Last updated: 12:15pm Tuesday 31 March
Further information for boards and principals
The links on this page will take you to the relevant NZSTA or Ministry of Education website or other information. You may need to scroll down the page to find the content you are looking for. Topics are provided in alphabetical order.
From Midnight Wednesday 25th March New Zealand has moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 for a period of 4 weeks. People are instructed to stay at home unless they are working in an essential business (essential workers).
From midnight on Wednesday 25th all teachers will work from home and will not be able to access the school site. The Ministry will be working over the next few weeks to provide support for distance learning.
Access to school
Wednesday 25th March was the last day to visit your school to get any items you need to carry on board business from home. The school premises will be locked down after that time.
The Secretary for Education can have discretion under the following circumstances:
a. securing the site
b. Access to IT servers
c. Essential Contractors in the event of damage at a school
d. Removing fire hazards
e. use of schools site for health purposes relating to COVID-19
If an occasion comes up when you think you need to do this, please contact your local Director and they will get back to you.
In these cases only one person can go onto the site. They must stick to the rules around physical distancing (i.e; 2m from anybody) and good hygiene and they must do so only when absolutely necessary.
Those of you with animals on your school’s site that were not able to be relocated – of course animal welfare is important and they must be fed and watered. (See Access to School)
- If students are unwell (whether or not their illness relates to COVID-19) they should stay at home. Students who are not unwell should continue to attend school. (MOE 17 March 2020)
- Board meetings should continue, using online platforms during the Level 4 Alert. See
- NZSTA COVID-19 FAQ’s page for general advice on how to do this
- Board meetings and board resolutions via electronic means (NZSTA Governance support resource) for more technical information about electronic meetings.
Camps, assemblies and other events
Children with special needs
- Ministry staff will be available to ring and Skype with families who require assistance with children who have special needs.
- COVID-19: Information for disabled people and their family and whānau
- Alert Level 3 and 4 information for people and families who need health and disability support services
- Information for home and community support service workers
Circles of care: Self-isolating groups
The intent of forming this group beyond an immediate household (“bubble”) is to be able to provide necessary support for people who rely on support from others (eg, elderly people living alone, families who need support with caring for children).
- In forming this group, everyone in it must understand how crucial it is to keep it tight and to an absolute minimum number of people.
- Even in a small group people must take care of themselves and others through good hygiene including thorough handwashing and drying, good coughing and sneezing etiquette and physical distancing.
- Circles of care / self-isolating groups don’t need to be registered.
- An example could be where an essential worker who is required to work, can have their child cared for by a trusted buddy, as long as they are not elderly or vulnerable. That buddy and the buddy’s own household will need to be included as part of that self-isolating group. However, it is critical that the buddy and their household cannot then have any other external contacts. As soon as a member of that household has contact with another person (and therefore their household) they all need to be incorporated into the self-isolating group.
Another example could be helping a family with care for their disabled child to give the primary carers some time to rest. But again, you need to be identified as part of their self-isolated group and you cannot have any other contacts other than those in your own household.
Communication with children about COVID-19
Communication with the community
These resources may help you develop your communication with your local school community
- Ministry of Education - Pitopito Korero
- Information for Parents and caregivers COVID-19 website
- COVID-19 - information in other languages
- Looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19
Contacting the Ministry of Education
- If you have specific questions please continue to connect with your usual contact points (eg Education Payroll, property adviser) including Ministry regional office contacts - http://education.govt.nz/our-work/contact-us/regional-ministry-contacts/
- Bulletins will be ongoing throughout the coming weeks and all previous Bulletins can be found here - http://education.govt.nz/school/ministry-bulletin-for-school-leaders-he-pitopito-korero/
Employment and staffing
- Boards should continue to pay all staff the same number of hours as they would if the school was operating as usual. This applies to all staff, including non-teaching staff with variable hours, and day relievers who you use.
- Sick and domestic leave should be provided where a staff member or their dependant/s get sick. Refer here for more information: http://www.education.govt.nz/school/health-safety-and-wellbeing/student-and-staff-health/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/information-for-staffing-provisions/
- Staff who have the care of dependant/s should be provided with discretionary paid leave.
- Each staff member’s requirements will be different and your principal should discuss with each person how much they are able to work and how much leave they require.
- Staffing provisions and travel (MOE, 17 March 2020)
- Employees concerned about exposure and spread of COVID-19 – Employment New Zealand
- COVID-19 workplace response - Employment New Zealand
High risk individuals
While the majority of people who are confirmed with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms, some individuals are at risk of more severe symptoms.
Older people, particularly those with pre-existing health problems are more likely to get severe illness and are therefore considered at risk. High risk individuals also include people with underlying medical conditions, such as:
• a compromised immune system
• liver disease
• kidney disease
• heart disease
• diabetes mellitus
Further information is available at:
Home-based supervision and care for the children (aged 0-14 years) of essential workers
The Government has agreed that three large home-based providers (Barnardos, Edubase and PORSE) will provide additional support to essential service workers, where workers are not able to make their own arrangements. These providers have national coverage.
The level of demand from essential service workers is not yet clear and officials are exploring all options to make sure that essential service workers can do the important work necessary. In particular they are working with the wider network of home based providers to identify additional carers in areas of high demand.
Essential workers should still continue to contact one of the following three providers if they have been unable to make their own arrangements:
- Barnardos - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Edubase - Home Grown Kids & Kids at Home 0508 44 54 37 or email@example.com
- PORSE 0800 023 456
Many of you will have international students who are in Homestay or Hostel accommodation. Please continue to house and support those students.
Internet and Devices for Students
Ministry staff are working with principals to identify the numbers and locations of students who don’t have access to digital devices and/or the internet, including any specific requirements of device type (Windows laptop or Chromebook) that are necessary for students to work with your school’s e-learning software.
Some schools have already released school owned devices or obtained additional equipment directly. To meet remaining requirements the Ministry intends to ship a device directly to a student’s lockdown address, on a school by school basis as stock becomes available. As shipping and courier services are severely restricted, it may not be possible to arrange for the device and internet to arrive at the same time, however they will endeavour to co-ordinate this as much as possible.
Further work is underway to provide a default set of e-learning technologies for those schools not already set up to do this. As a minimum this will include some form of video conferencing ability, and online content & resources. More information about this will be provided when available.
Internet data caps
In addition to Spark, Vodafone, Vocus/Slingshot, and 2Degrees, Trustpower has now also advised they have removed their data caps and the possibility of any extra charges based on usage.
Many schools have already implemented tailored distance learning programmes and / or provided take home packs for students with learning support needs.
Ministry of Education learning support staff remain available to help during the lockdown period. Ministry staff will work with Resource Teachers to check in with the needs of the families and children and adapt support to meet current needs. Ministry staff continue to work with the adults in the child’s life to embed supports into the child’s daily routines. This may include ongoing coaching conversations with parents to help them adjust actions and plans and celebrate successes.
Helping school staff identify and respond to learning support needs
Many schools and kura are already using learning support registers to identify their students’ learning support needs and possible responses. In term 2, the Ministry’s service managers and RTLB will be available to work with SENCOs or Learning Support Coordinators to review your school’s register and help make connections with skills and expertise in your wider learning support cluster and access support from other agencies.
Learning Support Resources
There are many online resources already available. The Inclusive Education website has 28 guides to help recognise, plan for and meet the learning and wellbeing needs of diverse learners at https://www.inclusive.tki.org.nz/
Information that may be useful for teachers supporting students and families with learning at home can be found at https://conversation.education.govt.nz/learning-support-coordinators. Topics include supporting students with dyslexia and partnering with parents and whānau.
Ministry staff will add to these resources as new information is available.
Positive behaviour for learning
PB4L School-wide practitioners will be working in different ways to support schools including managing online learning and school-led learning in the home. All scheduled PB4L-SW trainings and cluster meetings this term have been cancelled and a SW Practitioner will make contact in due course to follow up. There is a Positive Behaviour for Learning Facebook page for practitioners and PB4L-SW school Coaches to share resources, strategies, ask questions and for national updates.
Ministry of Health
- Latest news items
- COVID-19 information
- Up-to-date information about current cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.
You need to ensure that in all circumstances payroll can continue to be processed each fortnight.
- Set-up as many people as possible on autopay. This will ensure payments continue to be made if you are unable to process a fortnightly pay run.
- If you have day relief teachers who work in your school on a regular basis set them up on autopay for the number of days they usually work. These should include any day relievers that you would have expected to book in for the rest of the term if the school had not closed to students today and the term dates had not been moved. You should use COVID-19 as the leave reason when loading this in Novopay OnLine.
- Move your non-teaching staff this fortnight to autopay. If you enter a timesheet for these staff identify how many hours you would have expected these staff to work each week for the remainder of term 1 2020 if your school had been open as usual. Use this to set up regular autopaid hours.
- Fixed term agreements will continue to end on the date agreed in your fixed term letter of offer and as set up in Novopay. In order to minimise disruption to payments to staff these should not be adjusted for the early end to Term 1.
- You should re-engage staff now for Term 2, using the new term starting date of 15 April (16 April for Southland) as it may be difficult to access the payroll over the coming weeks.
- Any additional cost incurred as a result of the change in term dates for staff who have been loaded on autopay, will be funded centrally.
- Check that you will be able to process the fortnightly pay.
- Ensure that, where possible, there are at least three authorised users who can process the fortnightly pay in Novopay and/or Ed Pay. Ideally these people will have had experience in running the pay at least once. If you need to set up a new authorised user please send an instruction to EDPay on a Novo5 form. Usually the Novo5 form requires a Board signature however, in these circumstances this can be omitted if required and added at a later date.
- Ensure you are able to run the pay if you can’t get into the school office because your school is closed. Test the remote access arrangements from the location that your payroll administrators will be working.
- Contacting Education Payroll
Please don’t ring Education Payroll as in line with New Zealand's COVID-19 response, the Education Payroll team is now working from home. They are still here for you and can help via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
- support with your Emergency Management Plan and Pandemic Plan (MOE 17 March 2020)
- The Ministry of Health’s Medical Officers of Health are your key external contact in a pandemic event. Local District Health Board contacts – Ministry of Health
Property - school construction projects
- If you currently have an active construction project, contact your external project manager to arrange the suspension of this work. Your MoE property advisor is available to support you
- You have until midnight, Wednesday 25th March to ensure the site is safe, tidy and secure. This includes where possible contractors removing their tools and valuable materials from site
- Where possible any unprotected works that can be, should be reasonably protected. The Ministry will cover the cost of all reasonable works you need to do to protect the site.
- Your MoE Property Advisor will be in contact with you over the next few weeks
- Further advice will follow in due course on resolving contractual and commercial issues with our contractors and consultants.
Repatriation of international students
We are aware that a few countries might look to repatriate their citizens by making special flights and have been in contact with students directly via email.
A government team is being set up to manage this situation and provide updates as soon as these are available. This would include agreeing on domestic transport for getting students to the airport if they were confirmed on a flight. There are a number of public health implications that are being looked at in terms of the ability to enforce social distancing at airports should these flights take place.
If repatriation flights do go ahead then there are likely to be a number of flights available in coming days and weeks so students should not feel panicked or pressured to make the first available flight.
Students should remain with their homestay or accommodation providers and not attempt any travel to Auckland or Christchurch until this situation is clarified in the coming days.
Residential special schools
Please continue to house and support those students who are not able to safely return home.
After Wednesday 25th no school transport will operate as schools will be closed until further notice.
School holidays are being brought forward so that they are completed within the 4 week period. At the end of the school holidays, schools will be open for distance learning but not physically open for staff to work at the schools.
Please note the instruction to stay home (Alert Level 4) will continue beyond the new school holiday period but schools will be providing distance instruction when Term 2 starts. Teachers will be working offsite.
School term dates
26 March Alert Level 4 commenced
28 March School holidays begin
10 – 14 April Easter including the Tuesday after Easter
15 April Term 2 begins (through distance learning)
22 April Current date for ending of lockdown period
27 April ANZAC Day observed
For students who are not able to go home please make arrangements for them to be cared for in the hostel. Host families may be required for international students.
You will need to consider available staff, and others you may be able to call on to cover supervision and other essential services. If you have staff who are included in the vulnerable category and therefore are struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels, the Ministry is able to provide funding to support additional relief staffing to help keep your hostel open. Please contact the Resourcing Contact Centre at email@example.com about how to apply.
Secretary for Education new powers
The Secretary for Education has been given new powers, in response to COVID-19, to issue binding directions to all education providers, including all schools, early learning services, and tertiary institutions, whether public, private or integrated.
The proposed new powers are contained in the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill, part of which amends the Education Act 1989 to give the Secretary these powers. More information on the Bill can be found here.
These powers include the ability to direct providers to open or close, vary their hours and how they operate, and how they are controlled or managed. The powers include the ability to direct education providers to provide education in specified ways, such as through distance or online learning.
The decision to give these powers to the Secretary for Education was taken after very careful consideration. It is being done to ensure a unified and coordinated educational response to the COVID-19 outbreak and to enable the Government and the Ministry to act quickly in the best interests of educators, parents and whānau when required.
Schools, kura, early learning services, kohanga, and tertiary institutions have been doing great work on behalf of their learners in response to COVID-19. These powers will only be used when absolutely necessary for the purpose of avoiding, remedying or mitigating the actual or potential effects of the outbreak, and to facilitate co-ordinated processes and planning in response to the outbreak.
Self-Isolation: Ministry of Health advice
- What does self-isolation mean?
- Advice for unwell people
- Things you can do to make it easier
- If you live with children
- Limiting contact with others you are living with
- Don’t have visitors in your home
- Financial support
- Temporary accommodation for self-isolation
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 like a cough, fever, shortness of breath, sneezing or a runny nose, you should call your doctor. If you do not have a regular doctor, you can call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453. If you are in need of urgent assistance, contact emergency services (dial 111).
Supporting learning at home
The Ministry is asking teachers to put together small packs for their students. And to ensure tehy have passwords and access to the online tools they need.
The Ministry has launched two new websites Learning from home and Ki te Ao Mārama to support teachers, learners, parents and whānau so that learning for children and young people can continue.The websites include resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders. Resources span the learning pathway from early learning through to senior secondary, and more resources will be added as they’re developed. Hard copy packs are being prepared for learners and whānau who don’t have connectivity at home.
Ministry staff are working to establish online learning and distance learning options to support all children’s ongoing learning. These will be made available by the end of the school holidays.
Travel for work
- Refer to safetravel.govt.nz for the most up to date information
Wellbeing for all
The Ministry of Education has provided more information focused on wellbeing and supporting a child’s learning at home for parents, caregivers and whānau. It may also be useful for teachers. This resource adds to the information the Ministry has previously provided for supporting conversations with children about COVID-19.
Further information to support wellbeing
The Ministry of Health’s website includes Top ways to look after your mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown.
https://www.iamhope.org.nz/ - I AM HOPE is the youth and community focused support group run by The Key to Life Charitable Trust, started by Mike King.
https://www.facebook.com/nathanwallisxfactoreducation/ - Nathan Wallis has some helpful videos on his Facebook page for parents and whānau
https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/covid-19/ - tips on looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 from the Mental Health foundation
https://depression.org.nz/covid-19/ - a website by the Health Promotion Agency to help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression and anxiety. `
25 Mental Health Wellness Tips during Quarantine from Eileen M Feliciano, Psy.D. – although overseas-based this is a good list and highlights some things particularly important for children. Remember the rules of New Zealand’s level 4 lockdown still apply.
Work in progress
Ministry staff are also developing tip sheets to support parents to navigate common challenges they may have with toddlers, children and young people through this time – for example, a tip sheet on getting a good night’s sleep.
If you have any ideas for wellbeing and learning at home resources and tip sheets that would help others please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the Learning Support Enquiries line at 0800 622 222.
Remember, be kind to yourself and others.