he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero
COVID-19 update – 21 July 2022

21 July 2022
he pitopito kōrero

He Pitopito Kōrero

COVID-19 update – 21 July 2022

Ahiahi mārie,

I hope you’re keeping safe out there as heavy rain and strong winds batter much of the country. We’re also battling winter illnesses and the ongoing effects of COVID-19 that will impact your school community as you enter Term 3.

To help you with this, the Government is providing adult-sized and now child masks for Term 3. You’ll see more below on how to order the masks.

For Term 3, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education recommend students Year 4 and above wear masks indoors for the next four weeks of term.

This will impact your mask policy, so we’ve provided guidance on the benefits of mask wearing that you may wish to share with your staff and a letter template for your parents and whānau.

Minister Tinetti has sent a letter informing school boards outlining the Government’s strong recommendation to review and enforce a mask wearing policy as much as practicable.

We understand that implementing mask policies can be a challenge but ask that you take action to strengthen your mask wearing policy as soon as possible to protect your staff and students against the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne respiratory viruses.

We are also providing additional C02 monitors alongside ongoing support through Term 3. 

If at any stage you need to move to hybrid or offsite learning, we know that you will make the best decisions for your ākonga and community.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei,

Masking up for Term 3: Managing winter illnesses and COVID-19

A combination of the usual Term 3 winter illnesses and COVID-19 is likely to put more pressure on your school, kura and community.

The public health advice clearly shows that mask wearing is a strong tool in the defence against the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne respiratory viruses. Masks are effective at preventing transmission of COVID-19 to a contact or preventing transmission of COVID-19 from a case. Masks work alongside other measures to protect students and staff.

The Government is providing 10 million child masks for Terms 3 and 4 and continues to make adult-sized masks available to schools for staff and older students.

These masks allow you to support those students unable to provide their own masks and are in addition to the 24 million adult-sized masks and nearly 4 million child masks already provided to schools this year. We have plentiful stocks of adult masks and some supply of child-sized masks if schools need to order more.

Reviewing your mask policies and instituting mask wearing indoors

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education strongly recommend that all schools and kura amend their mask policy for the first four weeks of Term 3 to require mask wearing in all indoors for students Year 4 and above, where it will not have a significant impact on teaching and learning.

Examples of situations where mask wearing may not be practicable include:

  • while eating and drinking
  • playing certain musical instruments
  • playing indoor sport
  • singing or drama performance on stage and PE.

In these situations, particular attention should be paid to ensuring good ventilation, and physical distancing where practicable.

This approach attempts to balance the benefits of mask wearing with the primary purpose of school’s education across curriculum areas and ensure students with particular learning needs that may be hindered by mask wearing are considered.

Next steps

You will need time to communicate this change with parents, caregivers and whānau. In this case, we recommend that you do so as soon as practicable in Term 3 and leave the change in place until Friday 19 August.

We will advise whether it may be necessary to extend the mask policy beyond the first four weeks of Term 3. 

Templates: Advice on mask wearing

To support communicating any decision, we have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and produced an information sheet that can be used in your newsletter and we have prepared a template letter that can also be used.

Information sheet: Advice on mask wearing for staff [DOCX, 20.3 KB] 

Letter template: Advice on mask wearing for parents and whānau [DOCX, 15.7 KB]  

Letter template: Advice on mask wearing for parent and whānau - te reo Māori [DOCX, 18.1 KB]

How effective are masks against the spread of COVID-19?

Wearing masks can significantly reduce new cases of COVID-19 and works alongside other measures including:

  • vaccination
  • good ventilation
  • staying at home when feeling sick
  • washing your hands
  • thorough hygiene measures, to protect students and staff.  

For information on how to slow the spread of COVID-19 and stay safe:

Keep up healthy habits – Unite Against COVID-19

How to order masks

More information on how to order masks can be found on Te Mahau.

How to order masks – Te Mahau

Any masks ordered now will be delivered as soon as possible – updates will be provided in the School Bulletin and on our website.

Information on mask delivery

If you are waiting for masks ordered before the school break, these will be delivered at the start of Term 3. If you have not received this order by the end of the first week of Term 3, contact askus.procurement@education.govt.nz.

If you ordered masks after the school term break, these would take longer to be delivered. We will provide an update in later bulletins and on our website. Note that delivery times may be impacted by courier disruption. 

If you order masks to cover both Term 3 and 4, you will receive an initial delivery for Term 3.

You can find more information on mask supply on our website:

Mask supply – Te Mahau

Mask exemption

A new mask exemption process was implemented in early June 2022 and will still apply if you change your mask policy. Information on this can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Who does not need to wear a face mask – Unite Against COVID-19

Mask enforcement

For any child or young person who is failing to comply with the school policy (who is not exempted), you will be able to apply or agree your own school policies to manage this behaviour, in the same way you might enforce sun hat and sunblock rules and uniform rules. 

Challenges due to COVID-19 and winter illnesses

We know many schools and kura are facing staffing challenges due to COVID-19 and winter illness. The go-to solution of bringing in relievers to cover for absence may not currently be an option, due to high demand.

You are best placed to make operational decisions about your school or kura. If you are unable to operate safely due to staff shortages, we acknowledge you may need to move to offsite or hybrid learning. 

Please reach out to your local Te Mahau office to talk through your options.

Local Te Mahau offices – Ministry of Education

If you or staff members would benefit from additional support, free EAP counselling services and wellbeing modules available:

EAP counselling services – Te Mahau

Gold Star wellbeing modules – EAP Services

Additional resources to support good ventilation

From the start of Term 3 we will be distributing a set of additional resources to schools.

All schools will receive a pack of classroom posters and supporting material. These will help your school to maintain good ventilation while staying warm and allow you to get the most out of CO2 monitoring and air cleaner devices.

Most schools will also receive an additional distribution of portable CO2 monitors and air cleaners at no cost to the school. The quantity you will receive will be based on the number of devices that each school already has, and your school roll. Any additional CO2 monitors will be included in the packs sent, and any additional air cleaners will be delivered separately soon after.

These distributions will be automatic. You do not need to make requests or complete forms for these resources and devices. You will also still be able to request additional devices, following initial distribution.

A reminder that the one-off supplementary energy payment will be paid to schools within the next week. Schools are also able to receive additional support including funding for urgent ventilation property improvements over $5,000.

Supplementary energy payment– School Bulletin 30 June 2022

You can discuss your needs with your Te Mahau property advisor or contact the ventilation team on ventilation.mailbox@education.govt.nz for additional support.