COVID-19: Latest news and updates 

Last updated: Thursday 2nd July 2020 at 2.00pm

Here's the latest news and updates from NZSTA. We're still available for you to contact us directly with your queries

We are at Alert Level 1

New Zealand is now at Alert Level 1, as of Tuesday 9 June.

Home Learning | Papa Kāinga TV ends Friday 3 July 

Home Learning | Papa Kāinga TV ends its run on TVNZ on Friday 3 July.
The televised lessons and programmes for children and young people aged 2 to 15 years are available to watch on TVNZ OnDemand. There is a wealth of educational content aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum – so MoE encourages teachers to make use of the content and the associated lesson plans and other resources available from the Learning from Home website.

MoE is looking at ways to bring the two together and curating them in different ways so they are easily accessible to teachers, kaiako and whānau.

CLARIFICATION of 2020 school year half day

In the 4 June school bulletin MoE advised that the 2020 school year has been reduced by four half days to allow schools to maintain the same end of year date they had prior to the COVID lockdown.

The shifting of the Term 1 holidays meant that Term 2 included an additional statutory holiday. This, combined with the teacher only day on Tuesday 28 April, meant you would have needed to increase the length of Term 4 to meet the original required number of half days. As the intent was not to extend the school year, the number of required half days has been reduced to account for the public holiday and the additional teacher only day.

This change does not mean schools can close four half days earlier in Term 4. It has been made for administrative purposes only to allow schools to keep their original term dates.

COVID-19: Confirmed, probable or possible cases linked to your school

If there is a confirmed case in your school

While unlikely at Alert Level 1, if there was a confirmed or probable case linked with your school or early learning service, you would be advised of that by the Medical Officer of Health or your local public health authority (or local Ministry of Education staff working in conjunction with local health authorities).

MoE regional staff will work with you and local health authorities to agree a plan. That will happen quickly and support will be provided to assist you to communicate with and support your community and staff.

If you become aware of a case associated with your school or early learning service and haven’t received notification from health authorities, please contact your local public health unit or your local Ministry of Education contact for information and support. Local health authorities through the Medical Officer of Health will make the decision about whether a school or service needs to close for a period of time, and will determine who is required to undertake self-isolation.

Who needs to stay away?

Unless directed by the Medical Officer of Health, the only people who need to stay away are those who are: unwell, self-isolating (at the request of health authorities) or waiting for COVID test results. Everyone else should be at school.

Anyone who is a contact of a ‘close contact’ is not required to self-isolate. Close contacts are self-isolating as a precaution only, and will monitor for symptoms. For example - a staff member who had close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 will be asked by health authorities to self-isolate for 14 days from when they last had contact with the confirmed case. Their family members and other close contacts of the staff member are not required to self-isolate unless they have also had close contact with a confirmed case.

July Roll Return

The July Roll Return is coming up, please start preparing now.

The July Roll Return count date is Wednesday 1 July. Please ensure completed returns are sent to the Ministry no later than Wednesday 8 July.
Please note that due to the way school holidays have fallen this year, the return is due in the first week of these holidays. You may want to generate and submit your return prior to the due date – remember returns can be submitted from the July 1st.
Refer to the 2020 School Roll Return Guidelines for more information on completing your return. Please send the Ministry of Education file from your student management system. Schools not using an SMS should complete the excel template provided on the Education Counts website.
COVID-19 – potential impacts on July roll return
We are aware that COVID-19 may have had an impact on student attendance and engagement, and subsequently your July 2020 roll return. Supporting you to locate and return children and young people back to schools and kura is our priority right now.
We use the July Roll Return information for funding, and for a range of statistical and reporting purposes. We expect the 1 July Roll Return data won’t be typical for many of you and we anticipate the need to make some adjustments to ensure schools are funded fairly and appropriately in 2021. 
For any new students who may have delayed starting, we have resourcing options for roll increases outside of the roll return process. Boards can apply for extraordinary roll growth funding if their actual roll significantly exceeds their funding roll. Applications can be sent to the Resourcing Division by Friday, 20 November 2020.
If you have any questions, you can email

School Donations Scheme 2021
This is a reminder that decile 1-7 state and state-integrated schools submitting their July 2020 roll returns will be prompted to confirm if they are choosing to opt in to the donations scheme for 2021. The opt-in process has been aligned with the July roll return, as this is the roll on which the donations scheme funding is calculated. If you have any further questions regarding the donations scheme, you can contact our team on (04) 463 8383 or at
For more information on how the Donations Scheme response has been added to the July Roll Return process please refer to page 15 of the School Roll Return Guidelines.
Supplementary Questions Survey
Principals will be sent a link to the web form to be used to complete the Predicted Roll and Supplementary Question part of the July Roll Return. This link is personalised for each school; please do not share it with others. If you have not received this link by Wednesday 1 July, please check it has not gone into your junk mail box or email:

UPDATE - Operating school construction projects during COVID-19 Alert Level 1

Our priority is to continue keeping workers and the wider community healthy and safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19 under Alert Level 1.
We expect everyone managing construction sites on behalf of the Ministry or schools to continue to apply the guidance provided in the document New Zealand COVID-19 Construction Protocols.
The development of the protocols has been led by SiteSafe, Civil Contractors New Zealand, and industry leaders. These organisations have collaborated with field experts from within industry to develop healthy and safe protocols for all who work in and around the construction sector while under COVID-19 alert levels. You can view the Protocols on the CHASNZ website.
School property advisors will work with project managers on school-led projects before they start to ensure they understand the requirements.

ERO reviews under COVID-19

The ERO will not be restarting individual school education reviews and reporting until later in the year. However, in the next few weeks, ERO will be contacting schools that are due to be reviewed to establish an approach that collects information for national and regional reporting about:

  • The strategies put in place to contribute to learner success and re-engagement in education
  • The actions they are taking in response to the COVID-19 context
  • Support they have found useful and what they may need going forward
  • The short-term challenges and solutions they are finding
  • Their innovations and successes to date.

ERO will use the information gathered to inform the system, and to share good practice. Their focus will be on leadership, wellbeing and learning, and how schools are managing to support educational equity. Alongside their discussions with school personnel, they are undertaking regular surveys to gather additional information from teachers and learners.

The board’s role in student attendance and engagement

The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown a spotlight on issues that might previously have received less attention, including that of enrolled students not attending school. In this article, we consider how school boards can play their part in a holistic approach to strengthen student engagement.

Why, apart from our legal obligations under the Education Act, should non-attendance be of such concern to school boards?

Students need to be present and engaged at school in order to learn.

What are the most common causes of non-attendance?

The answer to this is vast and varied. Each board of trustees will notice that some causes listed here are of significant relevance to their school while others are not. Other boards will be able to identify causes that are not listed at all, the important thing is to recognise and take action to mitigate any barriers that prevent students fully engaging in school life.

  • Transience
  • Victimisation – bullying or racism
  • Needed to help at home
  • At work
  • Avoidance - finding schoolwork difficult but not comfortable to ask for help
  • Unable to envisage the value of education
  • Pure truancy – something better to do
  • Sense of belonging – feeling that their needs as students are not being met

How can the board help?

Sometimes it is hard for us to restrict ourselves to the realms of governance and not stray into pastoral care or student management. Nonetheless, the board has a critical role in setting goals, expectations and the culture of the school. As trustees we can:

  • Ask for data on the underlying reasons for non-attendance – we can only address the problem once we have identified it
  • Survey students and their families around how welcome, safe and supported they feel at school*
  • Seek input from the school’s wider community as appropriate – this could be local hapū, iwi, church
  • Ask for data on the impact of non-attendance on student progress and achievement – ensuring that data are anonymised. This would form part of the board’s reporting to its community on the overall progress of the school
  • Set strategic goals and expectations
  • Ask details of strategies and programmes being deployed – this might include details of how the school uses attendance services
  • Monitor the effect of these strategies and programmes and how effective they are
  • Use your students as Subject Matter Experts – this is about them, they are the experts

 Other considerations:

  • Is your board truly representative of the make up of your community – do you hear the perspective of all groups in your school whānau?
  • Build on new communication channels forged during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Keep the door open – ensure that parents know it is safe to share their concerns with the school
  • Is your school database accurate – do you have current contact details for all families? If not, how does the school contact parents if students are absent from school without explanation?
  • Keep informed - reverse your ‘line of sight’ – from the classroom up to the board table

Useful resources: 

Community engagement

This is the third article in a series about what boards might expect and do during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week we are going to consider the board’s role in community engagement 

COVID-19 has presented us with an opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with the families and whānau who make up our school community. Never before have we asked parents and caregivers to work so closely with us to ensure that there is as little as possible disruption to their children’s education. Let’s put that new-found engagement to good use at governance level too.

As we all know, the school board is made up of trustees who are at the board table to bring the perspective of the particular group which either elected or appointed them. We have the mandate to act and decide on behalf of those who put that trust in us.

However, it would be wise for us not to ‘go it alone’ but to seek guidance from those people. Now, more than ever, as parents place the safety and wellbeing of their children back into our hands, the concepts of inclusivity and transparency seem all the more important. We need to let our communities know what we are doing and – remembering that engagement is a two-way street - give them a chance to comment on and help mold our thinking and actions.

What have we done so far?

In a previous article NZSTA made some suggestions around board communications to the school’s community. We suggested that your board might like to:

  • Thank your community for its support and on-going efforts during this difficult time
  • Anticipate and create ongoing good will and collaboration
  • Include an expression of gratitude and support to principal, leadership teams, teaching staff, cleaning staff etc
  • Acknowledge the board’s responsibilities and accountabilities. Give assurance that board continues to monitor progress towards strategic and annual goals
  • Outline what has been achieved so far this year and what might need to be reprioritised as the year progresses
  • Advise any limitations that board has had to put in place during COVID-19, for example limitations to parent activity on school site e.g. drop off/pick up
  • Remind your community of its rights to access open board meetings and their minutes and how this can be done
  • Celebrate successes.

If you haven’t already sent a communication from the board, do. It’s never too late.

What’s next?

Now that we have started the conversation, let’s keep it going. Consider:

  • What feedback did the board receive to that initial communication?
  • What have we done as a result?
    • Is there any ‘follow up’ that needs to be added to the agenda of the next board meeting (certainly it should feature as board correspondence)?
  • How do we let the community know what we have done?

We might also like to take this opportunity, while we have our community’s attention (and we certainly have that at the moment) to kick-start some housekeeping projects that would benefit from (or even require) community input. How about:

  • A review of our Health and Safety policy
  • A review of our (or even the writing of a new) Pandemic Response policy and planning
  • Seeking opinion on the school’s commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • A review of our statement of delivery of health curriculum.

This might be an ideal time to establish some delegated board committees which could comprise some members of the school community to form a ‘steering group’.

Remember, these are nervous times. People like to feel that they are empowered – help them to help you guide the school.

The most important thing to remember is that communication with the board must be easy. This might be via:

  • A generic board email address such as
  • A portal on the school website
  • A suggestions drop box in the school office – although you might like to wait until COVID-19 is sorted before you put that in place

For professional development around community engagement

As NZSTA is currently unable to deliver face to face workshops, for more information please go to the NZSTA Knowledge Hub where you will find both a video and the workshop resource for Community Engagement, concerns and complaints. Following this video, you will be able to attend a Zoom meeting where you can engage in discussion about the activities provided during the video and learn alongside others, with the assistance of your facilitator. You can register your attendance at these Zoom meetings which will be advertised on the NZSTA Knowledge Hub and Eventbrite, just like our regular workshops.

What to do if students appear to have symptoms of COVID-19 at school

You do not have a right to take student temperatures as a matter of course which may result in preventing their attendance at school. Taking temperatures is not part of the public health requirements for COVID-19. Someone who has a fever looks unwell. You don’t have to take their temperature to suspect they have a fever.

As noted in the health and safety guidance school staff are to observe students on arrival into the classroom checking for symptoms and ask those presenting as unwell to go home (or arrange for parents and caregivers to come and pick up).

Symptoms to monitor for are any respiratory symptoms such as a cold, a head cold, blocked ears, cough, sneezing, chills and a fever. Anyone with those symptoms should be isolated and contact Healthline for advice, which may include getting tested for COVID-19. A principal can ask a student to not attend school if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease, which includes COVID-19.

What do I do if someone is sick but won’t go home?

If you are the principal of a state school, you can preclude a student who you believe on reasonable grounds may have a communicable disease (Section 19 Education Act). The student has to stay away for the infectious period of the specific disease.

Only medical experts have the ability to determine if the signs of illness presented in staff and students is influenza, early stages of measles, the COVID-19 or some other illness which has similar symptoms. However, presenting symptoms along with any relevant information such as close contact with someone diagnosed with illness or recently travelling in a region known to carry risk of infection, should inform your decision about the application of Section 19. You must inform the Medical Officer of Health, the student’s parents and your school Board of Trustees if you take action under Section 19. View the MOE guide for more information.

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