Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
15 February 2022
Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
COVID-19 Protection Framework settings
All of New Zealand is at Red.
Move to Phase 2 of Omicron plan
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealand will move to Phase 2 of Omicron plan tonight at 11.59pm, 15 February.
The country will stay in Phase 2 as long as daily cases remain between 1,000 and 5,000 cases. The move to Phase 2 means the self-isolation period for cases reduces from 14 days to 10 days, and for close contacts from 10 days to seven days.
The Unite against COVID-19 website provides information and resources for the different phases.
Phase 2 also means the start of the test-to-return-to-work close contacts exemption scheme. This allows critical workers who are close contacts to return to work if they return daily rapid antigen tests. Some workers in the tertiary education sector – for example, at student accommodation – will be critical workers for the purposes of this scheme.
Providers can find more information on how to register as a critical service on MBIE's business website.
Student accommodation guidance
The Ministry of Health is developing guidance for tertiary education providers and tertiary student accommodation providers in the event residential students or staff members test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact and how they can safely self-isolate.
It will also provide proactive steps that can be taken to ensure the facility is safe for others living there.
Tertiary accommodation providers have established excellent processes to support learner wellbeing and manage COVID-19 risk so far in their facilities. This guidance is intended to support providers’ ongoing efforts towards protecting their resident communities, in the context of the COVID-19 Protection Framework and in light of the Omicron variant.
The new student accommodation guidance will replace the student accommodation guidance on contact categorisation and self-isolation of case and contacts in the public health toolkit for tertiary providers.
This guidance is going through final sign out in Health, and we will issue another bulletin as soon as it is available. We understand this should be no later than close of play Thursday.
In the meantime, we can share some of the key principles for managing COVID-19 in student accommodation:
Case management plans
Student accommodation providers should develop detailed case management plans to protect the health and safety of staff and residents from COVID-19 and provide information on these plans to staff, residents and families.
These plans should address additional health, disability and wider wellbeing needs identified for individual residents as part of the provider’s existing proactive monitoring of wellbeing and safety.
Infection prevention measures
Student accommodation providers should implement robust infection prevention measures to minimise risk should a case of COVID-19 arise.
Student accommodation providers should familiarise themselves with the contact categorisation criteria and seek to minimise instances of close contact within accommodation, especially when COVID-19 risk is high.
When there are cases or close contacts at the facility, cases or close contacts who wish to self-isolate off site are encouraged to do so.
This can be done so long as their alternative accommodation is suitable for self-isolation and they are able to access it in line with the transportation rules (no overnight or inter-island travel or public transport).
Where cases or close contacts self-isolate at the facility:
- cases who are self-isolating should be separated as much as is practicable from others, including close contacts, but may self-isolate with other cases if their symptoms allow
- close contacts who are self-isolating should be separated as much as is practicable from others, but may self-isolate with other close contacts
- additional infection prevention measures (for example, restricting contact between bubbles) should be implemented to minimise transmission risk.
Clear communication plans
Tertiary education providers should communicate to their current and prospective residents and their families the particular challenges of COVID-19 within student accommodation (and their consequences).
This should include, if relevant, the possibility of sharing a bathroom with a case, isolation periods for residents if they become close contacts, and that they will not be allowed to undertake inter-island or overnight travel to go home if they are a case or close contact.
Protecting residents’ overall wellbeing continues to be providers’ number one priority.
- Providers should support cases to ensure their health and welfare needs are met. If symptoms worsen, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
- If providers have reasons to believe that COVID-related measures are seriously threatening the overall wellbeing and safety of a student, they should act as appropriate to protect that student’s overall wellbeing.
Case and contact management: Contact tracing upload tool
Providers will receive a link to the contact tracing upload tool (CTUT) from public health.
Once an exposure event has been generated following the online case investigation, the exposure event will be followed up by public health. Contact tracers will generate a link for contacts associated with the event to be uploaded, and the link will be sent from CTUT to the tertiary provider.
We are working with Ministry of Health on a contact list for providers so that the CTUT link is sent to the correct person. Please ensure that your SPOCs have the most up-to-date contact details for your organisation.
Be prepared for COVID-19
Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone should prepare for what they need to do if they get COVID-19.
The Unite against COVID-19 website has resources to help you.
Travelling and COVID-19
While vaccination is highly effective, it is still possible to get COVID-19.
You may get it while you are away from home, even if you are following the rules. You should prepare for what you may need to do if this happens.
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.