The following information relates to governance and employment issues faced by Boards as a result of COVID-19:
Has the board’s role changed because of COVID-19?
No, the board’s role is still governing the school. The principal still has responsibility for operational matters. The only thing that may change for some schools is that the Secretary for Education now has temporary emergency powers including the power to:
- Direct a school to open or close, or vary their hours
- Direct how they operate, and how they are controlled or managed
- Direct education providers to provide education in specified ways, such as through distance or online learning
These powers will only be used when absolutely necessary in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Board meetings: If your regular face-to-face board meetings are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, you can still hold your meeting electronically. Find out more here.
There is also a module on the NZSTA Knowledge Hub which provides some helpful tips on e-meeting platforms and etiquette.
Suspension meetings can be held remotely, the same as any other board meeting. Please note:
- The board must ensure that the student and their family/support people can attend the first part of the meeting electronically – being able to hear and speak simultaneously, the same as the board members
- Everyone must have received the paperwork, including the principal’s report and the suspension letter at least 48 hours prior to the suspension meeting
- The 7 school/10 calendar day timeline still applies to the board having to make a decision within a specified period.
The COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act amended the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Extra measures were put in place around the public attending open board meetings.
Staffing issues: For detailed information in relation to managing staffing, please refer to https://www.education.govt.nz/covid-19/advice-for-schoolskura/managing-staff-leave-during-covid-19/
School construction projects: At Alert Levels 2 and 3 all school construction projects can continue as long as the health and safety protocols are adhered to.
MoE will contact project managers and main contractors for Ministry-led projects. When school boards lead a building project they must ensure contractors are following the New Zealand COVID-19 Construction Protocols. MoE provides guidance on the protocols that includes a COVID-19 checklist for contractors to complete and verify their arrangements. It’s expected that all contractors on all school property projects apply the guidance.
Before any work starts, boards should receive a copy of the contractor’s COVID-19 plan and completed Ministry’s COVID-19 checklist from their project manager.