Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
11 February 2022
Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
COVID-19 Protection Framework settings
All of New Zealand is at Red.
Case and contact management approach now live
The new approach to case and contact management in the tertiary sector outlined in the toolkit and step-by-step guide went live on 8 February.
We would like to thank those of you who have been engaging with us, TEC and NZQA already as we work through this new process. Education is one of the first sectors to follow this new approach, so your insights have been invaluable.
As a reminder, the toolkit and step by step guide are available on our website.
For any queries on the new case and contact management process, please continue to contact your single point of contact (SPOC):
For tertiary education institutions, contact TEC: email@example.com
For private training establishments, contact NZQA: SPOC@nzqa.govt.nz
Contact tracing upload tool
Tertiary providers will use the Ministry of Health’s contact tracing upload tool (CTUT) to upload contact details of people who are contacts of a COVID-19 case.
You will be contacted by public health if you are required to use the tool.
The Ministry of Health has a guide to using the CTUT on its website.
The spreadsheet template that is required to be uploaded to CTUT is also online (and you can find the below link at page 22 of the tertiary public health toolkit).
Provider communications on case and contact management
Providers may be contacted by a positive case before the public health unit or SPOC has been in touch with you directly.
We encourage you to provide clear communications to staff and students on how they should contact you if they test positive for COVID-19.
The sooner providers learn of a case, the sooner case management processes can be initiated to help ensure COVID-19 transmission in your community can be minimised.
Provider obligations: Key principles to keep in mind
We have received several queries about providers’ obligations with respect to case and contact management.
While case and contact management is not a legal requirement for tertiary education providers under the COVID-19 Protection Framework Order, this is a new government approach that will be rolled out across all parts of the economy as part of the three-phase approach to Omicron.
Identifying and notifying close contacts in your community will help to lower the risk of COVID cases spreading rapidly on site. This is also part of providers’ health and safety obligations, and their obligations under the code of pastoral care for tertiary and international students, including those students in student accommodation.
However, we understand that tertiary providers may need to take a pragmatic response to case and contact management at the later stages of the outbreak, reprioritising resources as necessary to best support the safety and wellbeing of their staff and student community as a whole.
Providers and SPOCs will be under increased pressure as Omicron spreads throughout our community. The time frames in the toolkit and step-by-step guide are best practice as suggested by the Ministry of Health, but we understand that when the outbreak spreads, time frames may need to be adjusted.
Tertiary providers have done an excellent job of supporting their communities throughout the pandemic, and we trust you will continue to do the best possible job under the circumstances.
Asymptomatic testing for student accommodation residents
We’ve become aware that some student accommodation providers are requiring students to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.
The Ministry of Health is not recommending or requiring widespread asymptomatic surveillance testing.
This testing sits outside the Ministry of Health’s publicly funded testing, which means that students will be charged to be tested (or refused testing) for asymptomatic surveillance testing.
Currently Health will only fund testing for:
- people with symptoms of COVID-19
- close contacts of cases
- people that were at a location of interest at the same time as a case
- people directed by the Medical Officer of Health to be tested
- border workers
- asymptomatic, unvaccinated people requiring a negative test for domestic travel
- asymptomatic, unvaccinated people attending a court of law.
The Ministry of Health discourages tertiary accommodation providers from implementing move-in testing at this time unless they have procured their own rapid antigen tests.
The Ministry of Health’s guidance for student accommodation will be released next week.
Close contact exemption scheme
Yesterday the Government announced the details of a new close contact exemption scheme that aims to keep critical supply chains running.
From today, businesses and organisations can register online as a critical service if they think they will meet the criteria when the country enters Phase 2 of the plan for Omicron.
Critical services include food production and its supply chain; key public services like health and emergency services; lifeline utilities such as power and water supplies, transport, critical financial services, news media, social welfare; and human and animal health and welfare.
It is up to businesses to self-assess if they meet the criteria for being critical and decide if they want to participate in the scheme. In doing so, there needs to be an awareness that bringing close contacts into the workplace will come with associated risks.
More information on how the close contact exemption scheme will operate can be found at the links below.
Reconnecting NZ: Update for the international sector
The Government has updated its next steps for reconnecting New Zealand, with self-isolation for most travellers rather than managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) in 2022.
International students who have been nominated under the first three border class exceptions for international students will be classified as eligible travellers under Step 2, from 11:59pm on Sunday 13 March 2022.
From 11.59pm on Tuesday 12 April 2022, visa processing will be open for the recently announced border exception class for up to 5000 international students who are intended to begin arriving from July onwards. The details and criteria for the cohort have yet to be confirmed and education providers will be updated with this information shortly when the allocation of places across the sector has been determined.
International students who are currently in New Zealand and who have a valid visa with multiple entry conditions can go home at any time from now to visit their friends and family and return here after 11:59pm on Tuesday 12 April 2022.
Please see Immigration NZ’s website for more details.
General visa processing for students opens in Step 5. From October 2022, the border will be open for any international students, and all visa categories will fully reopen. This means that international students currently offshore cannot yet apply for student visas (apart from students who have been contacted by their education providers to enter New Zealand through a border exception class).
You can find the most recent updates on border exceptions at the links below.
Email address for queries
All tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries can be emailed to us through our central mailbox COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.