoors when at Red. Nor should singing or playing wind instruments.

We will keep you updated in the event this advice changes at any stage in the future.

With Omicron cases rapidly increasing, we continue to advocate for a cautious approach to any events and activities.

Some examples of school-based curriculum-related events and activities include:

  • assemblies
  • physical education classes (including swimming)
  • parent-teacher meetings
  • examinations
  • school plays or performances during class time
  • cultural activities during class time
  • pōwhiri (for example, start of year/new student or staff welcomes)
  • music during class time
  • inter-school events during class time (such as inter-school sport events)
  • science fairs.

A reminder that as soon as you bring others on site (who are not receiving or providing education services) for curriculum-related events, including parents and caregivers, you will need to follow the relevant rules which apply to all events and activities in the Red setting.

Generally, events and activities are not curriculum-related if they occur outside of class time – particularly where attendance is optional.

Some examples of events and activities that are not curriculum-related include:

  • prize-giving events involving the wider community (parents and whānau)
  • school balls and leavers’ dinners
  • weekend sports
  • community use of swimming pools or other facilities
  • out-of-hours music and art, and sporting and cultural activities held out of school hours
  • school fairs and fundraising events
  • PTA meetings
  • religious instruction during school hours (state schools only).

Education outside the classroom

A reminder that providers of education outside the classroom (EOTC) activities can choose to not require the My Vaccine Pass. See more information in our bulletin on 3 February.

Education outside the classroom – School Bulletin 3 February

EOTC providers are able to offer curriculum-related activities/services to a registered school without requiring all children to be vaccinated (even if this is a requirement for other users of their facilities).

The provider will need to meet a number of conditions, including:

  • working with a registered school to deliver curriculum-related activities/services
  • the activity is held in a defined space (either sole use of the venue or a separate defined space for the entire period the service is provided)
  • all staff delivering the service are fully vaccinated.

Communicating with your community about sport

Unsurprisingly, many parents find the distinction between extra-curricular and curricular sport confusing. You will know the importance of clear communications with your community about this issue. 

In short:

  • all tamariki under 12 years and three months can participate in curriculum-related and extra-curricular activities, on site and off site, regardless of their vaccination status
  • ākonga over 12 years and three months are able to access all education-related activities when at school regardless of their vaccination status
  • ākonga over 12 years and three months may need to show their My Vaccine Pass in order to participate in non-curriculum-related sports and activities you hold on site
  • this may also apply to any offsite activities (curriculum-related or not) and will depend on decisions made by you and by the providers of those activities.

Update: Close contact exemption scheme

In our bulletin on Tuesday, we provided information on the close contact exemption scheme. As indicated, we are generally not anticipating schools and kura will need to access the scheme for staff (other than those employed in critical roles in school hostels).

Close contact exemption scheme – School Bulletin 15 February

However, there may be some situations where it will be necessary for schools and kura to access the scheme – for example, in instances where you have insufficient staff able to come on site to supervise children who need to be there as they do not have suitable care at home. Any decision to access the scheme will need to be balanced against the health risks for students.

To access this scheme, your school or kura will need to be registered a critical service on MBIE’s critical services register. If you think you may need to access the scheme, you can either register now or register at the time that your staff need access.

Close contact exemption scheme – Te Mahau

You will need to sign in using RealMe, but the process to register is very straightforward once you are logged in.

When you are asked for your primary business activity, please select ‘miscellaneous’ from the drop-down list. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email with more information.

We understand that this process creates extra work for you and anticipate that we will be able to improve the process to make this easier shortly.

Dealing with challenging or threatening correspondence

We’re aware that school leaders are continuing to receive challenging correspondence about COVID-19 measures from members of their community and/or the general public.

Any aggressive, threatening or intimidating behaviour or communications should be reported as part of your school systems and to the police.

As always, if you think that you or someone else is in danger, you should call 111. Non-emergency situations can be reported by calling 105 or by making an online 105 report.  Reports made to police are logged and assigned to an officer for follow up – this could be to a community police officer or a frontline officer, depending on whether a prevention approach or response is appropriate.

105 non-emergency – NZ Police

We understand that receiving threatening messages can be upsetting and worrying. We encourage you to access the free and confidential support for debriefing through EAP Services. Call 0800 327 669/1800 726 474 or visit our website for information.

Workforce wellbeing: EAP Services – Te Mahau

Our best advice remains not to engage with these correspondents. We know that this may not always be possible, particularly if the correspondence is from a parent or caregiver of a child at your school.

However, if you do choose to reply, we have prepared a basic acknowledgement template that you may want to use to respond to such correspondence.

Template letter for acknowledging correspondence

Template letter for acknowledging correspondence [DOCX, 18 KB]

Please note, the template also includes draft lines that you can use to respond to some of the common issues being raised in the instance a more substantive response is appropriate.

Managing cases of COVID-19: Process in Phase 2

Isolation periods and transitioning to Phase 2

As you will be aware, in Phase 1 of the response to Omicron, close contacts of people with COVID-19 were required to self-isolate for 10 days.

In Phase 2, the isolation period has been reduced to seven days.

This means that any close contacts can now return to schools and kura on day eight if their test day five was returned negative and they are symptom free.

Contact tracing upload tool

There have been changes to how the National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC) receives information from schools and early learning services.

Previously a spreadsheet is completed and emailed to NITC. While this spreadsheet is still useful for identifying close contacts, there has been an update to the process and the NITC will now also send an email link asking you to use the contact tracing upload tool (CTUT) when there is a positive case of COVID-19.

Contact tracing upload tool – Ministry of Health

  • This link requires you to register with CTUT. Once you’ve registered, a spreadsheet is downloaded, and close contact details are added to the spreadsheet. This is a generic spreadsheet for all businesses to complete.
  • You only need to fill out the information that you would normally know about (for example, there are some optional fields such as NHI number, which schools are not required to know or provide).
  • Once you have completed the spreadsheet you will need to upload it to CTUT. CTUT is interactive and will advise what you need to do at each step.

We understand that this process creates extra work for you and anticipate that we will be able to improve the process to make this easier shortly.

COVID-19 relief funding for schools

As indicated in our bulletin on 10 February, changes have been made to relief funding for Term 1 where absences relate to a staff member that:

  • has tested positive for COVID-19
  • is caring for a dependent that is suffering from COVID-19
  • is confirmed as a close contact and are directed to self-isolate by health authorities and are unable to work from home.

Supporting schools to support staff – School Bulletin 10 February

For teachers, the additional relief teaching funding (ARTF) policy has been reduced from eight days to four days, so you are now able to apply for ARTF where relief has been employed to cover COVID-19 teacher absences greater than four days.

For non-teaching staff, funding is available from the first day of absences where relief has been employed to cover COVID-19 non-teacher absences.  

Information on how to claim is now available on our website. 

Additional relief teacher funding – Te Mahau

Vaccine mandate relief support scheme

Schools who had to work though employment processes with staff who have not met the vaccine mandate requirements may be eligible for additional funding to fund part of the costs incurred.

The costs must relate to relief teachers that have been hired during paid notice periods directly related to staff members not meeting the vaccination mandate.

The funding is retrospective and is only available for relief staff employed during Term 4 2021 (18 October to 20 December 2021). 

Eligibility criteria

  • The school must have entered an employment process which has resulted in termination of employment due to non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • The school must have incurred actual additional relief teacher costs. That is, a reliever was hired during the terminated employee’s paid notice period.
  • This fund will only provide support for the notice period, that is up to four weeks for non-teaching staff or up to eight weeks for teaching staff.
  • The affected staff must fit into one of the following six categories: principals, teachers, teacher aides, relief teachers and casual staff, caretakers and cleaners or administration staff.
  • The cost is not related to contractors and other tradespeople, service managers, caregivers and other staff. It is considered these positions will be replaced on a contractual basis and therefore do not require inclusion for back-fill of costs to employ relief staff, or may be volunteer staff members, thereby negating the school incurring any costs.
  • The cost must have incurred between the dates of 18 October 2021 and 20 December 2021.
  • If the paid notice period took place while the school was closed, no funded relief cover would be available.

Applying for the scheme

To apply for this funding, please go to our website to download an application form.

Forms for resourcing – Ministry of Education

Applications must be received by Thursday 14 April. 

Please note, as applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis eligibility cannot be confirmed prior to an application being submitted. 

If you have any questions or concerns relating to this, email our resourcing team for further assistance: resourcing@education.govt.nz.

Continuing to support initial teacher education placements

Several initial teacher education (ITE) providers have contacted the Teaching Council with concerns that some schools are hesitant to host ITE students on their professional experience placements under the Red setting.

While non-essential visitors are to be excluded from visiting school premises under the Red setting, fully vaccinated staff, support people, and volunteers are allowed onto school grounds.

We encourage schools to continue hosting ITE students on their professional experience placements as they are covered by the vaccination mandate and do not pose an additional health risk to students.

The professional experience placement is an important component of ITE and should continue with as little disruption as possible to maintain the pipeline of qualified teachers entering the profession. 

Support for self-isolating households

As you may be aware, under the traffic light system, people with COVID-19 will self-isolate in the community.

In November, the Government announced funding for the welfare support and resources needed to support individuals and whānau who contract COVID-19 and need extra support while they self-isolate.

Additional support for people isolating at home – Beehive

The funding enables supporting agencies and providers to deliver on the 'Care in Community' welfare response.

If you are aware of any whānau self-isolating and who need additional support, we have included a list of the food providers and community connectors available in each region.

Food providers and community connectors – MSD

Positive parenting during COVID-19

To support mental health, resilience and emotional wellbeing for our tamariki and rangatahi, the Ministry of Health has partnered with Whāraurau to offer parents, whānau and caregivers free online versions of the Triple P: Positive Parenting Programme across the country.

Register for a positive parenting progamme – Triple P

There are three free Triple P online programmes available to help positively support children to reduce anxiety, build emotional resilience and life skills and cope with challenges:

  • Fear-Less Triple P Online for parents and caregivers of children and teenagers (aged six to 14 years) who have significant anxiety
  • Triple P Online for parents with toddlers to 12-year-olds
  • Teen Triple P Online for parents with ‘tweens’ or teenagers aged 10 to 16 years.

These programmes will also provide whānau a toolkit to help them to guide behaviour positively and encourage children’s learning.

Update: Out-of-zone enrolment guidance

We will be updating our guidance to boards to clarify offers of enrolment to out-of-zone students.

When an offer of enrolment is made to an out-of-zone student and accepted by the parents or caregivers of that student, it may not then be revoked by the board due to unexpected in-zone enrolments.

Further information

Last year there was a case where parents had made application for their child to enrol as an out-of-zone student prior to turning five.

The school made enrolment offers to this student and several other out-of-zone students, and these offers were accepted. However, the school subsequently received a large and unprecedented number of in-zone enrolments and, as a result, rescinded the out-of-zone offers.

One student’s parents challenged the decision and the High Court initially ruled that the withdrawal of the offer to enrol was valid. However, the parents appealed, and the Court of Appeal ruled that the student was entitled to enrol at the school as per the initial offer.


Consultation open: Electronic school board elections

In our bulletin in October we let you know that the 2022 Triennial school board elections would take place between 5 to 23 September 2022.

Triennial school board elections – School Bulletin 27 October 2021

Moving the elections was to help reduce pressure in the early part of 2022 and help to increase participation in the elections. It also allowed time to make changes to the current election regulations to enable an electronic option.

You are now invited to give feedback on the draft Education (Board Election) Amendment Regulations 2022.

Enabling electronic school board election – Kōrero Mātauranga

Enabling electronic school board elections consultation – Ministry of Education

These regulations propose an update to the existing Education (Board Election) Regulations 2000 and include a major change to enable the option for school board elections to be held electronically. 

Consultation is open until Friday 18 March. 

If you have questions, want to hear more about the changes or to express your interest in attending a webinar, please email legislation.consultation@education.govt.nz.

Extension: Supporting Afghanistan evacuees to enrol in schools

Since August 2021, the New Zealand government has supported approximately 1,000 Afghan evacuees to arrive in New Zealand. Around 274 of these are school-aged children with half of primary age and half of secondary age.

To ensure these children have access to education, we are granting them status as domestic students for the remaining 2022 school year.

We have updated The Education (Domestic Students) Notice 2022 with a new clause as follows:

o) For the remainder of the 2022 school year only, a child who arrived in New Zealand on or after 17 August 2021 after being evacuated from Afghanistan.

Please note, if your school enrols a number of these children, you may be eligible to receive additional staffing through the extraordinary roll growth process.

Staffing for roll growth – Ministry of Education

If you’re aware of children from Afghanistan who have recently arrived in your community who wish to enrol at your school but are not currently able to do so, please contact your regional Te Mahau office. They will support you through the enrolment and funding process.

Further information about students entitled to enrol in schools can be found on our website.

Circular 2020/08: Eligibility to enrol in New Zealand schools – Ministry of Education

The re-design of Te Mārautanga o Aotearoa

As you will recall, in February 2021 Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti announced that the national curriculum, including Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, will be refreshed over the next four to five years.

The approach for refreshing Te Marautanga o Aotearoa has included genuine and authentic design by Māori, with Māori, for Māori, from a te ao Māori perspective.

The resulting re-designed curriculum will ensure Te Marautanga o Aotearoa remains fit for purpose for te reo Māori education pathways.

Find more information on the changes to Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and how to get involved here:

Refresh of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa – Kauwhata Reo

Te Rōpū Whāiti

Since the announcement, we have formed Te Rōpū Whāiti, an advisory group made up of Māori education experts. These experts will provide advice and guidance to the Ministry and to working groups from the sector throughout the re-design of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Read individual profiles on Te Rōpū Whāiti members on the Kauwhata Reo website:

Rōpū Whāiti – Kauwhata Reo

You will hear more about Te Rōpū Whāiti and the working groups as we begin engaging with the sector and with whānau, hapū and iwi.

We will keep you informed with regular updates in bulletins and on the Kauwhata Reo website.

Adult and Community Education (ACE) in schools funding

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has announced a new opportunity in 2022 for schools to apply for Adult and Community Education (ACE) in Schools coordination funding.

ACE in Schools coordination funding – Tertiary Education Commission

The purpose of this funding is to help expand ACE in Schools delivery, either by having more schools delivering programmes, by expanding the number of classes available, or by expanding into target areas. Funding can be used to support setup costs such as programme coordination salaries and administrative costs.

If you wish to become a new provider of ACE in Schools, contact a TEC customer service advisor on 0800 601 301 or email customerservice@tec.govt.nz.

Last-chance opportunities

VLN Primary School 2022 registrations

Nau mai, haere mai, all New Zealand children are welcome to learn with VLN Primary.

Extend curriculum choices for your learners and increase your school’s confidence and capability in online and distance learning.

A wide range of language programmes available including te reo Māori, Kapa Haka, digital technology, gifted and talented creative arts, literacy, and science and maths.

Find out more and register your interest online or contact primary@vln.school.nz with queries.

VLN Primary in 2022 – VLN Primary School

Kia tere, hurry. Registrations close this Monday 21 February. Classes start the week of 14 March.

Apple Education back-to-school learning sessions

Did you miss January’s back-to-school live learning sessions? For a limited time only, these sessions are available on-demand for registered attendees.

Back-to-school learning sessions – Apple

You’ll discover new ways to enhance the classroom with iPad and Mac – exploring fun apps, lesson ideas, time-saving tips, free learning materials and more.

Karawhiua, go for it. Registrations close this Tuesday 22 February.