tertiary and international covid-19 bulletin

Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
24 February 2022

24 February 2022
tertiary and international covid-19 bulletin

Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin

24 February 2022

COVID-19 Protection Framework settings

All of New Zealand is at Red.

Moving to Phase 3

New Zealand will move to Phase 3 of the Omicron Response at 11.59pm Thursday 24 February as announced earlier today by the Minister for COVID-19 Response, the Hon Chris Hipkins.

Our response to Omicron – Unite against COVID-19

This bulletin sets out key information on what Phase 3 will mean for the tertiary sector.

Things are moving rapidly, and the tertiary toolkit and guidance for managing self-isolation in tertiary accommodation have not yet been updated. 

In the meantime, you can rely on what is set out in this bulletin.

The Ministry of Health has provided the detail for ‘Managing COVID-19 under Phase 3 within the tertiary sector’ and we are working with the Ministry to update our more detailed guidance and hope to release this soon.  

Note that in Phase 3 only household contacts of a case must isolate. All other contacts should continue to monitor for symptoms. If any arise, they should stay home and get a test.

If you need any clarification, please contact COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.

Managing COVID-19 under Phase 3 within the tertiary sector

There is now widespread community transmission of Omicron in Aotearoa New Zealand.

As a result, COVID-19 cases in tertiary education and accommodation facilities are increasing rapidly, as well as across the community. The requirements to self-isolate are having significant effects on the tertiary education sector and the learning experience of individual cases and contacts, as well as wider society. 

Phase 3 approach to contact tracing

In considering the risk of transmission in the tertiary sector, along with the current public health measures in place and the wider context of the Omicron Strategy, a reduced model for contact tracing for tertiary providers will be adopted.

In Phase 3, the tertiary sector will need to rely on their community to manage their risk and the risk to those around them. There is no longer a requirement for tertiary providers to undertake close contact identification when there is a case in their community. However, they may choose to do so using the guidance that has already been provided. 

While there is no legal requirement for close contacts to isolate during Phase 3 of the Omicron Strategy, tertiary education settings should still do their best to mitigate risk to other students or staff members as much as possible.

Key actions for education settings

  • As in earlier phases of the Omicron response, the way that tertiary education providers will find out that there has been a positive case in their setting, is if the positive case tells them they have been on site during their infectious period. A key change is that public health units and the National Case Investigation Service will not formally notify tertiary education providers when a case has been there during their infectious period.
  • The main action for providers is to communicate with their community that there have been positive cases in the setting, and to provide general advice to those that may be at higher risk of disease. 
  • Providers may also choose to undertake some close contact identification, particularly if they are aware of any higher-risk situations within their community. The existing guidance can be used to undertake a risk assessment and identify close contacts.  
  • This risk assessment can include discussions within the provider about particularly high-risk exposures, areas of concern or staff or students who are at risk of severe disease.
  • If close contacts have been identified, providers can advise them in line with Phase 3 advice for close contacts (monitor for symptoms for 10 days). Individuals and their communities can then make decisions based on their circumstances.
  • If providers do choose to undertake any Close Contact identification, the existing guidance on contact categorisation in the tertiary toolkit can be used. 

COVID-19 case and contact management: Tertiary education – Ministry of Education

Advice for tertiary providers and students – Te Mahau

Key Information for cases and contacts in Phase 3


If you have COVID-19

If you are a household contact

If you are a close contact (outside of the household)

  • You will be notified by text. If you do not have a mobile number, you will receive a call.
  • You will be asked to complete an online COVID-19 contact tracing form if possible.
  • If you can’t do this, we will call you to complete this over the phone. 
  • Cases are advised to notify your household, workplace and/or education setting.
  • You should also let your close contacts know you have tested positive. These are people you spent time within close vicinity when not wearing a mask (for example, your partner or close friends).
  • You will need to self-isolate at home for 10 days from when you got tested or when your symptoms started.
  • Avoid contact with other household members to the greatest extent possible during your isolation period.
  • Wear a mask and physically distance in shared spaces during your isolation.
  • You can end your self-isolation after 10 days, provided you are not symptomatic – you may receive a text message confirming the end of your isolation. You do not need to wait for an official message or release to leave isolation.
  • You may be notified that you are a household contact by a person that you live with who has COVID-19 or by text. 
  • If you live with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19 (a confirmed case), you need to self-isolate:
    • from the day that the case receives their positive test result (or is notified as probable) 
    • until the case completes their 10 days of self-isolation. 
  • You need to get a RAT on Day 3 and Day 10 of the case’s (person with COVID-19) isolation period, and a test if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms. You will be advised how to access free RATs.
  • If any of these tests return a positive result, you are a ‘case’ and need to isolate for 10 days from either the day of symptom onset or the day you get a positive result.
  • Avoid or minimise contact with the person with COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible during your isolation at home.
  • You can end your self-isolation on the same day as the (first) person with COVID-19 in the household, provided all of your tests were negative including your day 10 test.
  • If you have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19, that person may notify you directly. 
  • You may also hear about this contact via your employer or tertiary provider.
  • You do not need to isolate.
  • You do not need to test. 
  • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days.
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms and if this is a PCR test, stay at home until you get a negative result.

In addition to these guidelines, stay home if you're feeling unwell. If cases remain unwell, they should seek additional health advice.

For more information about what to do if you are a case or contact and for information about the support available in the different phases, please visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Our response to Omicron – Unite against COVID-19

Other key points for Phase 3

  • Locations of interests will no longer be published.
  • Scanning in using the COVID Tracer App will continue to be important as it will be a digital diary for a case to remember where they have been and advise any people they may have been with or places they may have been.
  • Bluetooth notifications will still be used.

Transitional arrangements for close contacts isolating prior to 25 February

People who are currently self-isolating as close contacts and are not household contacts can stop isolating and return to onsite activities from tomorrow Friday 25 February if they are asymptomatic.

They are not required to produce a negative test result.

Identifying household close contacts within tertiary accommodation

There may already be confirmed COVID-19 cases (referred to as a confirmed case) self-isolating within your tertiary accommodation.

We acknowledge that there are many different kinds of tertiary accommodation, and that determining who a case’s household hontacts are will differ case by case. 

We are working with the Ministry of Health to get updated guidance to you. In the meantime, tertiary providers and accommodation providers should work together with the confirmed case to identify who within their facility are considered household contacts. 

Not all residents who shared a bathroom or kitchen facility with a confirmed case would necessarily be considered a household contact at Phase 3. It will depend on their interactions with the confirmed case and whether the case was wearing a mask at that time.

Household contacts could include:

  • roommates who sleep in the same room as the case in a hall of residence
  • students who live in a ‘flatlet’-type arrangement with separate bedrooms but have shared living spaces with the case.

Hardship fund for learners still available

The hardship fund for learners (HAFL) is still available with funding that runs until the end of June 2022.

The HAFL helps tertiary education organisations (TEOs) provide temporary financial assistance for currently enrolled tertiary learners facing ongoing hardship due to COVID-19. TEOs should consider their learner’s hardship needs and apply for this funding if appropriate.

The funding can be used to cover learner’s essential and ancillary living costs (such as food, utilities, rent, university accommodation, medical fees, transport and clothing) and technology support (such as hardware support, internet connection and software subscriptions).

The allocation of the funding is through an application-based process that assesses how the TEO identifies learners most in need. This ensures funding is prioritised to support these learners.

Applications remain open and can be downloaded on the Tertiary Education Commission's funding and payments page.

Hardship fund for learners – Tertiary Education Commission

Completed applications should be emailed to customerservice@tec.govt.nz with the subject line: [Your Edumis] – Hardship fund application.

Verification of learner identity and extramural delivery update

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has updated its FAQs on verification of learner identity and extramural delivery for student achievement component (SAC), youth guarantee (YG), adult and community education (ACE) and literacy funds.

TEOs can now use digital methods to verify a learner’s identity document under all settings. In response to COVID-19 restrictions on face-to-face teaching, the TEC allows providers to deliver SAC, YG, ACE and literacy fund education and training online to unvaccinated learners. 

For more information, visit TEC's website.

COVID-19 TEC updates – Tertiary Education Commission

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.

Be prepared for COVID-19 – Unite against COVID-19

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.
Travel at Red – Unite against COVID-19

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.

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