he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update - 19 November 2021

19 November 2021
he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero

COVID-19 update - 19 November 2021

Ngā mihi o te Rāmere, 

It’s fair to say that over the last 18 months the education landscape has changed significantly. Since our first COVID-19 update in January 2020, we have worked under a strong alert level system which has provided a solid basis for a centrally driven response in uncertain times.

Under this system, there has been a lot of demand on the education sector, but you have shown remarkable resilience and have responded calmly and confidently to the unexpected.

With the arrival of Delta, we’re seeing cases grow exponentially. And as we’ve done so often in recent times, we must update and adapt our processes, particularly in regard to our approach to managing cases of COVID-19 when they occur in our communities. 

We’ve been working with the Ministry of Health to develop toolkits which outline a process that you principals and tumuaki will use when a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs in a school.

These changes have been made based on what we now know about Delta transmission – for example, there is very little evidence of transmission in the ‘casual plus’ category. Preliminary data shows only one in a thousand ‘casual plus’ interactions have resulted in infections. More information below.

Kia pai tō rā whakatā,

Update: Contact tracing in schools

As we move toward the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (the “traffic light” system), and given the increase in vaccination rates, we’ve worked with the Ministry of Health to review how we can best work together to respond when cases arise.

This week the Ministry of Health has implemented changes to the contact tracing process that allow for those at risk to be more precisely identified, and for shorter isolation periods for those who are vaccinated.

These changes will make it easier for schools to stay open for onsite learning when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19.

To help you prepare for and manage when a confirmed case occurs in your school, we have worked with the Ministry of Health to develop a toolkit and step-by-step guide. These tools will help you:

  • outline the process for identifying contacts
  • show how to categorise people into close contacts, casual plus contacts and casual contacts
  • outline what steps contacts should take after they have been identified
  • outline scenarios to help you identify contacts
  • provide letter templates for contacts and the general school community.

Schools and kura will need to complete a spreadsheet that identifies and categorises contacts that will need to be sent to the National Investigation and Tracing Centre (NITC).

The step-by-step guide will help you complete this spreadsheet and regional (Te Mahau) staff will be on hand to walk you through this.

Two separate tool kits – one for primary level and one for secondary level – have been developed to reflect the differences in the age groups. Because younger students are at a greater risk, area schools should use the primary toolkit.

Te Mahau regional offices will connect with schools about the updated approach over the next few weeks.

Primary, intermediate schools and kura

Secondary schools and kura

School hostels

We’ll provide you with an updated copy of the guidance for hostels early next week, but there will be no significant change in the way you will work.

COVID-19 guidance for school hostels [DOCX, 167 KB]

Public health officials will make decisions about how to manage the case, including whether they may need to move into managed isolation, or return home to self-isolate.

Although it is unlikely any case will remain in the hostel, you will need to have a strategy in place to manage isolation while you work to agree to a plan with health officials, the boarder and their parent or caregivers.

If you’re made aware of a case associated with your hostel and haven’t received that notification from health authorities, please contact your local public health unit or your local Ministry of Education contact for information and support:

Public health unit contacts – Ministry of Health

Local  contacts – Ministry of Education

Information about My Vaccine Pass

You’ll be aware My Vaccine Pass can now be accessed which provides evidence of a person’s vaccination status.

My Vaccine Pass will give people access to higher-risk places within New Zealand that will require proof of vaccination under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (“traffic light” system). For example, events, hospitality, close contact businesses such as hairdressers.

However, passes are not needed until New Zealand moves to the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

My Vaccine Pass – Unite Against COVID-19

Settings prohibited from requiring evidence of vaccination

In the meantime, Ministers have agreed that there are certain settings where denying entry on the basis of vaccination status will be prohibited.

These settings are in regard to life-preserving services and being able to access these services (for example, public transport). The settings also include the right to access education. 

As a result, all registered schools (including private schools), all school hostels (including private hostels), and all school transport services (for all students) will be prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination (either via My Vaccine Pass or other tool) as a condition of using or accessing education.

This prohibition will apply to all children, students and their parents or caregivers. It will also apply to secondary students who access learning at tertiary education organisations.

This means that a person’s vaccination status should not restrict learning for children and young people. Neither should it restrict parents and caregivers from supporting their children in their learning.

In addition, school hostels cannot make vaccination a requirement for acceptance as a boarder in the hostel.

Other settings where entry cannot be denied on the basis of vaccination states include public transport, supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, petrol stations and essential health and disability services.

Other events and activities

There are situations where requiring evidence of vaccination is not prohibited.

In situations where events and activities occur on school grounds and where participants extend beyond staff, parents, caregivers and learners, it may be appropriate to ask for a vaccine certificate. Examples of this are fundraising fairs, concerts and other community events.

Third-party users of education facilities will also be able to require evidence of vaccination.

Please note, these decisions by Ministers will be reflected in an Order once the enabling legislation has been passed. We will therefore provide you with further information after the Order is confirmed.

2021 financial reporting

The 2021 annual reporting guidelines provide information on preparing your 2021 annual report and are now available on our website.

The 2021 annual reporting webinar is also available on our website. The webinar is designed to help you prepare your 2021 annual report and to prepare for your annual audit.

Annual reporting guidelines – Ministry of Education

Schools annual reporting webinar 2021 – Ministry of Education

The webinar is available to view at your convenience and is presented in four sections:

  • briefing from the Office of the Auditor-General
  • tips from a school auditor
  • preparing your annual report
  • guidance on key areas.

2021 Kiwi Park model financial statements

The 2021 Kiwi Park model financial statements have been published on our website to help you prepare your annual financial statements.

The models, a list of updates made in 2021, and short instructional videos to help you use the Kiwi Park model can all be found on our website.

If you have any questions on preparing your 2021 annual report, please contact your school finance advisor.

Model spreadsheet examples – Ministry of Education

Contact details for managing school finances – Ministry of Education