COVID-19: Advice for boards


Last updated: Tuesday 19 May 2020 at 10.30am. 

We are at Alert Level 2

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 May.

On Monday 18 May, all schools, early learning services, and tertiary institutions reopened onsite under Alert Level 2.  

Key points for board of trustees

  • Your principal continues to receive advice from the Ministry of Education about operating the school. 
  • Take things one day at a time. Dealing with today’s issues effectively puts you in a good position to deal with tomorrow’s issues tomorrow.
  • Your principal is in charge of all operational decisions about how to manage the risks associated with COVID-19 in your school.
  • Your principal is also the key point of contact (the “face and voice of the school”) for anything relating to COVID-19 in your school.

Please note: The Secretary for Education now has temporary powers to direct schools to open and close, direct how they operate, are controlled, and managed, and direct them to provide education in specified ways, for example through distance or online learning. 

Key responsibilities of the board 

The board’s key responsibilities in this situation are to

  • Continue to deal with the business of governing your school. Some aspects of your school’s response to the current pandemic will be determined by the government through the Ministry of Education but the overall responsibility for governing your school remains with the board of trustees. 
  • Complete your financial statements as soon as possible. The Secretary has announced that schools will not be penalised if they are unable to submit their annual financial statements, or complete their audits on time however you should continue to progress this work as quickly as you can.
  • Work closely with your principal to ensure that your students and staff have what they need to continue teaching and learning. 
  • Keep yourselves fully informed about current developments so you are ready and able to act promptly and effectively when required.
  • Respond promptly to any requests or recommendations from your principal or from Ministry officials.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with your school’s policies and processes and that they remain up-to-date and fit for purpose, and are well understood by your school community.
  • Confirm that the necessary written delegations are in place and documented in your board minutes. (See the school delegations list template on Part A: Annually updated of the governance framework 2018).

Key things the board can do

  • Continue to provide support (moral and practical) for your principal.
  • Work with your principal to ensure your school community continues to receive useful and relevant information about COVID-19 and the steps your school is taking to minimise the risk of it spreading.
  • Work with your principal to ensure your pandemic plan is updated as often as necessary to keep it relevant and fit for purpose. Download the Ministry of Education’s Pandemic Planning Guide (full guide) for more information.
  • Monitor the Ministry of Education website regularly for updates
  • Confirm with your principal that arrangements have been put in place
    • For students with pre-existing medical conditions
    • For ORS students or others with specific learning needs.

NZSTA is still open for business

NZSTA staff are now working from home and are still available to provide NZSTA’s regular support and advice services, except for on-site visits. Please contact us by phone on 0800 782 435 or by email.

We will continue to update this page as further information becomes available.

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© 2018 New Zealand School Trustees Association