Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
31 March 2022
Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
COVID-19 Protection Framework settings
All of New Zealand is at Red (Phase 3).
Our bulletins set out key information on changes to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and what this means for the tertiary sector.
We are working to update our more detailed guidance. In the meantime, please rely on what is set out in this bulletin.
If you need any clarification, please contact COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.
Updated vaccination guidance for workplaces
As outlined in our 24 March bulletin, effective from 11:59pm Monday 4 April there will no longer be a government vaccination requirement for staff, students or visitors to go on site at a tertiary education premises at Red.
Employers (including tertiary providers) may still be able to maintain vaccination requirements where they continue to be supported by an updated workplace health and safety risk assessment but the reason will need to be specific to their role and set of circumstances.
Employment New Zealand (part of MBIE) and WorkSafe have updated their advice to support workplaces to manage COVID-19, including assessing whether employer vaccination requirements are necessary.
Key messages for employers (including tertiary providers) are as follows.
- New Zealand now has high vaccination rates and reduced risk of reinfection for those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.
- Employer vaccination requirements should be used carefully, based on public health advice and in line with providers’ normal responsibilities. They are not a suitable first response for managing COVID-19 in most workplaces.
- Employers are encouraged to complete a risk assessment or review their existing risk assessment as New Zealand progresses through the current COVID-19 outbreak.
- The public health justification for requiring vaccination is when the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 at work is higher than it is in the community. This is the basis on which some Government vaccination mandates have been retained. Employers may also consider other risk factors that are relevant and justifiable in respect of their workplace(s).
- Outside of those sectors which continue to be covered by government vaccine mandates (such as Health), WorkSafe considers that few workplaces will be able to justify an employer vaccination requirement for health and safety or public health reasons. For those who can, this would likely be only for specific roles.
- In deciding what controls to implement, employers will need to consider what is reasonably practicable. Employers should first consider the controls that are least intrusive to employees before requiring vaccinations.
- However, as with seasonal flu and other vaccinations, employers can and should encourage workers to get their COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters.
- Employers are expected to follow public health guidance when carrying out a risk assessment, to engage with workers and their representatives and regularly review the risk assessment as the situation changes. Where an employer can demonstrate it has done this, it is unlikely WorkSafe will take enforcement action, even if it disagrees with the decisions an employer has made in its risk assessment. WorkSafe will instead take an educative approach.
This updated guidance can be found on WorkSafe and Employment NZ websites.
Given changes to public health advice, the vaccination assessment tool is currently being reviewed.
Further information on the tool can be found here:
Requiring My Vaccine Passes for students and visitors
From 11.59pm Monday 4 April, the use of My Vaccine Passes (MVP) will no longer be required by the Government.
Some businesses, events or venues may choose to continue to require MVPs as a condition of entry to their premises. The MVP infrastructure will therefore be maintained.
If tertiary providers had developed their own restrictions (beyond those of government) based on a health and safety risk assessment which required students or visitors to hold a MVP, they are encouraged to review those conditions to reflect updated public health advice. They would need to be able to justify any continuation of MVPs with their normal responsibilities (for example contractual relationships with students and the tertiary and international Code of Practice).
It is important that providers work with their staff, students and representative organisations when identifying health and safety risks and how these will be managed. The tertiary community is likely to want to understand if holding a MVP is required as a condition of entry and, if so, why this is the case.
Further information can be found on the Business NZ website.
Update on the border exception for international students
Immigration NZ will begin accepting student nominations from providers on 13 April 2022.
The allocations of the 1,450 university places for border exceptions for international students have been agreed.
Te Pūkenga is completing an internal process to allocate its 700 places. Education agencies have collaborated to assess applications and allocate places to individual providers in the English-language schools (ELS), private training establishments (PTE) and school sub-sectors.
All providers who met the criteria outlined in the Implementation Framework received an allocation of places.
Further information on the border class exception for 5,000 international students can be found on our website.
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.