COVID-19 Tertiary Bulletin

COVID-19 Tertiary Bulletin

Last updated 26 November 2021
Last updated 26 November 2021

Tertiary Provider and International Bulletin

COVID-19 Alert Level settings

The Auckland region continues to remain at Alert Level 3, Step 2, and the remainder of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2.

 

Decisions on COVID-19 Protection Framework settings

On Monday 22 November, the Prime Minister announced all of New Zealand will transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (the ‘traffic light system’) at 11.59pm on 2 December 2021.

Next week on Monday 29 November, Cabinet will determine which COVID-19 Protection Framework settings that different parts of the country will move into. It has already been decided Auckland will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework at Red, and nowhere in the country will start at Green.

 

COVID-19 Protection Framework guidelines for tertiary and international sector

Today, we published our preliminary guidance and Q+As for tertiary providers operating under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework.

COVID-19 Protection Framework: tertiary education providers – Education in New Zealand

Resources for tertiary education providers – Education in New Zealand

We will finalise this guidance once the legislation bringing the COVID-19 Protection Framework into force is in place next week.  

This high-level guidance is intended to assist providers to develop protocols and policies, in consultation with students, staff, and relevant representative bodies, on how they will operate at each setting of the Framework.

We recommend tertiary education providers work with their staff, students, and communities to make plans for how to operate under, and transition between, each setting of the Framework. Providers should ensure there are appropriate information-sharing pathways and necessary wellbeing and safety supports for staff and students in place. Once decided, providers should inform staff and students of their plans.

 

Vaccination date requirements for tertiary at Red

On Tuesday 23 November, the Government confirmed the settings for staff where My Vaccine Pass requirements may apply under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Under these settings, staff (including volunteers and contractors) can only be onsite at tertiary providers at Red if they are vaccinated.

For tertiary providers in regions that will move to Red when the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into force, staff onsite will need to:

  • have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to continue working onsite from 3 December, and
  • have received both doses of the vaccine by 17 January 2022.

Students and visitors can only be onsite at a tertiary provider at Red from 3 December if they are fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and have a valid My Vaccine Pass.

Tertiary providers can find more information on how to collect, store and use staff and student vaccination verification information in our Q+As on the Ministry of Education website.

For tertiary providers in regions that will move to Orange, in the COVID-19 Protection Framework, there is no vaccination requirement for staff, students or visitors onsite. We will provide further information shortly on the implications that any future move to Red will have for staff vaccination once the Order has been finalised.

 

NZ Pass Verifier app release

The Ministry of Health has released its NZ Pass Verifier app for businesses and organisations to prepare for the shift to the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Some providers may want to use the app to verify students’ vaccine passes. More information on how to download the app can be found on the Ministry of Health website. You can find more information on collecting, storing and using verification information from vaccine passes in our Q+A on the Ministry of Education website.

 

New vaccine assessment tool in development

On Tuesday 23 November, the Government announced new legislation to guide decisions on workplace vaccination requirements.

For businesses and organisations where a Government vaccine mandate is not in place, the law will include a vaccination assessment tool that employers can follow when deciding whether they can require vaccination for different types of work. This risk assessment will build on workplace vaccination guidance already provided by WorkSafe. It will be optional to use the tool, and these changes will not override any risk assessments that have already been done.

For more information, see the Employment New Zealand and business.govt.nz websites.

 

Reconnecting New Zealand – the next steps

On Wednesday 24 November, Minister Hipkins announced that fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) from 11.59pm on 16 January 2022. From 30 April 2022 onwards, the Government will remove the requirement for MIQ for most travellers, including foreign nationals, using a staged approach.

There will be still be requirements for travellers who do not have to go into MIQ, including a requirement to self-isolate for 7 days. More information on the requirements for travelling to New Zealand when the borders re-open more widely can be found on COVID19.govt.nz.

 

‘My Vaccine Pass’ update for International students

On 17 November, the Ministry of Health released the My Vaccine Pass.

This pass is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use within Aotearoa New Zealand. It will allow you access to certain events and venues operating under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system), which all of New Zealand will be entering into from 11:59pm 2 December. You can find more information about the traffic light system, and where you will be required to show your My Vaccine Pass on COVID19.govt.nz.

Please see the following information that will assist international students over the age of 12 to access their My Vaccine Pass.

International students have three options to apply for their My Vaccine Pass:

Option 1: Apply using a verified RealMe account:

  • A verified RealMe account is different to an ordinary RealMe account that may have been used to register for courses or for immigration purposes.
  • Ensure to get your RealMe account verified, BEFORE registering for an account on the My Covid Record website.

Option 2:  Call 0800 222 478

Operators will verify your identity via verbal verification. You will likely be required to provide:

  • your full name, email address, mobile number
  • you may be asked to provide passport or other verification ID information, so be sure to have these available when you call.

Call centres now have extended hours, and are currently open from 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

Option 3: Apply via a participating Pharmacy:

Participating pharmacies will be able to help you request and print your My Vaccine Pass

  • Make sure you have your NHI number with you
  • A list of participating pharmacies can be found on the Healthpoint website.
  • Your My Vaccine Pass can also now be mailed to your residential address.

For students who have received overseas vaccines, these will need to be loaded into the COVID Immunisation Register (CIR) before a pass can be generated. Information on CIR application and requirements can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

NZ has approved 23 overseas vaccines that allow for entry into the country, however only 8 vaccines are listed under NZ ‘Fully Vaccinated’ definitions which will allow you to receive a My Vaccine Pass.

If you have received a vaccine that does not fall under the 8 vaccinations that are required for a ‘My Vaccine Pass’, these will need to be registered and loaded into the CIR (see bullet above). The process will take around 14 days, and applications can be made now. Note that this process does not guarantee that you will be recognised as fully vaccinated in New Zealand.

Further advice can be found on the Ministry of Health – COVID-19 vaccines website.

 

Email address for all tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries

A central mailbox has been set-up for all queries related to COVID-19 - COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz. We have introduced this email address to ensure there is a central point of contact that we can monitor. We will use this email address to send out future bulletins, also.

We will continue to meet with the sector regularly.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website

Please continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website. 

For resources in Te Reo Māori, visit https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/translations/te-reo-maori/

For information to support Pacific communities, visit https://www.facebook.com/MinistryforPacificPeoples/

Resources in sign language and easy read formats

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit Immigration NZ's website.

Advice for international students in NZ https://naumainz.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz/help-and-advice/healthcare/covid-19-what-you-need-to-know

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website. 

Update: 18 November 2021: COVID-19 Update

Today’s bulletin provides information for TEOs to start planning for how to operate in the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

COVID-19 Alert Levels

Waikato areas Alert Level setting

Areas of the Waikato region at Alert Level 3, Step 2 (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas) have moved to Alert Level 2, as at 11.59pm Tuesday 16 November.

Auckland Alert Level setting

The Auckland region continues to remain at Alert Level 3, Step 2. These settings will be reviewed on Monday 22 November.

The rest of New Zealand outside of Auckland remains at Alert Level 2.

On Wednesday 17 November, the Prime Minister announced that the Auckland border will reopen from December 15. People travelling out of Auckland will have to be either fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. This requirement will be in place for the core summer period of December 15, 2021, to January 17, 2022.  

The Prime Minister also announced that Cabinet will confirm on November 29 the date that Auckland will move to the Red level in the new traffic light framework. The rest of the country will move to the new framework at the same time as Auckland, and we can expect that regions with low vaccination rates will move to the Red level, and others will move to the Orange level.

Minor change to detailed guidelines on exams

In our changes to our guidelines relating to exams last week, we omitted to remove one requirement. It is no longer the case that on-site examinations are only allowed where it has not been possible to deliver teaching online.

In addition, we have received advice from Public Health on exam invigilators. Where they are fully vaccinated and masked, exam invigilators may invigilate sequential exam sessions that may be over a number of days or weeks. This is an acceptable level of risk in a structured environment where contact tracing is relatively easy. This is a narrow exception to our guidance that TEO staff members stay with the same bubble.

We have changed our online Alert Level 3 guidelines to reflect these changes.

Preparing for the COVID-19 Protection Framework: Red level

The COVID-19 Protection Framework introduces a new flexible 3-level approach to managing COVID-19 in the community. As we have noted in previous bulletins, under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, tertiary education will be:

  • Open at Green
  • Open with public health measures in place at Orange
  • Open with a vaccination requirement for onsite delivery at Red.

We will provide guidance on how TEOs should prepare for each level next week. Beyond the formal vaccination and capacity limit requirements at Red, it will be up to TEOs to undertake their own risk assessment and decision-making in relation to their campus, in consultation with students and staff.

In the meantime, all TEOs should inform staff and students that they will need to be fully vaccinated to be onsite at Red. TEOs will also need to start making preparations for verifying vaccination information.

We will provide more information on vaccination verification and record-keeping requirements in relation to staff vaccination following decisions on MBIE’s workplace vaccination framework, and expectations for staff vaccination under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. We note that staff and student vaccination verification processes may be different: My Vaccine Passes that will be used for student vaccination verification (discussed further below) may not be appropriate for staff.

My Vaccine Pass

My Vaccine Pass is an official record of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status, providing access to places within New Zealand that require proof of vaccination under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. People are now able to access their My Vaccine Pass.

Once you are fully vaccinated, you can sign up to My Covid Record to see your vaccination status and request a pass. Your My Vaccine Pass will include your name, date of birth and a QR code. You can save this pass on a digital device, like your phone, or print a physical copy. 

If someone has a temporary medical exemption, you can call 0800 222 478 to request a My Vaccine Pass – note you may be asked a few questions to confirm your identity such as your name and date of birth.

A process is being established to record COVID vaccinations administered overseas in the New Zealand Covid Immunisation Register. We can record all 23 vaccines that are approved as per the New Zealand entry requirements. You must apply for this information to be included in your records, this will take up to 14 days and people will need to provide proof of the vaccines and dates administered so they can be entered into the COVID-19 Immunisation Register.

While all 23 vaccines can be recorded, these do not mean that you will be eligible for the My Vaccine Pass. At this stage, from the week of 26 November, there are 8 approved vaccines that can be used as proof of vaccine status when applying for My Vaccine Pass.

They are:

  1. Pfizer/BioNTech
  2. Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
  3. AstraZeneca (Oxford)
  4. AstraZeneca/Covishield (Serum Institute of India)
  5. Moderna
  6. Sinopharm
  7. Sinovac (CoronaVac)
  8. Covaxin (Bharat Biotech)

When a TEO can’t request proof of vaccination onsite at TEOs

Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, Ministers have agreed that there are certain settings where denying entry on the basis of vaccination status will be prohibited. Where vaccine requirements are prohibited, a place/service/PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking – as defined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015) cannot limit the kind of service provided to patrons based on their vaccination status (e.g. making unvaccinated customers use the self-checkout counters only).

Ministers have agreed that some settings are prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination (either via My Vaccine Pass (previously referred to as COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates) or other tool) as condition of entry, use or access. Several of these settings will be relevant to tertiary providers. For completeness, we have listed them all below:

Education

  • All licensed early childhood education services and registered schools (i.e. all primary and secondary schools, including private providers) for all children, students and their parents, whānau or caregivers
  • All school hostels
  • All school transport services, for all students
  • All OSCAR programmes
  • For secondary students at tertiary education organisations to access their learning

Public Transport

Note that access to public transport is necessary to ensure access to life-preserving services:

  • All public transport (buses, trains, ferries, taxis/ubers, rental vehicles etc), apart from air travel, is prohibited from vaccination requirements
  • All air travel includes small commercial operators (e.g. Sounds Air, Air Chathams)

Housing

Use of vaccination requirements to restrict access to housing is prohibited for all housing and housing support services funded directly by, or under contract to, the following state sector agencies:

  • Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities
  • Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
  • Ara Poutama Aotearoa – Department of Corrections; and
  • Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children

In addition to the above, Ministers agree to introduce a prohibition on vaccine requirements for premises used to provide emergency housing.

Other life-preserving services

  • All supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies and petrol stations will be prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination from customers as a condition of entry/access

Health and disability services

  • The use of vaccination requirements will be prohibited for all people accessing essential health and disability services. Examples of these include (but are not limited to):
    • Primary care services
    • Specialist clinics
    • Laboratories and imaging services
    • Public and private hospitals
    • Maternity care
    • Hospice services
    • Oral healthcare services
    • Mental Health care services
    • Ambulances and emergency care
    • Aged residential care services

These decisions will be reflected in an Order. Where relevant, they will form an exception to the Red level vaccination requirements and any additional vaccination requirements that TEOs may seek to impose onsite. We will provide more guidance on how TEOs can safely implement the secondary-tertiary student prohibition from vaccination requirements, in particular, in our guidance.

Student vaccination verification

My Vaccine Pass will be the only permitted way of verifying students’ vaccination status under the COVID-19 Protection Framework (as noted above, it may not be appropriate for staff, and we will provide more detail on vaccination verification for staff once MBIE has finalised its guidance for workplaces).

People will be able to store their My Vaccine Pass on their personal phone, or print it out. The Ministry of Health is building a free Verifier app that anyone will be able to access and use to verify a My Vaccine Pass. The verifier allows a person to check the My Vaccine Pass is valid and relates to the person presenting it.

We have previously had concerns about the workability and practicality of the My Vaccine Pass for TEOs, especially for larger tertiary providers. Some providers have asked whether it may be possible to verify staff and student vaccination status through data-matching student information with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Immunisation Record. At this stage, this is not possible.

Instead, providers will need to integrate vaccination verification processes into their student software systems using the My Vaccine Pass technical specifications. This would allow students to upload their My Vaccine Pass QR codes for digital verification. Alternatively, TEOs will be able to use the Ministry of Health’s Verifier App to scan students’ My Vaccine Passes in-person.

To facilitate digital verification, the Ministry of Health has recently made the technical specification and other documentation on its GitHub repository to facilitate this. A demonstration of a similar use case is available from MATTR as a video.

Following verification, storing the My Vaccine Pass itself will be prohibited. However, at this stage we understand that vaccination verification information (i.e. whether vaccination has been verified or the date) may be stored as part of students’ records, consistent with the Privacy Act 2020 obligations around the collection, storage, and use. It is important that TEOs explain why the information is being collected, what it will be used for (i.e. to comply with the relevant requirement), and importantly, what are the consequences if they do not provide the information. Ministers are expected to make final decisions on My Vaccine Pass soon, and we will update you on any implications that these may have for the tertiary sector as soon as we can.

TEOs that may have begun collecting information from students on their vaccination status already will also need to verify students’ vaccination status via My Vaccine Passes once this is available. We recommend that all TEOs start working now to consider how best to verify My Vaccine Passes. We also recommend that they inform students how they can access the MyCovidRecord platform. This information is available on the Unite Against Covid-19 website

Update: 9 November 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Levels

Auckland Alert Level setting

On Monday 8 November, the Prime Minister confirmed the decision for Auckland to shift down a step to Alert Level 3, Step 2, from 11.59pm tonight. These settings will be reviewed on Monday 15 November.

The Prime Minister also announced that there is a likelihood that Auckland will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework following Cabinet’s check in on 29 November. However, she stressed that all DHBs in the Auckland region need to hit the 90% double dose vaccination target to ensure high levels of protection from COVID-19.

Waikato areas Alert Level setting

Areas of the Waikato region are currently at Alert Level 3, Step 2 (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas) These settings will be reviewed on Monday 15 November.  

Northland area Alert Level setting

The northern parts of Northland currently at Alert Level 3 will move to Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Thursday 11 November.

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Waikato areas, Auckland and Northland areas remains at Alert Level 2.  

Effect of Alert Level changes on our detailed guidelines

We can now confirm that, at Alert Level 3, Step 2, bubble sizes can increase and physical distancing requirements in exam settings may decrease as follows: 

  • Tertiary staff/student bubble sizes can increase from 10 to 25 per class bubble, where remote delivery is not possible. Public health measures such as face coverings, physical distancing of 1m, and staying home if unwell should be followed.
  • TEOs may hold exams within bubbles of 25 with a physical distancing requirement of 1m, if face coverings are worn.

As we confirmed last week:

  • TEOs may operate their libraries in line with the rules for indoor public facilities (2m distancing, mandatory face coverings, contact tracing required). TEOs may choose to limit library access to staff and students only.

As a reminder, contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met should be collected. Where necessary, a staff member may leave a bubble and join a new staff/student bubble (for example, if a course has concluded and another one is to begin). Staff/student bubbles should not extend to gatherings in settings outside of TEO facilities and do not apply to, for example, study groups in private flats.  

Our detailed guidelines have been updated to reflect these changes.

Vaccination requirements for the tertiary sector and future guidance

We can confirm that the Government is not going to mandate vaccinations for attending on-site tertiary education beyond the requirements already announced for the Red level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework. The Red level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework requires students and staff attending onsite delivery to be vaccinated, with capacity based on 1 metre distancing.

Outside of the Red level (and other vaccination requirements – for example, on students intending to undertake placements in healthcare and teacher education), it is up to TEOs whether and how to impose additional vaccination requirements for students, considering all relevant factors. We note the complex environment TEOs need to make these decisions in, including TEOs’ human rights obligations, health and safety requirements, expectations for learner wellbeing and safety systems, contractual relationships with students, student enrolment entitlements, and equity considerations.

We are developing guidance for TEOs operating under the COVID-19 Protection framework and MBIE’s risk assessment framework. You can expect this guidance to be published in the week of 22 November.

Vaccination requirements for certain workforces and non-citizens entering New Zealand

There are separate lists for approved vaccinations for people who are non-citizens entering New Zealand (this will apply to international students) and approved vaccinations for  requirements that the Government has put in place for certain workforces. TEOs will need to be aware of this as they enrol international students into certain programmes with workforce vaccination requirements (such as teaching or health-related professions). The list of approved vaccinations to enter the country as a non-citizen can be found on the COVID-19 website, and the approved list for vaccination requirements for certain workforces can be found on the legislation.govt.nz website.

Update: 5 November 2021: COVID-19 Update

Today’s bulletin focusses on the common themes for queries we are receiving through our COVID-19 Tertiary Mailbox. Please do continue to send your questions through. 

Update on timeline for guidance for the new COVID-19 Protection Framework

We know tertiary education organisations and students are seeking further clarity about what the COVID-19 Protection Framework means for them – especially in Auckland, which is expected to move to the Framework first, in the coming weeks.

We are aiming to release interim guidance for TEOs and students in Auckland in the week of 15 November. This guidance will assist providers and students to plan and prepare for the transition from Alert Level 3 to the Red level.

At this stage, it is anticipated that the rest of the country will move to the Framework once the rest of the country’s DHBs have reached 90 percent vaccination rates, which is likely to be early next year.

We will release our final detailed guidelines for the COVID-19 Protection Framework at the end of November.

Update on guidance on opening libraries at Alert Level 3, Step 2  

We have updated our Tertiary guidelines to clarify that under Alert Level 3, Step 2, TEOs may operate their libraries in line with the rules for indoor public facilities (2m distancing, mandatory face coverings, contact tracing required). TEOs may choose to limit library access to student and staff only.

Early childhood education and schooling workforce mandate coverage

We have received several queries from the tertiary sector about the application of the early childhood education and schooling workforce mandate in the tertiary sector. Further work is being undertaken on vaccinations in the tertiary sector. In the table below, we set out in full how the vaccination requirements for the early childhood education and schooling workforce apply under the health order.

Type of role

Are they required to be vaccinated under
the Public Health Order?

Teachers, teacher aides, principals, administration staff, caretakers, cooks

Yes. These staff are required to be vaccinated as they may have contact with children or students and/or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Learning support staff and other education agency staff (for example, Ministry of Education and ERO staff, NZQA exam invigilators/supervisors) 

Yes. These staff are required to be vaccinated if they are visiting early learning services or schools to deliver a service that means they may have contact with children and students and/or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

School board members

The board member is required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Otherwise, they are not required to be vaccinated.
 
The board may want to consider a working arrangement that enables an unvaccinated board member to conduct business online and/or at a time that students will not be present (such as evening board meetings).

Hostel workers (whether paid or unpaid)

Yes. These workers are required to be vaccinated as they may have contact with children or students and/or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Individuals living on hostel or school grounds who are not workers

No. These individuals are not required to be vaccinated under the Order as they are not working or providing a service for the school/hostel.
 
(Note: For those non-workers living in hostel accommodation, the owner of a hostel under the Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005 has a responsibility to ensure that boarders do not come into contact with another person on the premises who is suffering from a disease or condition capable of being passed on to boarders and that is likely to cause them serious harm if passed on. This requirement should already be reflected in the hostel policies.)

Ministry-funded school transport drivers

Yes. Drivers of Ministry-funded school services are required to be vaccinated. This is because these people are carrying out work for an education service and they will have contact with children or students.

Bus drivers (general)

No. General transport workers such as public bus drivers (including dedicated school services funded by regional councils) or train conductors are not required to be vaccinated as they are not employed or engaged by a school or hostel.

Employees/volunteers of a contracted service attending onsite during times children or students are also present, including planned events and activities that may take place before or after normal hours
(for example, cleaners, tradespeople, nurses and health workers, staff engaged to deliver a programme or for a school event)

Yes. Employees of a contracted service physically attending a school or hostel site when children or students are also present are required to be vaccinated. 
 
This is because these people are carrying out work at or for a school or hostel and they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Employees/volunteers of organisations who provide a service on an education site (for example, the Life Education caravans, dental care, PLD providers, external Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme providers, social workers in schools)

Yes. Employees of a contracted service physically attending a school or hostel site when children or students are also present are required to be vaccinated.
 
This is because these people are carrying out work at or for a school or hostel and they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Employees of a contracted service attending onsite outside of school hours or when children or students are not present
(for example, weekend lawn-mowing service, tradespeople outside of school hours/hours of operation)

No. These staff are not required to be vaccinated. The work will not be occurring at a time when children or students are expected to be present. 

After-school care services/out-of-hours music contracted by the school

Yes. Employees of a contracted service physically attending a school site when children or students are also present are required to be vaccinated.

After-school care services/out-of-hours music run by a private company on site

No. These workers are not required to be vaccinated under this Health Order as they are not employed or engaged by a school. These after-school care providers may be covered by other requirements.

Parents, caregivers or volunteers at an education outside the classroom (EOTC), learning experiences outside the classroom (LEOTC) programme or excursion

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated because these people are carrying out work (unpaid) at or for a school or hostel and they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Employees or volunteers for providers of EOTC, LEOTC services or excursions which are offsite (for example, library, school camp, museum staff)

No. These workers (paid and unpaid) are not required to be vaccinated as they are not working “at” an education service or employed or engaged by the education service.
 
However, schools and kura are encouraged to check on the vaccination status of offsite activity providers as part of their COVID-19 health and safety assessments.

Parents/caregivers dropping off, picking up, or settling children at a school or kura

No. As the Order only applies to workers and volunteers, not people who are visiting the school.

Parents, caregivers and members of the community who are volunteers at the school, kura, or hostel

Yes. These people onsite are required to be vaccinated as they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

If the volunteer is working offsite and will not have any contact with children or students as part of their role, then they are not required to be vaccinated.

Parents or caregivers attending meetings or events on site (for example, parent-teacher interviews)

No. As the Order only applies to workers and volunteers, not people who are visiting the school or hostel. 

Teachers who only work with students remotely, and never see their students in person

No. These staff are not required to be vaccinated if they will not have contact with children or students.

People who provide an educational service off site at a marae (or another significant cultural site) and are not directly employed/contracted by the school or hostel

No. People who work or volunteer at the marae but are not employed or engaged by the school or hostel are not required to be vaccinated as they are not working “at or for” the school or hostel.

Employees/contractors/volunteers of a school who provide an educational service off site (for example, alternative education providers, activity centres, teen parent units)

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Attendance advisors/kaiāwhina who work with young people to support them back into learning

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students in the course of their work.

Employees/volunteers of an organisation that is not connected with the school but shares a building or campus (for example, churches, cafes)

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Student volunteers and students on placement

Yes. Those over the age of 12 are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Union representatives

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

General public using school facilities after hours (for example, playground, school pool)

No. The requirement to be vaccinated only applies to workers and volunteers.

Residential therapeutic and respite facilities that deliver onsite education for school aged children (for example, Oranga Tamariki youth justice and care and protection residences, remand homes and community-based homes)

Yes. These people carrying out work at or for an early learning service, school or hostel are required to be vaccinated as they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Residential facility operated by Oranga Tamariki, which includes onsite education for school aged children provided by a registered school (for example, Kingslea, Central Regional Health School)

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.

Unvaccinated person responding to an emergency on site (for example, burst water pipe, windows blown out)

We encourage schools to proactively engage with their regular tradespeople about their vaccination status to mitigate any possibility of unvaccinated peoples coming on to the school site in the case of an emergency.

Whānau who provide homestay accommodation for international or domestic students

Yes. The people the school contracts to provide the homestay accommodation service or boarding are required to be vaccinated. Otherwise, no.

Parents or caregivers coming into a playgroup that operates on a school site or site otherwise licensed for education and care (while other children are attending school or the early learning service)

Yes. They are required to be vaccinated if they are acting as a volunteer to support the child and they are present at a school site at a time when other children are present.

Parents or caregivers attending specialist early learning services with their children (for example, Champion Centre)

Yes. They are required to be vaccinated if they are acting as a volunteer to support the child and they are present at a school site at a time when other children are present.
 

Secondary-tertiary partnership providers

Yes. These people are required to be vaccinated if the service is provided onsite as they may have contact with children or students or will be present at a time when children and students are also present.
 
This requirement does not apply if the service is delivered offsite from a school or hostel.

 

Update: 3 November 2021: COVID-19 Update

 

COVID-19 Alert Levels

Waikato areas Alert Level setting

On Monday 1 November, the Prime Minister announced that the Waikato areas currently at Alert Level 3, Step 1 settings (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas) will shift down to Alert Level 3, Step 2 from 11.59pm Tuesday 2 November 2021. 

Auckland Alert Level setting

The Prime Minister also announced that Auckland will shift down a step to Alert Level 3, Step 2, from Tuesday 9 November 11.59pm. This decision has been made in principle and will be confirmed by Cabinet on Monday 8 November.

Northland area Alert Level setting

On Tuesday 2 November, Minister Hipkins announced that the northern parts of the Northland area would move to Alert Level 3 last night at 11.59pm. Cabinet will review this alert level setting on Monday 8 November.

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Waikato areas, Auckland and Northland areas remains at Alert Level 2.

Effect of Alert Level changes on our detailed guidelines

We are seeking advice from the Ministry of Health as to whether TEO libraries are able to open under Alert Level 3, Step 2, and hope to provide an update tomorrow. In the meantime, our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers for Alert Level 3 (now containing changes reflecting the rules for retrieving belongings from student accommodation outlined below) is current and can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

Following feedback from the sector, the maximum number of people who can be in a staff/student bubble for on-site delivery (where remote delivery is not possible) is being reviewed. If an increase in bubble size is approved, it is likely to take effect from 15 November. We will be able to confirm any decision the week beginning 8 November.

Travel guidance for students who need to retrieve their belongings from student accommodation

Students who left their student accommodation (for example, left Auckland when the country went into lockdown) and now wish to return to their accommodation to retrieve their belongings and return to another Alert Level area may do so. This applies to students in both Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 2 areas.

Students in Alert Level 2 areas wishing to travel to an Alert Level 3 area to retrieve their belongings, and return home again are able to do so because it is part of a permanent relocation of their home at the end of tertiary study, which is allowed under the current Alert Level guidance.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website outlines the evidence requirements for this travel on their website. Students who will need to leave Auckland as part of this retrieval process will need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test (or a medical certificate confirming you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test) with your test or medical examination undertaken no more than 72 hours prior to crossing the Alert Level boundary.

Those returning to student accommodation to retrieve their belongings are encouraged to contact their accommodation provider to make arrangements for collection in advance of doing so. Student accommodation providers will have processes in place to facilitate the safe re-entry of students into their premises for the purpose of collecting belongings.

The Alert Level guidance encourages student accommodation providers to put in place infection prevention measures including physical distancing, staggering students’ access to accommodation to collect belongings, and mask wearing.

Guidelines on student travel are now up to date and can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

Tertiary guidelines for the COVID-19 Protection Framework

We are continuing to engage with the sector as we develop these guidelines, and we continue to welcome your queries and suggestions. Send them through to COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz.

Be a doer! Karawhiua

We can be proud of what we’ve done to protect each other from COVID-19. Let’s not waste our hard mahi. You and your whānau can find trusted information on the Karawhiuia website so you can make an informed choice about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Karawhiua — Karawhiua - Protect Communities from COVID-19

Two shots for summer

Vaccination is our pass to unlock summer. Find where's close to get your dose on the Unite against COVID-19 — you can just walk in or drive through. Get 1 now. Get another in 3 weeks.

2 shots for summer | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Vaccination resources

You can access trusted information about vaccines, communications resources and conversation guides on the Unite against COVID-19 website.  If you have a specific request, please email us COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz

COVID-19 vaccines | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

NZ Vaccine Facts series: What else we can do to protect ourselves and others?

This episode of NZ Vaccine Facts explains the need to keep up with simple health behaviours to help us stay on top of outbreaks.

You can make use of each episode and the complete series to inform and encourage those still undecided or hesitant about the importance of getting vaccinated.

You can access all episodes through the COVID-19 Resource Toolkit and on YouTube.

Update: 27 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Levels

Auckland Alert Level setting

Auckland continues to be at Alert Level 3, Step 1. This will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 1 November.  More information on Alert Level 3 is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Waikato areas Alert Level setting

Parts of the Waikato (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas) that are at Alert Level 3 will remain at that level until Monday, 1 November, to be reviewed on that day alongside the review of the Auckland settings. From 11.59 tonight, Alert Level 3 settings in those parts of the Waikato will be easing to mirror the settings in Auckland. These changes do not have implications for our Alert Level 3 guidance.

The boundary between Auckland and Waikato remains. For general Alert Level advice for those in an area of the Waikato at Alert Level 3, please see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Waikato areas and Auckland region is currently at Alert Level 2.

Announcement on engagement on increasing tertiary bubble sizes in Alert Level 3

As indicated by the Minister of Education this afternoon, the Government is considering expanding education gathering limits in the tertiary sector. We will be undertaking targeted engagement with the sector on increasing the maximum number of people in a staff/student bubble for on-site delivery (where remote delivery is not possible) from 10 to 20. This proposed change would allow Private Training Establishments in particular to reconnect with their students face to face, and supports TEOs to operate end of year assessments for their students.  If this change is approved, it is likely to take effect from 15 November.

Employment vaccination announcement

Following Cabinet on Tuesday, the Government announced an overview of vaccine mandate rules for employers. This includes:

  • A new Government mandate to require vaccination for all workers at businesses where customers need to show COVID 19 Vaccination Certificates, such as hospitality and close contact businesses, and
  • For those employers not mandated to require vaccination, a law change to introduce a clearer and simplified risk assessment process to follow when deciding whether they can require vaccinations for staff.

We are currently working through the implications of this and recent high-level policy announcements for tertiary education. We will work with sector peak bodies to provide further guidance to support providers regarding vaccination of staff. Further information on the announcement can be accessed on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Updated guidance on bubbles at AL 3

On-campus bubble re-configuration for staff
Under Alert Level 3 guidance, classes, workshops, etc. that cannot be delivered online have been allowed to operate on-site in small bubble groups of up to 10 staff/students. Staff members should continue only having one bubble at one time. However, we have now updated the guidance so that where necessary, a staff member may leave a bubble and join a new staff/student bubble (for example, if a course has concluded and another one is to begin). There is no required stand down time period for staff between leaving a bubble and joining another. Contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met should continue to be collected.

We are updating our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers to reflect these changes. Our guidance can be found on the Ministry of Education's website

Updated guidance on student travel

We are aware that students are looking for guidance about crossing alert levels to return home on a permanent or long-term basis at the end of the academic year. We have updated our guidance to reflect that students can relocate across alert levels or regional boundaries for this purpose, and would apply if a student needed to go home for the summer holidays as their lease is ending or hall of residence is closing.

  • Students are permitted to relocate to their home or place of residence on a permanent or long-term basis as a result if attending tertiary education or completing a course of study at a tertiary education entity. All students must carry evidence of their purpose of travel and destination (for example, proof of accommodation arrangements).
  • When travelling from Auckland, students must also carry:
    • evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, or
    • a medical certificate confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test.
  • Students must get tested or be examined within 72 hours prior to crossing the Alert Level boundary.
  • The Unite Against COVID-19 website outlines the evidence requirements for this travel.

Border class exception for 1,000 international tertiary students

A further border class exception for 1,000 international tertiary students has been approved by the Government for the following international students:

  • 400 pilot trainees
  • 300 students at degree level and above, and
  • 300 students at the sub-degree level.

We expect students to start arriving from mid-2022.

More details about this border class exception are available on the Ministry of Education's website.

Be a doer! Karawhiua

We can be proud of what we’ve done to protect each other from COVID-19. Let’s not waste our hard mahi. You and your whānau can find trusted information on the Karawhiuia website so you can make an informed choice about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Karawhiua — Karawhiua - Protect Communities from COVID-19

Two shots for summer

Vaccination is our pass to unlock summer. Find where's close to get your dose on the Unite against COVID-19 — you can just walk in or drive through. Get 1 now. Get another in 3 weeks.

2 shots for summer | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Vaccination resources

You can access trusted information about vaccines, communications resources and conversation guides on the Unite against COVID-19 website.  If you have a specific request, please email us COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz

COVID-19 vaccines | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Email address for all tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries

A central mailbox has been set-up for all queries related to COVID-19 - COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz. We are introducing this email address to ensure there is a central point of contact that we can monitor. We will continue to meet with the sector regularly.

Update: 22 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

 

COVID-19 Alert Levels

Auckland Alert Level setting

Auckland continues to be at Alert Level 3, Step 1. This will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 1 November.  More information on Alert Level 3 is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers remains current and unchanged.  It can be found on the Ministry of Education website.  

Waikato areas Alert Level setting

Yesterday, Cabinet reviewed the Alert Level 3 settings that apply to the Waikato Alert Level 3 areas (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas). The parts of Waikato that have been in Alert Level 3 will remain at that alert level till Wednesday, 27 October, with these settings to be reviewed on that day. For general Alert Level advice for those in an area of the Waikato at Alert Level 3, please see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Waikato areas and Auckland region is currently at Alert Level 2.

You may have also seen the news from the Ministry of Health this afternoon about two cases in Northland. Any updates from the Government will be put up on the Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Overview of COVID-19 protection framework

Today, the Prime Minister announced the new “COVID-19 Protection Framework”. The Framework will replace the Alert Level system once 90% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated (and due to the different circumstances in Auckland, it will be considered separately from other regions).  The Framework represents a new approach to managing COVID-19 facilitated by high COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Details of the framework are available on the Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) website.  More information will be released in mid-November.

The COVID-19 Protection Framework introduces a new flexible 3-level approach to managing COVID-19 in the community:

  • Green
  • Orange
  • Red

COVID-19 protection framework: Working with you

At each level, there are high-level requirements for different types of organisation or setting, including tertiary education.

Over the coming weeks we will work closely with the sector peak bodies to develop the detail of the framework for the tertiary sector, and provide high level guidance to assist TEOs on operating within the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. In the meantime, you can continue to use our detailed Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations.

Tertiary education provision at Green, Orange and Red levels

At Green, there are some COVID-19 cases in the community, and sporadic imported cases. Community transmission will be limited and COVID-19 hospitalisations will be at a manageable level. The health system will be ready to respond, including primary care, public health, and hospitals. Tertiary providers, alongside ECEs, schools and kura, will be open.

At Orange, there will be increasing community transmission that is putting pressure on our health system. The whole of health system will focus its resources, but can continue to manage primary care, public health, and hospitals. There may also be an increasing risk for at-risk people. Education facilities, including tertiary education providers, will be open with public health measures in place.

At Red, action will be needed to be taken to protect at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations. At TEOs, staff and students will need to be vaccinated for onsite delivery for tertiary education, with capacity based on 1m distancing and other public health measures in place. Online provision should be available for offsite learners.

Be a doer! Karawhiua

We can be proud of what we’ve done to protect each other from COVID-19. Let’s not waste our hard mahi. You and your whānau can find trusted information on the Karawhiuia website so you can make an informed choice about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Karawhiua — Karawhiua - Protect Communities from COVID-19

Two shots for summer

Vaccination is our pass to unlock summer. Find where's close to get your dose on the Unite against COVID-19 — you can just walk in or drive through. Get 1 now. Get another in 3 weeks.

2 shots for summer | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Vaccination resources

You can access trusted information about vaccines, communications resources and conversation guides on the Unite against COVID-19 website.  If you have a specific request, please email us COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz

COVID-19 vaccines | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Email address for all tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries

A central mailbox has been set-up for all queries related to COVID-19 - COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz. We are introducing this email address to ensure there is a central point of contact that we can monitor. We will continue to meet with the sector regularly.

Update: 21 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

Government announcements relating to senior secondary schools at Alert Level 3

Today the Minister of Education announced that onsite learning at schools in Level 3 regions will start from next week for senior secondary schools to prepare for end of year exams. This means students in years 11 to 13 can return to onsite learning from Tuesday 26 October.

The Minister also announced that NCEA and NZ Scholarship exams will proceed as planned, including in areas where Alert Level 3 has been in place.

For students sitting NCEA in Auckland, Waikato and Northland, NZQA has invoked the ‘Unexpected Event Grade’ process. During the year, teachers gather evidence of students’ learning, and send grades to NZQA. These grades have undergone a quality assurance process to make sure they are fair and relate to the standard being assessed.

Where possible, students will be expected to attend exams. However, for students in Auckland, Waikato or Northland, NZQA will calculate a student’s final grade based on whichever is higher – the grade supplied by the school, or the grade earned in the exam. If the student did not sit the exam, they receive the grade supplied by the school.

NCEA is the main school-leaving qualification in New Zealand, and each year is an important step to support our senior secondary students into future opportunities. The re-opening of learning onsite to all years 11 to 13 students is a complex undertaking, and involves a large cohort of students, at a critical point in time. From a tertiary perspective, this is an important decision that supports future tertiary students.

While efforts to date have largely focussed on getting these students through their NCEA exams, we are thinking hard about other parts of the education system, including the tertiary sector.

We hope to be able to provide more information on other parts of the education sector soon.

Email address for all tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries

A central mailbox has been set-up for all queries related to COVID-19 - COVID19.Tertiary@education.govt.nz. Please continue to send your queries to this central mailbox.

We will continue to meet with the sector regularly.

Update: 19 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

 

Auckland COVID-19 Alert Level update:

On Monday 18 October, the Prime Minister announced that Auckland will continue to remain at Alert Level 3, Step 1, for another two weeks, following Cabinet’s review of the phased approach to shifting down Alert Level 3 restrictions. This means that Auckland continues to remain at Alert Level 3, but:

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people can go ahead
  • travel anywhere in the Auckland region for exercise, sports or recreation outdoors is allowed
  • early learning centres can reopen to all children, with a maximum of 10 children in each bubble.

These settings will be reviewed again by Cabinet on Monday 1 November. More information on Alert Level 3 is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers for Alert Level 3 is unchanged and can be found on the Ministry of Education's website.  

On Wednesday, Minister Hipkins will present decisions about onsite learning in schools. We will issue a further Bulletin letting you know about the decision and hope to be able to discuss options and a timetable for reopening other parts of the education sector, including tertiary, soon.

On Friday, the Prime Minister will announce new details of the COVID-19 protection framework.  We will send a tertiary and international bulletin following that announcement that will focus on our sector.

Regions outside of Auckland Alert Level settings

Waikato areas

The above Alert Level 3 restrictions do not apply to the Waikato Alert Level 3 areas (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton Waitomo District, including Te Kuiti, Waipa District, Ōtorohanga District, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas). On Monday 18 October, Cabinet reviewed these settings and announced that the affected Waikato areas will remain in Alert level 3 with these settings to be reviewed on Friday 22 October. For general Alert Level advice for those in an area of the Waikato at Alert Level 3, please see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Northland Area

On Monday 18 October, Cabinet reviewed the Alert Level settings for Northland and announced that Northland will remain at Alert Level 3 until 11:59pm on Tuesday 19 October and will move down to Alert Level 2 thereafter.

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Northland area, Waikato areas and Auckland region is currently at Alert Level 2.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements and secondary-tertiary education delivery

We have received a number of queries about whether staff delivering secondary-tertiary programmes (most commonly known as Trades Academies) will be required to be vaccinated under the ECE and schooling staff vaccination mandate when it is made. 

When the mandatory vaccination requirement comes into force, it is anticipated it will apply to anyone delivering the programme on a school site, whether they are employed by the school, by a TEO or are a contractor. Staff who do not work on school sites are not included in this mandate.

Covid-19 vaccination and the tertiary education sector

We appreciate the feedback you have provided us to date and understand that there is a high level of interest in further information about COVID-19 vaccinations and the tertiary sector. We hope to be able to provide further information soon.

Extension to programme length

NZQA is committed to supporting all TEOs affected by the cumulative and ongoing Covid-19 Alert Levels.

NZQA has become aware of TEOs that want/need to make changes to the length of their programme delivery in order to allow learners to complete their study.

TEOs that want to temporarily extend programme length should contact NZQA to discuss their plans providing the following information:

  1. The title of the programme[s],
  2. approved duration (weeks) for the programme,
  3. extension to programme duration required,
  4. the number of learners affected,
  5. any other relevant information, such as projects/work integrated learning /internships etc.

Please contact NZQA at covid19.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz  

You should also discuss your plans to extend with StudyLink, TEC or Immigration New Zealand, as appropriate.

Please note that this approach does not apply to programmes of study that lead to registration with a regulatory body, such as Nursing Council New Zealand, the Midwifery Council, the Social Workers Registration Board or the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand; any request to extend these programmes must be discussed jointly with NZQA and the relevant body.

Update: 5 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

 

COVID-19 Alert Level update: 3-Step approach for Auckland

On Monday 4 October, the Prime Minister announced that Auckland will continue to remain at Alert Level 3, with a weekly review and a phased approach to shifting down the Alert Level 3 restrictions.

Step 1 comes into effect from 11.59pm on 5 October 2021. Steps 2 and 3 will come into effect if, and when, the public health assessment tells us it is safe to do so.

Step 1 - From 11:59pm on 5 October 2021 Auckland remains at Alert Level 3, but:

  • outdoor gatherings between 2 households can go ahead, with a maximum of 10 people attending
  • travel anywhere in the Auckland region for exercise, sports or recreation outdoors is allowed
  • early learning centres can reopen to all children, with a maximum of 10 children in each bubble.

Step 2 -  Auckland remains at Alert Level 3, but if, and when, the public health assessment tells us it is safe to do so:

  • retail can operate, with customers able to enter premises, wearing face coverings and keeping 2 metres apart
  • public facilities like pools, libraries and museums can reopen, with face coverings and 2-metre social distancing required
  • outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people can go ahead.

Step 3 - Auckland remains at Alert Level 3, but if, and when, the public health assessment tells us it is safe to do so:

  • hospitality venues, like cafes, bars, and restaurants, can reopen with a limit of 50 people
  • event facilities likes cinemas, casinos, and theatres can open with a limit of 50 people in a defined space, wearing face coverings and 2-metre physical distancing
  • close contact businesses, like hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, can reopen, with workers wearing face coverings
  • social gatherings, indoors and outdoors, can take place with a limit of 50 people in a defined space.

Updated Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

The Step 1 changes do not require any updates to our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers for Alert Level 3, which is available on  the Ministry of Education website

Alert Level settings for Waikato Alert Level 3 areas

The above changes to Alert Level 3 restrictions do not apply to the Waikato Alert Level 3 areas (Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton). The alert level for these areas will remain in place for five days and will be reviewed on Friday 8 October. For general Alert Level advice for those in an area of the Waikato at Alert Level 3, please see the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Cross-boundary travel to and from Waikato

The regional boundary between Waikato and Auckland is maintained.

Travel in and out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 area is limited to permitted reasons. You can cross into the Waikato Alert Level 3 area from an Alert Level 2 area to work in any business or service which is open in the Alert Level 3 area. But you cannot cross from the Waikato Alert Level 3 area to work in an Alert Level 2 area, except for work in permitted businesses and services.

If travelling in and out of the Waikato Alert Level 3 area, we recommend carrying a letter from your employer confirming place of work and need to travel. Other than across the boundary with Auckland, you are not required to provide evidence of a recent test and formal business travel documents.

Minor clarifications to our detailed guidance for tertiary education providers to reflect these changes may follow.

Changes to Alert Level 2 settings

The rest of New Zealand outside of the affected Waikato areas and Auckland region is currently at Alert Level 2. 

The Government announced changes to the Alert Level 2 settings today. There will no longer be gathering limits for hospitality venues (though physical distancing requirements remain at these venues, and social gathering limits of 100 will remain in place). The ‘no standing’ requirement on public transport will also be lifted. More information will be available on the Unite Against Covid website.

These changes do not affect our detailed guidelines for tertiary education organisations.

Non-NZ Citizens must be vaccinated to enter New Zealand

From 1 November 2021, anyone entering New Zealand (17 years and over), who is not a New Zealand citizen, will require a full course of any of the 22 COVID-19 vaccines approved by a government or approval authority. The last dose will need to be at least 14 days prior to arrival in New Zealand. This will apply to international students who are entering New Zealand. The requirement will not apply to New Zealand citizens, children under the age of 17, and those who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The Ministry of Health has provided information: Travel to New Zealand | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz). The Government will provide more information soon about acceptable evidence of vaccination or medical exemption.

The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group has approved the below vaccines:

Company

Vaccine Name

Approval

Anhui Zhifei Longcom

ZF2001

Approved in 2 countries

Bharat Biotech

Covaxin

Approved in 9 countries

CanSino

Ad5-nCoV

Approved in 9 countries

Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB)

CIGB-66

 

Approved in 3 countries

Chumakov Center

KoviVac

Approved in 1 country

FBRI

EpiVacCorona

Approved in 2 countries

Gamaleya

Sputnik Light

Approved in 16 countries

Gamaleya

Sputnik V

Approved in 71 countries

Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

Ad26.COV2.S

Approved in 70 countries

Kazakhstan RIBSP

QazVac

Approved in 2 countries

Medigen

MVC-COV1901

Approved in 1 country

Minhai Biotechnology Co

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cells)

Approved in 1 country

Moderna

mRNA-1273

Approved in 76 countries

Oxford/AstraZeneca

AZD1222

Approved in 122 countries

Pfizer/BioNTech

BNT162b2

Approved in 100 countries

Serum Institute of India

Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca formulation)

Approved in 46 countries

Shifa Pharmed Industrial Co

COVID-19 Inactivated Vaccine

Approved in 1 country

Sinopharm (Beijing)

BBIBP-CorV (Vero Cells)

Approved in 65 countries

Sinopharm (Wuhan)

Inactivated (Vero Cells)

Approved in 2 countries

Sinovac

CoronaVac

Approved in 40 countries

Takeda

TAK-919 (Moderna formulation)

Approved in 1 country

Zydus Cadila

ZyCoV-D

Approved in 1 country

 For latest information please see the link: Vaccines – COVID19 Vaccine Tracker (trackvaccines.org)  

Changes to QR Code Poster display requirements

New changes to QR poster display requirements come into effect on 11.59pm Tuesday 5 October. These changes include:

  • Additional copies of a COVID-19 QR code will need to be displayed in places –other than the entranceway - throughout businesses and locations that are already required to display them. This is in addition to an already required QR code displayed at the main entrance.
  • QR code posters are required to be kept in a good condition.
  • The QR code must not be altered in a way that makes it unclear that it has been issued by the NZ Government for the purposes of contact tracing. Businesses and locations must use the official COVID-19 QR code posters issued by the Ministry of Health. This also ensures people know the QR code they are scanning links to the COVID tracer app and is for contact tracing purposes.

Kai, essential items and financial support

If you need food urgently, your local foodbank may be able to help. Find your local foodbank.

Update: 4 October 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level update

Following news of cases of COVID-19 in the Waikato region yesterday, parts of the Waikato region have moved to Alert Level 3 overnight. The alert level will remain in place for five days and will be reviewed on Friday 8 October.

The areas moving to Alert Level 3 are Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton. You can find the boundaries on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

The key message for Alert Level 3 is stay at home, and stay local.

As a reminder for TEOs in the affected regions, we re-share key points from our Alert Level 3 guidance below. General Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website and detailed guidance for tertiary education providers is available on our website.  

Cabinet is reviewing Alert Level settings today for Auckland, which is currently at Alert Level 3, and the rest of New Zealand other than the affected Waikato area, which is currently at Alert Level 2. We will issue another Bulletin if there are further changes announced.

Alert Level 3 – Guidelines for TEOs and students in affected areas of the Waikato region

TEOs in the Waikato areas that have moved to Alert Level 3 should follow the Alert Level 3 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. We set out the overarching principles and some key guidance below.

Overarching principles

At Alert Level 3, all guidance needs to be read and actioned with the following key principles in mind:

  • All teaching and other activities should be carried out remotely, wherever possible.
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g., for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops).
  • Any class, workshop, etc. that cannot be delivered online should be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10. Contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met should be collected.
  • For any on-site activities, appropriate infection control measures, such as physical distancing and face coverings, along with Worksafe requirements must be met at all times.

Key guidance

  • On-site examinations at Alert Level 3 should only take place for existing students/staff bubbles of 10, where it has not been possible to deliver teaching online.
  • At-risk and vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not be required to carry out any on-site activities unless they are fully vaccinated. However, they may work on site if they wish to, and it is safe for them to do so.
  • Libraries and computer labs may remain open where they are essential to education delivery and can be operated using closely monitored personal distancing conditions. There is a high bar for an activity to be considered essential to education delivery. Access to libraries or computer labs should only be allowed when the delivery of education cannot occur remotely, e.g., for research, postgraduate teaching, or labs.
  • Face coverings must be worn at student health services and pharmacies where these are open. They are strongly recommended at all other times, particularly where physical distancing may be difficult.

Update: 28 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level status

Auckland continues to remain at Alert Level 3, with a review on Monday 4 October. Upper Hauraki moved to Alert Level 2 on Saturday 25 September. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2 and will remain there while Auckland is at Alert Level 3.

General Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website and detailed guidance for tertiary education providers is available on the Ministry of Education website.  

Government announcement on new permitted reasons for cross-boundary travel

The Government announced today that additional permitted reasons for people to cross the Alert Level 3 boundary into an Alert Level 2 area will be introduced from 11.59pm tonight, Tuesday 28 September.

Relevant to the tertiary sector, people in Alert Level 3 areas will be permitted to cross the travel boundary into Alert Level 2:

  • if they are going to their principal home or place of residence;
  • if they are relocating their home or place of residence on a permanent or long-term basis as a result of—
    • starting new employment;
    • attending tertiary education.

A full list of permitted travel will be available on the Unite against COVID-19 website. Most people are still not permitted to travel across the alert level boundaries.

For students: Updated guidance on travel and accommodation

Following these changes, our new guidance to students on cross-boundary travel from an Alert Level 3 area to an Alert Level 2 area is:

  • Students in an Alert Level 3 area are permitted to return to their principal home or place of residence in an Alert Level 2 area, or relocate their home or place of residence on a permanent or long-term basis as a result of attending tertiary education in an Alert Level 2 area. Students must not change their accommodation if they have been directed by a medical officer of health to isolate.
  • Students in an Alert Level 3 area intending to move into tertiary student accommodation in an Alert Level 2 area should contact their provider before they leave their current accommodation to facilitate this movement.
  • When travelling across an Alert Level boundary, students must carry evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result, or a medical certificate confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test. You must get tested or be examined within the 72 hours prior to crossing the Alert Level boundary. (Students should also provide this evidence to student accommodation providers before moving in.) Students must also carry evidence of their purpose of travel and destination e.g. proof of accommodation arrangements when travelling. See Personal travel across an Alert Level boundary | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) for more information.
  • Once in an Alert Level 2 area, students who have relocated from Alert Level 3 are able to follow Alert Level 2 rules, including attending their tertiary provider and participating in social gatherings, consistent with public health requirements. Students should, however, be alert to symptoms and get tested if any symptoms develop.

We have updated our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations in line with these changes. Further changes may be required following the confirmation of the amendments to the Health Order this evening.

The rules for travel and changing accommodation for students in Alert Level 2 areas have not changed.

For TEOS: Guidance for accommodation providers

We have made two changes to our detailed guidelines in relation to student accommodation, following the permitted travel changes outlined above, on advice from the Ministry of Health:

  • We strongly recommend that student accommodation providers request to see evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result (or a medical certificate confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test) from students returning from an Alert Level 3 area before they are allowed to move into accommodation.
  • We now encourage staff and residents to wear masks in shared and communal areas at Alert Level 2 (except for eating and drinking).

Students who have relocated from Alert Level 3 are able to follow Alert Level 2 rules. Tertiary accommodation providers may implement additional public health protocols to meet the health and safety needs of their staff and residents, and should do so in consultation with them.

Update: 22 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level changes and Section 70 notice

Auckland has now moved to Alert Level 3 for at least two weeks with a review on Monday 4 October. Upper Hauraki is also now at Alert Level 3 and under a section 70 direction, with these settings under regular review. The rest of New Zealand stay at Alert Level 2 and will remain there while Auckland remains at higher Alert Levels.

General Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website and the detailed guidance for tertiary education providers is available on our website.  

Rāhui | Alert Level 3 – Guidelines for TEOs and students in the Auckland region

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 12) 2021 was confirmed late last night. We can confirm that our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations are up-to-date, with the exception of updates we have made relating to cross-boundary travel. These updates are in line with guidance we provided in our bulletin yesterday, and are outlined below.

For students: Updated accommodation and travel guidance

Our Alert Level 3 guidance for students in Auckland is as follows:

  • Wherever possible, we recommend that students remain in their current accommodation while Auckland is at Alert Level 3.
  • Students may only move out of their accommodation in an Alert Level 3 area if they are relocating on a permanent or long-term basis to accommodation that is also in an Alert Level 3 area. Students are strongly discouraged from moving into or returning to student accommodation at Alert Level 3 if they have been offsite for Alert Level 4, unless it is an emergency. Students must not change their accommodation if they have been directed by a medical officer of health to isolate.
  • Students in an Alert Level 3 area are not permitted to return to their primary home or place of residence in an Alert Level 2 area. This means that students currently in Auckland are not able to relocate from Auckland without an exemption from the Director-General of Health. The threshold for exemptions is extremely high. We understand this is frustrating for students in Auckland who are looking to return to their TEOs or permanent residences outside of Auckland. Please check out the resources in the stress counselling and support section below, and contact your TEO if you need assistance. Your TEO should be supporting you to engage in remote learning, and to manage your health and wellbeing.

The rules for cross-boundary travel from Alert Level 2 areas are consistent with our previous guidance:

  • Students in Alert Level 2 areas are permitted to travel to their principal home or place of residence in Alert Level 3 areas, i.e. Auckland, but they will not be able to leave Auckland until it is at Alert Level 2.
  • If necessary, students may travel from an Alert Level 2 area into, through, and out of an Alert Level 3 area (in one trip) to attend an education entity in an Alert Level 2 area to participate in an education programme they are enrolled in. Returning home into, through, and out of an Alert Level 3 area (in one trip) afterwards is also allowed. For example, a student may drive from their home in Waikato to their TEO in Northland when Auckland is at Alert Level 3, and return home. They must carry evidence of their purpose of travel and destination (e.g. proof of enrolment and proof of residential address, for their return trip), and photo ID. See Personal travel across an Alert Level boundary | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz).

Whakaiti | Alert Level 2 – Updated guidance on recommended capacity limits, on-site exams

As we noted in yesterday’s bulletin, indoor gatherings of up to 100 (previously 50) are now permitted at Alert Level 2. While social gathering limits do not apply to education-related activities at TEOs, we have reviewed our recommended capacity limits following this decision. We have also reviewed our Alert Level 2 on-site exam guidance.

Recommended capacity limits

We now recommend capacity limits for large teaching and learning spaces of a maximum of 200 staff and students, with physical distancing of 1-metre, at Alert Level 2. We previously recommended limits of 100 staff and students.

As a reminder:

  • TEOs should have protocols in place to ensure staff, students and visitors maintain physical distancing when entering and leaving teaching and learning spaces as appropriate – for example, ‘one-way doors’ for entrances and exits, adjusting timetabling to provide more time in between classes, or requiring face coverings if 1-metre physical distancing is not practicable.
  • TEOs should also ensure contact tracing information that identifies which students and staff (and any other visitors) have been in each controlled learning space, and at what time, is collected – whether through the NZ COVID Tracer App, or other means.
  • Face coverings are strongly recommended for students and staff in teaching and learning spaces. While face coverings are not mandatory under the Health Order, providers have their usual rights to set rules for conduct on their premises.

On-site examinations

We have made changes to our examination guidance for Alert Level 2, recognising the controlled nature of the examination environment and to ensure consistency with learning space guidance:

  • We now recommend strict physical distancing of at least 1-metre (previously 1.5-metres) should be in place in examinations.
  • There are no Health Order restrictions on the number of students attending an examination in a single venue. We previously recommended that TEOs limit capacity at a single examination venue to a maximum of 100 staff and students, and we now recommend that TEOs limit numbers where practicable. As a reminder, contact tracing systems, including the display of COVID Tracer App QR codes, should be in place. We continue to strongly recommend that face coverings are worn.

You can now find examination guidance for TEOs at each alert level in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations.

Stress counselling and support

This will continue to be an unsettling time, and the uncertainty of COVID-19 can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. We continue to remind staff and students that mental wellbeing is important, and can be supported through accessing a range of the self-help resources:

There are also a number of helplines that are available and can connect people to trained counsellors. These include:

  • 1737 which is available 24/7 via free call or text
  • Youthline which can be accessed by calling 0800 376 633 or by free texting 234. Youthline also has a web chat function
  • OUTline has a free helpline available between 6pm and 9pm for members of the rainbow community. This can be accessed by calling 0800 688 5463.
  • If you have immediate concerns for the safety of yourself or someone else, please call 111.

In addition to the support and services available to all New Zealanders, there are Pacific mental health and addiction providers that have activated pandemic plans and are supporting their communities digitally where possible. These providers include:

There is also free counselling/Psychology Service in response to COVID-19 for Migrants and Former Refugees: Diversity Counselling New Zealand | DCNZ Hamilton | Contact Us for help

COVID-19: basics

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.
  • In an emergency always call 111.

Update: 21 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

Kia ora koutou,

COVID-19 Alert Level changes and Section 70 notice

The government has announced that Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm, today, Tuesday 21 September.

Auckland will stay at Level 3 for at least two weeks with a review on Monday 4 October.

The rest of New Zealand with the exception of Upper Hauraki will stay at Alert Level 2 and will remain there as long as Auckland remains at higher Alert Levels.

Anyone in Upper Hauraki needs to stay home, stay local, wear a face covering when you leave home and keep 2 metres distance from people outside of your bubble.  Watch for symptoms of COVID 19 and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you develop symptoms. This will be reviewed regularly.

If you have worked, been in a household or attended an indoor gathering in Upper Hauraki since 8 September and are no longer there, you must stay home, monitor symptoms of COVID-19, call Healthline if you feel unwell and check locations of interest here.

General Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website and the detailed guidance for tertiary education providers is available on our website.  

Rāhui | Alert Level 3 – Guidelines for TEOs and students in the Auckland region

From tomorrow, TEOs and students in Auckland should follow the Alert Level 3 guidance as detailed on the Unite Against Covid website and in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations.

We will update our guidelines as soon as we have seen the final Health Order which is due later today, and will notify changes tomorrow in our next bulletin. We expect that our Alert Level 3 guidelines will remain the same, with the exception of cross-boundary travel. We expect that the Health Order will not allow students in an Alert Level 3 area to return to their primary home or place of residence in an Alert Level 2 area. In the meantime, we continue to recommend that students remain in their current accommodation once Auckland moves to Alert Level 3, and that they do not move into or return to student accommodation.

Whakaiti | Alert Level 2 – New gathering limits

The Prime Minister announced changes yesterday to gathering limits at Alert Level 2. From tomorrow, indoor gatherings of up to 100 are permitted. Outdoor gathering limits remain at 100 people.

While social gathering limits do not apply to education-related activities at TEOs, we are reviewing our recommended capacity limits (a maximum of 100 students and staff) following this decision and will provide an update in our next bulletin.

For TEOs: Supporting student wellbeing

The prolonged lockdown is immensely stressful for many students. Changing Alert Levels – even if restrictions are eased – can be a time of increased stress and anxiety, as students are required to make new adjustments. The number one priority continues to be the wellbeing of students and ensuring they remain safe during this time.

We encourage providers to continue to uphold their international Code and domestic Code obligations.

Student voice

We encourage you to keep in close contact with your students and continue using student voice (Outcome 6, interim domestic Code) to ensure their voices are heard and integrated into decisions and support services needed at this time. For example, consider inviting a student representative to your team meetings to act as a conduit for communication, or actively ask students during your regular welfare checks for their feedback as to what would help them right now.

Student Accommodation

If you are a tertiary student accommodation provider, please continue to ensure the following:

  • Appropriate welfare checks on residents, including regular checks on those identified as being at risk
  • Managerial oversight of accommodation staff at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) so that issues can be escalated when they occur
  • Clear processes for responding to instances of resident behaviour that pose a risk to self or others
  • Clear and timely escalation processes for any incidents
  • Holding the contact details of a nominated person should a resident’s wellbeing or behaviour cause concern
  • Providing residents with learning and peer support on self-care, positive wellbeing and how to access pastoral care services – whether through the provider and/or the wider community.

The NZQA Code team is here to help, so please get in touch for support or advice either via 0800 697 296 or code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz

Stress counselling and support

This will continue to be an unsettling time, and the uncertainty of COVID-19 can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. We continue to remind staff and students that mental wellbeing is important, and can be supported through accessing a range of the self-help resources:

There are also a number of helplines that are available and can connect people to trained counsellors. These include:

  • 1737 which is available 24/7 via free call or text
  • Youthline which can be accessed by calling 0800 376 633 or by free texting 234. Youthline also has a web chat function
  • OUTline has a free helpline available between 6pm and 9pm for members of the rainbow community. This can be accessed by calling 0800 688 5463.
  • If you have immediate concerns for the safety of yourself or someone else, please call 111.

In addition to the support and services available to all New Zealanders, there are Pacific mental health and addiction providers that have activated pandemic plans and are supporting their communities digitally where possible. These providers include:

There is also free counselling/Psychology Service in response to COVID-19 for Migrants and Former Refugees: Diversity Counselling New Zealand | DCNZ Hamilton | Contact Us for help

Update: 16 September 2021: COVID 19 Update

Kia ora koutou,

Ko tēnei te wiki o te reo Māori – kia kaha te reo Māori!

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

The government announced on Monday that Auckland will continue to remain in Alert Level 4 and will in principle move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm Tuesday 21 September. This will be confirmed on Monday 20 September. The rest of New Zealand beyond the Southern and Northern Auckland regional boundary will remain at Alert Level 2 with a review of settings also on Monday 20 September.

This bulletin provides in-depth coverage of guidance for those of you in Auckland preparing for an anticipated move to Alert Level 3 next week.

General Alert Level 3 information is available on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

 

Rāhui | Alert Level 3 – Guidelines for TEOs and students in the Auckland region

TEOs and students in Auckland preparing for the anticipated move to Alert Level 3 next week should follow the Alert Level 3 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. Our guidelines are up to date, except on cross-boundary travel (e.g., from an Alert Level 3 area to an Alert Level 2 area) and some minor clarifications. We discuss these further below. Otherwise, we are not expecting to make significant changes to our guidance, although we will do a final check once the Health Order confirming the alert level change for Auckland is in place.

Overarching principles

At Alert Level 3, all guidance needs to be read and actioned with the following key principles in mind:

  • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely, wherever possible.
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may open (e.g., for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops).
  • Any class, workshop, etc. that cannot be delivered online should be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10. Contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met must be collected.
  • For any on-site activities, appropriate infection control measures, such as physical distancing and face coverings, along with Worksafe requirements must be met at all times.

Key guidance

  • Site access to prepare for re-opening (and to meet public health guidance) is allowed before Alert Level 3 comes into effect. We suggest TEOs and campus businesses provide staff with a letter they can take with them explaining why they are going to their place of work in Alert Level 4. As a reminder: where access to a tertiary site is permitted at Alert Level 4, a minimum number of staff should be onsite for a minimum amount of time, contact tracing systems and infection prevention measures must be in place, and physical distancing must be maintained at all times. If there is more than one staff member on site, staff must wear a face covering.
  • On-site examinations at Alert Level 3 should only take place for existing students/staff bubbles of 10, where it has not been possible to deliver teaching online.
  • At-risk and vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not be required to carry out any on-site activities unless they are fully vaccinated. However, they may work on site if they wish to, and it is safe for them to do so.
  • Libraries and computer labs may remain open where they are essential to education delivery and can be operated using closely monitored personal distancing conditions. There is a high bar for an activity to be considered essential to education delivery. Access to libraries or computer labs should only be allowed when the delivery of education cannot occur remotely, e.g., for research, post-graduate teaching, labs or noho-based delivery.
  • Face coverings should be worn at indoor facilities (e.g., libraries and student health services) where these are open. They are strongly recommended at all other times, particularly where physical distancing may be difficult.

Further detailed information on Alert Level 3 is also available on the COVID-19 website.

 

Tertiary student accommodation and travel guidance at Alert Level 3

We are aware that some students who have been in Auckland for Alert Level 4 are looking at returning to their TEOs in Alert Level 2 areas once Auckland moves to Alert Level 3. Cabinet has yet to decide the rules for cross-boundary travel once Auckland moves to Alert Level 3. Student and staff are advised to wait until the Health Order is finalised before making travel plans. When Auckland moves to Alert Level 3 students should remain in their current accommodation if possible and we recommend they do not move into or return to student accommodation.  

 

Alert Level 2 and 3 – minor changes to guidance

We have made minor changes to our Alert Level 2 and Level 3 guidelines to make it clear that they provide both minimum legal requirements and recommendations, to ensure we’re consistent in how we discuss these, and to ensure guidance provided to education entities is aligned with other COVID-19 guidance where appropriate. 

TEOs and students should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 2 and 3 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. We encourage providers to continue making their usual good sensible judgements within the guidelines, with their usual care for staff and learner wellbeing. 

 

Contact-tracing reminder

To stop any future spread of COVID-19, there is a need to trace the contacts of anyone who has had exposure to COVID-19 and break the chain of transmission. Recording people’s movements helps to do this quickly. The NZ COVID Tracer App is our fastest way to respond to the Delta virus – the faster we respond, the faster we can stop it.

You can find QR code posters at many locations you visit. Scan these using the NZ COVID Tracer app to create a private digital diary of the places you visit. The app keeps us one step ahead of the virus — the more we scan the safer we will be. You can also turn on Bluetooth tracing in your app. Bluetooth tracing keeps track of who you have been near, while maintaining everyone’s privacy. 

TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances and ensure that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing. In particular, TEOs are responsible for ensuring contact tracing information identifies which students and staff (and any other visitors) have been in each ‘controlled learning space’ and ‘other controlled environments’ and is collected (whether via the COVID-19 Tracer App, or other means).

Mandatory record keeping is required at busy places and events at all alert levels, to ensure we are able to contact trace quickly.

For more information on contact tracing, please visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

 

Whakakore | Alert Level 4 –Guidance reminder for the Auckland region

In the meantime, TEOs and students in Auckland should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 4 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. All tertiary education facilities should continue to be closed except for necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’

Further detailed information on Alert Level 4 is available on the COVID-19 website

 

Stress counselling and support

This will continue to be an unsettling time, and the uncertainty of COVID-19 can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. We continue to remind staff and students that mental wellbeing is important, and can be supported through accessing a range of the self-help resources:

There are also a number of helplines that are available and can connect people to trained counsellors. These include:

  • 1737 which is available 24/7 via free call or text
  • Youthline which can be accessed by calling 0800 376 633 or by free texting 234. Youthline also has a web chat function
  • OUTline has a free helpline available between 6pm and 9pm for members of the rainbow community. This can be accessed by calling 0800 688 5463.
  • If you have immediate concerns for the safety of yourself or someone else, please call 111.

In addition to the support and services available to all New Zealanders, there are Pacific mental health and addiction providers that have activated pandemic plans and are supporting their communities digitally where possible. These providers include:

  • Pasifika Futures in Waitematā, Canterbury and Counties Manukau
  • Fonua Ola in Counties Manukau
  • Kāute Pasifika in Waikato
  • Pacific Health Service Hutt Valley and Naku Enei in the Hutt Valley
  • Vaka Tautua in Capital and Coast DHB and Auckland Ministry of Health are in touch with the pacific mental health community in Auckland and are looking at options to support as needed

There is also free counselling/Psychology Service in response to COVID-19 for Migrants and Former Refugees: Diversity Counselling New Zealand | DCNZ Hamilton | Contact Us for help

 

Travel: permissions, and exemption requests

While Auckland remains in Alert Level 4, cross-boundary travel continues to be heavily restricted. Go to the COVID19.govt.nz website for further information on what travel is permitted and what you need to do if permitted to travel.

Exemption to travel

If your travel is not permitted within the Health Order, then you will need to apply for an exemption. Exemptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Go to the COVID19.govt.nz website for further information.

Update: 6 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

The government has announced that the rest of New Zealand beyond the Southern and Northern Auckland regional boundary will shift into Alert Level 2 from 11.59pm on Tuesday 7 September with a review of settings on Monday 13 September. Auckland will continue to remain in Alert Level 4 until Monday 13 September.

Given the risk associated with the Delta variant, Level 2 will be different. This bulletin provides some general updates following the Prime Ministers’ announcement today and initial guidance for TEOs preparing to move into Level 2.

General updates to Alert Level 2 (Delta) include: 

  • Face coverings are now mandatory for most public venues – e.g., libraries, or a mall however you can take your face masks off in hospitality venues. Staff in public venues must wear face coverings.
  • A limit of 50 people for event and hospitality venues. If you are in an outdoor space, you may have a limit of 100 people. This limit for 50 people will not apply to tertiary education providers. More info on that below and in future bulletins.
  • Surveillance testing will begin on 11.59pm on Thursday for twice-a-week testing for at least the next two weeks for essential workers who will be crossing the Alert Level boundaries.

Alert Level 2 – Preliminary guidance for Tertiary Education Organisations

We’re in the process of updating the Alert Level 2 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations to align with Cabinet’s decisions and the next COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order. We intend to make this updated Alert Level 2 guidance available tomorrow.

To assist TEOs outside of Auckland with their preparations for Alert Level 2, we can confirm:

  • Class sizes: As noted above, the social gathering limits at Alert Level 2 do not apply to education-related gatherings. We are working with the Ministry of Health to develop guidance for TEOs on public health measures for teaching and learning in a tertiary context at Alert Level 2 including appropriate limits on class sizes and distancing requirements.
  • Contact-tracing: As at Alert Level 3, TEOs should have contact tracing systems in place for everyone on-site at Alert Level 2. TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances, and ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing. In particular, TEOs are responsible for ensuring contact tracing information that identifies which students and staff (and any other visitors) have been in each ‘controlled learning space’ and ‘other controlled environments’ and at what time, is collected (whether via the COVID-19 Tracer App, or other means).
  • Face coverings: Staff and students should bring face coverings or masks with them when attending on-site activities at Alert Level 2. Face coverings must be worn at libraries, student health services, pharmacies, banks and other retailers on campus. Face coverings are strongly recommended at all other times – including teaching and learning spaces, and research and laboratory spaces, where practicable – but are not mandatory.
  • Conducting research: All research and related activities are allowed, provided public health control measures for TEOs are in place.
  • Noho marae: Overnight noho marae will not be permitted at Alert Level 2, due to the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 with cumulative exposure time.

Alert Level 4 – Key guidance for the Auckland region

TEOs and students should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 4 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. All tertiary education facilities should continue to be closed except for necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’

Further detailed information on Alert Level 4 guidelines is available on the COVID-19 website.

COVID-19 vaccination information for Māori and Pacific peoples

From September 4, Māori and Pacific peoples are not required to book at any Whānau Ora vaccination provider and may walk in to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Further information on this campaign is available on the Whānau Ora website

Stress counselling and support

This can be an unsettling time, and the uncertainty can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, upset or frustrated. Looking after you mental wellbeing is important, and can be supported through accessing a range of the following digital, self-help resources:

There are also a number of helplines that are available and can connect people to trained counsellors. These include:

  • 1737 which is available 24/7 via free call or text
  • Youthline which can be accessed by calling 0800 376 633 or by free texting 234. Youthline also has a web chat function
  • OUTline has a free helpline available between 6pm and 9pm for members of the rainbow community. This can be accessed by calling 0800 688 5463.

If you, or someone you know, is in need of urgent mental health or addiction treatment, crisis mental health and addiction services are continuing to operate. Call your local hospital or district health board about how to get help. The numbers for crisis mental health teams are also on the Ministry of Health website. If you have immediate concerns for the safety of yourself or someone else, please call 111.

In addition to the support and services available to all New Zealanders, there are Pacific mental health and addiction providers that have activated pandemic plans and are supporting their communities digitally where possible. These providers include:

  • Pasifika Futures in Waitematā, Canterbury and Counties Manukau
  • Fonua Ola in Counties Manukau
  • Kāute Pasifika in Waikato
  • Pacific Health Service Hutt Valley and Naku Enei in the Hutt Valley
  • Vaka Tautua in Capital and Coast DHB and Auckland Ministry of Health are in touch with the pacific mental health community in Auckland and are looking at options to support as needed

There is also free counselling/Psychology Service in response to COVID-19 for Migrants and Former Refugees: Diversity Counselling New Zealand | DCNZ Hamilton | Contact Us for help

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

Please continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19 COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

 For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website https://www.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/

Stress counselling and support is available.  Friends and family members can help you to cope.

You can also get help and information from, your education provider, your GP or local community health centre, Youthline at 0800 376 633 or www.youthline.co.nz or by calling or texting 1737

For resources in Te Reo Māori, visit https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/translations/te-reo-maori/

For information to support Pacific communities, visit https://www.facebook.com/MinistryforPacificPeoples/

Resources in sign language and easy read formats.

Free counselling/Psychology Service in response to COVID-19 for Migrants and Former Refugees: Diversity Counselling New Zealand | DCNZ Hamilton | Contact Us for help

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/coronavirus-update-inz-response

Advice for international students in NZ https://naumainz.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz/help-and-advice/healthcare/the-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website http://www.education.govt.nz/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-3/       

Update: 8 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

Mālō e lelei and happy Tongan Language week,

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

The rest of New Zealand beyond the Southern and Northern Auckland regional boundary remains at Alert Level 2 with a review of settings on Monday 13 September. Auckland will continue in Alert Level 4 with a review of settings until Monday 13 September.

Whakaiti | Alert Level 2 – Updated Guidelines for Tertiary Organisations

The new COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order came out late last night. We can confirm that the guidelines released last night align with the Health Order.

In response to queries from providers, we have made some minor clarifications in our Alert Level 2 guidelines:

  • Public health measures for staff: Staff in non-public facing roles should maintain a 1-metre distance from each other. Staff in public-facing roles (e.g. student services and other roles not in controlled learning spaces) should maintain a 2-metre distance from students and visitors, and face coverings are strongly recommended.  TEOs may implement limits on the number of people in some spaces to allow everyone to safely physically distance. Staff working in hostels and halls of residence are not required to wear face coverings, but may wish to do so in shared and communal areas.
  • Guidance for shared premises: Businesses and services e.g. cafes on shared premises, e.g. learning hubs, should operate in accordance with the public health control measures that apply to that type of business or service. These may include gathering limits, physical distancing, contact tracing, and face covering requirements.

We have also made a change to our guidelines regarding permitted cross-boundary travel, which is outlined below. This is also updated on the Education website.

Tertiary education workers eligible for priority vaccination

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that any person employed by and working on site at a tertiary education entity, including tertiary accommodation services staff, is now eligible for priority vaccination, independent of the COVID-19 Alert level.

Tertiary workers should book their appointments through BookMyVaccine.nz in the first instance. There are a wide range of places staff can be vaccinated around New Zealand, including drive-through centres, marae-based centres, general practices, community pharmacies and Pacific providers.

If, for some reason tertiary workers cannot find an appointment within two weeks, they are advised to call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 and they will assist arranging a suitable time.  Tertiary workers will need to tell the call taker they are an essential education worker so their vaccination can be prioritised.  All calls are free, and the team are available from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Interpreters are available if needed.  

Below are FAQs that might help with any queries you receive about this.

If I am already booked in for a vaccination, should I cancel it and rebook as an essential worker?

It depends on how far in advance your vaccination is scheduled for. If your appointment is within the next two weeks, we suggest you keep it. If it is more than two weeks away however, you might want to rebook as an essential education worker. Just call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 and talk to them before making any changes to existing bookings. As of 1 September 2021, vaccinations are open to everyone over the age of 12, so if you are already booked for a vaccination that appointment might occur sooner.

Where can I get more information about the vaccine?

Getting accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine and the rollout programme is important. Visit the health.govt.nz and covid19.govt.nz for the latest information. Trusted information in te reo Māori and English can be found at karawhiua.nz. 

Topping up the Hardship Fund for Learners

Today, the government announced a $20 million boost to the Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL), to be paid out to providers. The fund supports domestic learners:

  • facing hardship as a result of COVID-19, and
  • can be used for technology-related costs where COVID-19 restrictions remove the options for face-to-face study.

Minister Hipkins has asked TEC to work with providers and students’ groups to ensure students understand how to access the fund. 

HAFL can be used to cover essential living costs such as food, internet, utilities, rent or other unexpected expenses. It can also be used to support access to technology-enabled tertiary education and training, where learning has been disrupted due to COVID-19.

The Government also made changes to ensure MSD can continue paying student living support for domestic learners on extended study breaks.

If you are a learner and need support, please talk to your provider.

If you are a tertiary provider, the TEC will communicate any new allocations to you. Please contact TEC if you have any questions relating to the Hardship Fund.

You can read more in the links below

Boosting support for tertiary students affected by COVID-19 | Beehive.govt.nz

Hardship Fund for Learners 2021 | TEC.govt.nz

COVID-19 information for students | Studylink.govt.nz

Travel: permissions, key principles and exemption requests

The new Health Order also had a new addition to permit travel in some circumstances, in order to attend your usual education entity or training facility for learning purposes. This means for example, that someone in Northland, who normally attends an education entity in Waikato, can travel through Auckland (without stopping) to get to Waikato.

Across boundary travel remains very restricted for anyone within the Auckland region.

Permission to travel across an Alert Level boundary

There are a range of permissions in the Health Order to support some individuals to travel across an alert level boundary, in specific circumstances including:

  • To travel to a principal home or place of residence – but only if travelling from Alert Level 2, into Alert level 4
  • Necessary travel through Auckland region from an Alert Level 2 area, to an Alert Level 2 (eg, Tai Tokerau to Waikato). This permission includes going to or returning from work and attending your regular training and education facility (and attending a funeral, tangihanga, wedding or civil union service).

If travelling for these purposes, you do not need to apply for an exemption to travel. But you must carry evidence of the purpose for your travel, and the location of your destination (eg, household bills, and letters or evidence of enrolment at an education entity). You will also need to have a form of photo ID.

Go to the COVID19.govt.nz website for further information on what travel is permitted and what you need to do if permitted to travel. Please note that this information will be getting updated following the Health Order coming into play last night.

Key principles for travel

  • Do it safely
  • Don’t travel if you are unwell
  • Don’t travel (or leave your home/place of residence) if you are self-isolating
  • You should be confident that all public health measures will be met at the location you are travelling to
  • Before you travel, make sure you know what is and isn’t allowed, at any alert level
  • Follow the rules when using public transport, domestic flights and taxi and ride-share services (eg, wear a face covering and follow physical distancing requirements)

Exemption to travel

If your travel is not permitted within the Health Order, then you will need to apply for an exemption. Exemptions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Go to the COVID19.govt.nz website for further information.

Whakakore | Alert Level 4 –Guidance reminder for the Auckland region

TEOs and students should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 4 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. All tertiary education facilities should continue to be closed except for necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’

Further detailed information on Alert Level 4 guidelines is available on the COVID-19 website.

Contact tracing systems at TEO facilities

TEOs should now have contact tracing systems in place for all staff and students onsite. TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances. It is important to ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing.

Update: 23 June 2021: COVID-19 Update

Wellington COVID-19 Alert Level change

A man who flew from Sydney to Wellington on 19 June 2021, and returned to Sydney on 21 June 2021, has been confirmed as being positive for COVID-19. As a result, the Wellington region is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 2 until 11.59pm on Sunday, 27 June. The Wellington area includes Wairarapa and Kāpiti Coast. The rest of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 1.

Advice for people who live in, or visited Wellington 19 June 2021 to 21 June

Wellingtonians and visitors to Wellington are encouraged to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page, to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19 by being in the same place, at the same time as a confirmed case. If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page.

COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

At Alert Level 2, there are differences in how we access services. You can continue to go to work, school and tertiary education, but you should follow public health measures and consider others around you. Detailed information on Alert Level 2 guidelines is available on the COVID-19 website. 

For people outside of Wellington, the Ministry of Health reminds everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate you legally must do so immediately.

Detailed guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations

You will be familiar with the detailed guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) on how to operate under different Alert Levels. These are available on the Ministry of Education websiteThis sets out the expectations that Wellington will need to operate under during Alert Level 2.

Welfare of students and staff

Alert level changes can be unsettling and may impact learners who study away from home and are unable to or choose not to return home. The number one priority remains the welfare of students and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. Providers are reminded of their international and domestic pastoral code obligations.

The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found at their website.  

COVID-19 vaccination information

Update: 19 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

Community transmission update and updated Alert Level 4 guidance for TEOs

There are now a number of community cases of COVID-19 in the Auckland region that have now been identified as the Delta variant and linked to the ongoing outbreak in New South Wales. Due to the greater risk associated with the Delta variant, these developments strongly reinforce the importance of adhering to the lockdown conditions.

We will update the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations to reflect current Alert Level 4 settings soon. In the meantime, please follow the guidelines below.

Tertiary provider site access

We have received a few queries regarding access to tertiary education facilities, especially to facilitate distance learning.

There is a process underway to enable tertiary staff to go on site for the purpose of collating and sending educational resources to their students who are otherwise unable to access resources remotely. This could include undertaking contactless deliveries to those students or arrange for couriers to undertake those deliveries. More information will be provided about this tomorrow.

Any tertiary staff undertaking deliveries will be required wear a face covering and keep physically distanced from others (two metres). There must also be no physical contact between staff and the person receiving the educational resources. Students are not permitted to pick-up educational resources from TEOs.

Other key points to note on site access, reflecting the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021, are:

  • All tertiary educational facilities must be closed, with the exception of necessary student accommodation, and those are deemed ‘essential services’.
  • Very limited site access is allowed for the following purposes only (and providers do not need to apply for permission to access sites in these circumstances):
    • Caring for animals is allowed.
    • Maintenance and management of facilities and ICT infrastructure is allowed if the task is essential to operations, and there is no way to complete the task remotely. Examples include: maintaining IT servers and IT equipment critical to delivering distance education, securing the site, removing fire hazards, or essential contractors in the event of damage at a tertiary organisation.
    • Limited scientific services are designated as essential (e.g. significant research facilities, including animal facilities, clinical trials, and infrastructure that requires constant attention (for example, samples, collections, and storage facilities), that are important to New Zealand). Tertiary providers may only continue research if it is allowed under Schedule 2 of the current health order.
  • Where site access is permitted, a minimum number of staff should be onsite for a minimum amount of time, contact tracing systems must be in place, and physical distancing requirements must be maintained at all times. If there is more than one staff member on site, staff must wear a face covering.
  • Any site access outside of the above purposes will require an exemption from the Director-General of Health. The threshold for access outside of the approved purposes above is extremely high. Tertiary education organisations that consider that they need to access sites for reasons other than those provided above should contact the TEC to discuss this.  Please email customerservice@tec.govt.nz, with the subject heading “site access enquiry”, or get in touch with your Relationship Manager.

Mandatory requirement for face coverings

Face coverings are now mandatory when visiting essential businesses and services that are open in Alert Level 4 (e.g., pharmacy, supermarket, health services). It is also a requirement for staff to wear a mask. There is an exemption in place for children under 12 and those with physical or mental disabilities, who are not required to wear a mask.

COVID-19 vaccination information

The COVID-19 vaccination programme has resumed. With vaccination sites operating under Alert Level 4 conditions, capacity will be reduced due to physical distancing requirements and other safety measures. The reduced capacity means there may be some appointments that may need to be postponed. You will be contacted by your DHB, or healthcare provider if this applies to you.

For students: Hardship support is available

You will continue to get your regular Student Allowance and Student Loan living costs payments if you’re still enrolled and studying.

Talk to your education provider about your course, and any questions or concerns you have about being able to continue to study.

Answers to questions about Student Allowance and living cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website

StudyLink can also help over the phone and through MyStudyLink in most cases.

Student hardship

If you need extra help during this time you can find information about emergency assistance on StudyLink’s website 

Hardship Fund for Learners

The Hardship Fund for Learners was extended earlier this year and continues to be available for the 2021 calendar year.

This is a limited fund intended to provide temporary financial assistance for learners who are facing barriers to continuing their study or training because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund can also be used to support learners who are experiencing technology-related financial challenges.

The fund will also be accessible to Transitional Industry Training Organisations. The Tertiary Education Commission is currently working through a process to facilitate this and will provide updates on the TEC website 

 Most domestic learners are eligible to receive support through this Fund, however due to full allocation there is limited accessibility of funding available and access to the hardship fund may not be guaranteed.

 If you are experiencing hardship, we encourage you contact your provider directly and talk about the support you require.

 Student Hardship for International Learners

 There is also support available for International students:

Stress counselling and support

Emergencies are usually unexpected, sudden, and overwhelming. It's natural to feel emotionally and physically drained.

You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. Friends and family members not affected by the event can help you cope.

You can get more help and information from:

In an emergency always call 111.

Draft Policy Statement: High value international education consultation

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have decided to delay the Auckland workshops and will now hold all workshops online for the "Draft policy statement: High-value international education".

Virtual session dates and times are: 

  • 23 August | 10.00 - 11.30am - Christchurch
  • 24 August | 10.00 - 11.30am - Wellington
  • 27 August | 1:00 – 2:30pm - Auckland
  • 27 August | 3:00 – 4:30pm - Auckland

We remain very interested in your feedback as this will help us define what ‘high value’ means for international education going forward. Your views will help inform the final policy statement which will give a clear steer on the direction for international education as we rebuild and deliver on the longer-term goals outlined in the International Education Strategy.  

If you would like to attend, you can register online 

Advice for people who live in, or visited Auckland or the Coromandel Peninsula

With new cases announced in the latest update, the number of locations of interest have continued to grow.

For those in the Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula regions – and those who have visited these regions in the last few weeks – we encourage you to continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19.

It is also critical that people moving around in public spaces during Alert Level 4 frequently check the locations of interest page. This includes essential workers checking locations of interest where they may have worked in or have visited.

If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page:

COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Update: 15 January 2021: Border exception for some returning international tertiary students

COVID-19 Update - Border exception for some returning international tertiary students

On 14 January 2021, the Government approved an exception class for 1,000 bachelor’s degree level and above tertiary international students to return to New Zealand and continue their studies. These students need to hold or have held a valid visa to study in 2020 and have studied in New Zealand in 2019, or 2020 towards their current qualification and be returning to study with their current provider. 

This exception provides the sector a further opportunity to welcome back international students and delivers on a part of the Government’s long-term recovery plan for the international education sector.

The Government will continue to work with the sector to consider how suitable models can be developed to bring in more students over time as and when it is safe to do so. Capacity at MIQ will remain a significant consideration in any further exceptions and International Education also needs to be considered alongside a number of competing priority sectors.  Providers should take a conservative approach to planning for 2021 and prepare for a range of scenarios.

Eligibility criteria and process

To be eligible for this border exception students will need to

  • be studying at bachelor degree level or above
  • hold or have held a visa for 2020
  • have studied in New Zealand in 2019, or 2020 toward their current qualification and be returning to study with their current provider, and
  • provide evidence that they have access to $20,000 annually to meet living costs.

Priority will be given to students who are closest to graduation.

Students will need to undertake the border exception process with Immigration New Zealand.

Entry for these students will be phased and dependent on the availability of space in our managed isolation and quarantine facilities to ensure their arrival does not impact on the ability of New Zealander citizens and residents to return home.

All students entering New Zealand will comply with Government advice and regulation relating to COVID-19, which includes a 14-day managed isolation period in Government facilities, payment of the isolation charges and relevant mandatory COVID-19 testing. Students will need to book their space through the allocation system and are will be responsible for the standard charges for managed isolation. 

Students with questions about this border exception should contact their providers in the first instance.  The Ministry will work directly with Peak Body representatives to manage the process.

Read the Minister’s announcement.

View information from the Ministry of Education.

Update: 23 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

Due to increasing numbers of community cases of COVID-19 in the Auckland region and several cases in Wellington, as well as the large geographical spread of people isolating due to potential exposure to the virus, the government has confirmed that New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 4 until Friday 27 August 11.59pm. Further decisions will be made and announced this Friday afternoon. Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4 until 31st August with a further review on Monday 30th August.

COVID-19 communications resources

We have a range of COVID-19 resources that are available for you to use and share with your networks to help communicate the rules and guidance around Alert Level 4. If you require any further support regarding access to these resources, please contact Alexandra.grace@education.govt.nz  

Tertiary provider site access

Thank you for your patience as we work to update the Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations on how to operate under different Alert Levels with the new site access rules and exemptions.

In the meantime, our detailed guidance on the current rules regarding site access for tertiary providers is set out below. This pulls together all of the site-access guidance we have provided in our previous recent Bulletins, and reflects the current health order, COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021 and exemptions:

  • All tertiary educational facilities must be closed, with the exception of necessary student accommodation, and those deemed ‘essential’ services.
  • Site access is permitted for tertiary providers for exceptional circumstances only (outlined below), and several public health measures are required. Where site access is permitted, a minimum number of staff should be onsite for a minimum amount of time. Infection prevention measures and contact tracing systems must be in place, and physical distancing requirements must be maintained at all times. If there is more than one staff member on site, staff must wear a face covering.
  • Very limited site access is permitted for tertiary staff for the following purposes only (and providers do not need to apply for permission to access sites in these circumstances):
    • Caring for animals.
    • Maintenance and management of facilities and ICT infrastructure if the task is essential to operations, and there is no way to complete the task remotely. Examples include maintaining IT servers and IT equipment critical to delivering distance education, securing the site, removing fire hazards, or essential contractors in the event of damage at a tertiary organisation.
    • Limited scientific services are designated as essential (e.g., significant research facilities, including animal facilities, clinical trials, and infrastructure that requires constant attention (for example, samples, collections, and storage facilities), that are important to New Zealand). Tertiary providers may only continue research if it is allowed under Schedule 2 of the current health order.
    • Collating and arranging for the delivery of educational resources to students who are otherwise unable to access resources remotely and undertaking contactless deliveries to those students is allowed. In addition to the public health measures above, staff undertaking deliveries must wear a face covering and keep physically distanced from others (2-metres). There must be no physical contact between staff and the person receiving the educational resources. Students are not permitted to pick up educational resources from TEOs.
    • Staff may collect items which are essential to allow themselves to work remotely from their homes.

Any site access outside of the above purposes will require an exemption from the Director-General of Health. The threshold for access outside of the approved purposes above is extremely high. TEOs that consider they need to access sites for reasons other than those provided above should contact the TEC to discuss this.  Please email customerservice@tec.govt.nz, with the subject heading “site access enquiry”, or get in touch with your Relationship Manager.

Mandatory requirement for contact tracing and QR codes

Record-keeping will become a requirement for busy places and events across all Alert Levels. Those responsible for relevant businesses, facilities and events will need to ensure that visitors over the age of 12 scan the QR code for their place or gathering with the COVID-19 Tracer App, or provide details in a contact tracing record.

TEOs should already have systems and processes in place to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that each person entering their facilities makes a record of their visit, consistent with the Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. The new mandatory record-keeping requirement is intended to apply to businesses and services that may not currently have adequate record keeping.  Examples include cafes, restaurants, exercise facilities, bars, libraries and more, including those that may operate on TEO campuses. A full list of places where record keeping is mandatory is available on the Covid19.govt.nz website.

Mandatory record keeping will come into effect 7 days after an Alert Level change. This will give relevant businesses and locations adequate time to ensure they have systems and processes in place to ensure customers/visitors can record their visit. Further guidance will be released soon to support businesses and help them comply with the new requirements shortly.

Information on how to display your QR code is available on the unite against COVID-19 website.

Advice for COVID-19 cases in tertiary education providers or accommodation

For students: Please follow COVID-19 regulations and advice from health officials and keep in regular contact with the providers. Any student (or tertiary staff member) who feels unwell or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately contact their TEO and contact Healthline.

Students who left residential accommodation before lockdown or during the 48-hour grace period, to join a “bubble” with friends, family or whānau, are not permitted to return to their student accommodation during Alert Level 4.

For providers: If a COVID-19 case is linked with a tertiary education or accommodation facility, the provider will be contacted by the Medical Officer or Health or their local public health authority. If a tertiary provider becomes aware of a case associated with their education or accommodation facility and they haven’t received notification from health authorities, they should immediately contact Sandra Ramsay or Gillian Dudgeon at the TEC at or the local public health unit.

Tertiary providers must follow Ministry of Health advice for organisations that are identified as a location of interest.  Guidance is available on the Ministry of Health website. The number one priority continues to be the welfare of students and staff and ensuring they remain safe and well. We encourage providers to continue to familiarise themselves with their international and domestic pastoral code obligations (see also the interim code guidance).

As outlined within the interim code for domestic tertiary students, providers must ensure that:

  • they have appropriate welfare checks, including regular checks on residents identified as being at risk
  • there is a managerial oversight of accommodation staff at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) so that issues can be escalated when they occur
  • there is a clear defined processes within the student accommodation for referring and responding to instances of resident behaviours that are a risk to self or others,
  • there is a clear/timely escalation process of any incidents;
  • and that they have contact details of a nominated person should a resident’s wellbeing or behaviour cause concern

The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found Ministry of Health website.         

Emergency procedures at all Alert Levels

At all alert levels, you are required to follow normal emergency procedures (e.g., in the case of fire, earthquake, tsunami etc). Emergency services will be accessible at all alert levels. The priority is to ensure all students and staff are safe.

Once you are safe, then take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as physical distancing or wearing a face covering.

More information on emergency services and healthcare access is available on the COVID-19 website.

COVID-19 vaccination information

The Government has expanded the list of essential workers eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to include people who work in accommodation services (including tertiary accommodation providers). DHBs will work directly with employers of Group 2(c) workers to organise vaccinations.

Full details are available on the Unite against COVID-19 website

COVID-19 vaccines | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Vaccination sites continue to operate under Alert Level 4 conditions. Unless you have been contacted to reschedule your appointment, please attend your vaccination appointment. By getting vaccinated, you’ll be protecting yourself and playing your part to protect New Zealand. It will save lives.

A whānau-centred approach to vaccinations continues – that means that whānau Māori and Pacific families can be vaccinated when a member of the family is eligible to be vaccinated.

You can go online to the national booking system BookMyVaccine.nz, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot. Detailed advice on COVID-19 vaccination is available from the Ministry of Health, which can be accessed on the Ministry of Health website.

Hardship Fund for Learners

The Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) remains available for the 2021 calendar year. It serves two purposes, to provide assistance to learners facing hardship and provide funding to learners for technology-related costs where COVID-19 restrictions remove the options for face-to-face study. 

For providers: Please encourage your learners in need of support to access the funding through you. If you have questions on your existing allocation, think you will either need additional funding or an allocation, please contact the TEC through the normal channels.  

You can also find further information on the HAFL webpage.

Stress counselling and support

During this time, it's natural to feel emotionally and physically drained. You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. Friends and family members can help you to cope.

You can also get help and information from:

In an emergency always call 111.

Locations of interest

We encourage you to continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19. If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page:

COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Update: 1 March 2021: COVID-19 Update

Last Saturday the government announced that from 6am, Sunday, 28 February, the Auckland Region will be at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will be at Alert Level 2, for seven (7) days.

You will be familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations, and we have confidence that you will continue to implement appropriate measures for your staff and students. However for quick reference on how to operate under different Alert Levels, see Detailed tertiary guidelines for alert levels. Note we have updated some guidance related to tertiary accommodation, set out in the section ‘Detailed guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations’.

Welfare of students and staff

This will remain an unsettling time for some. As always, the number one priority remains the welfare of students and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. Providers are reminded of their international and domestic pastoral code obligations. The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, view on the website.          

Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT)

As you know, a new case of COVID-19 (Case M) has been identified as an MIT student. Our thoughts are with the MIT community and we thank them for all the leadership they are showing through this process. Ministry of Health has advised that under Alert Level 3 all MIT students should stay home and close contacts will be followed up by Public Health staff. You can check for updates on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest, available on the Ministry of Health website.

Detailed guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations

As a result of the recent change to alert levels, we have updated some guidance relating to students’ movements in and out of accommodation.

Tertiary accommodation advice for Alert Level Three

  • We strongly recommend that during an Alert Level 3 lockdown, where possible, students remain in their current accommodation.
    • Students already in accommodation (including hostels, halls of residence, and self-contained flats) can remain there. Student accommodation should remain open. Providers should support the safety and wellbeing of students and allow them to self-isolate, as required. Students are also able to travel home if necessary.
    • Students due to go into student accommodation in Alert Level 3 areas should remain in their current accommodation if possible.
    • Students residing in an Alert Level 3 area but due to begin study outside of this area should remain in their current accommodation if possible.
  • Students do have permission under the current COVID-19 Health Order to move into their new accommodation at Alert Level 3 if necessary, assuming they are relocating on a permanent or long-term basis, but we would advise against this unless either:
    • it is not feasible for them to continue to stay in their present accommodation; and/or
    • staying in their current accommodation would prevent them from participating in classes or other activities of the programme of study they are enrolled in (this will not usually be the case if their place of study is at Alert Level 3).
  • If relocating on a permanent or long-term basis and needing to travel across an Alert Level boundary to get there, students will require evidence to show at the boundary. This could include proof of enrolment, and/or proof of accommodation arrangements. But no special permission to travel is required. Detailed information is available on the Covid-19 website.
  • If, in any of the above scenarios, a student requires additional support to move (for example, to move personal items, or support to set-up in their new accommodation if this is their first time moving out of home), there is allowance for a single support person. If a student was going to be accompanied by more than one person, an exemption would need to be sought from the Ministry of Health.
  • Students with questions or concerns about their accommodation situation should contact their accommodation provider in the first instance.

Tertiary accommodation advice for Alert Level Two

  • Students are able to move into new accommodation. This includes hostels, halls of residence, and self-contained flats. Scenarios related to moving from an Alert Level 2 area into an Alert Level 3 area, and vice versa, are covered in the above section ‘Tertiary accommodation advice for Alert Level Three’.
  • Alert Level Two protocols should remain in place in new and existing accommodation.  This includes displaying QR codes and providing the ability to self-isolate if necessary.
  • Guidelines for accommodation providers are available in Detailed tertiary guidelines for alert levels (pdf) document. Also available to download as a word document Detailed tertiary guidelines for alert levels (Word, 48 Kb)

Update: 26 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

Thank you

We know that the shift to Alert Level 4 generates a great deal of work and we truly appreciate your efforts to keep tauira connected to education, while we stay home to protect each other.

New Zealand will continue to remain in Alert Level 4 until Friday 27 August 11.59pm. Further decisions will be announced this Friday afternoon. Auckland will remain in Alert Level 4 until 31st August and further decisions will be reviewed on Monday 30th August.

Detailed guidelines are now updated for Alert Level four

We have now updated our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations on how to operate under Alert Level 4 to reflect current exemption criteria for tertiary provider site access.

NZQA Annual Return Statutory Declaration deadline extended to 30 September

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) rules require tertiary education organisations to provide NZQA with an annual statutory declaration. This declaration attests that the organisation is complying with their obligations under the Education and Training Act 2020 and the NZQA rules. The initial deadline for this was 31 August 2021.

This deadline has now been extended to 30 September.  If providers have completed theirs, they are welcome to send this in. Information on the process is available on the NZQA website.  

Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Financial viability assessment

Financial viability requirements for all TEC-funded private training establishments (PTEs) are required to demonstrate that PTEs provide quality assured qualifications which align to the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) and are delivered through a financially viable entity.

We recognise that it is difficult for TEOs to get statutory documents witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown. Therefore, PTEs will be able to get an extension to the due date for the statutory documents that they are required to submit for the financial viability assessment.

If you are required to complete a financial viability assessment in 2021 and cannot get financial statements witnessed in time, please call 0800 601 301 or contact customerservice@tec.govt.nz, with your EDUMIS number and financial viability assessment in the subject line and we will grant an extension.  Alternatively, you can get in touch directly with Bruce Lynch at bruce.lynch@tec.govt.nz to request an extension.

TEC is happy to also accept documents signed electronically, for example via Docusign.

Further information on financial viability requirements is available on the TEC website.

NCEA assessment dates pushed back by 2 weeks

NCEA end of year exam and portfolio submission dates have been pushed back by 2 weeks, to recognise the disruption lockdown is causing to senior secondary students.

More information is available at www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea2021

Hardship Fund for Learners

The Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) remains available for the 2021 calendar year, and is intended to provide temporary financial assistance for learners who are facing barriers to continuing their study or training, including technology-related costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund can be used to support learners who are experiencing technology-related financial challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions and more information is available on the TEC website.

 Funding is allocated to providers who work with their learners to disburse assistance based on need. The latest allocation of funding is available on the TEC website.

You can also find further information on the HAFL webpage.

Financial support for businesses and international students

Business support

There is information about financial support to help with COVID-related financial pressures; businesses, organisations and self-employed people can now get information on support that is available on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Emergency benefit for temporary visa holders

There is also support available for International students which is available until 31 August.  Full information is available on the Work and Income website.

COVID-19 misinformation

It is important to be mindful of COVID-19 misinformation, and rumours.  The Ministry of Health continues to hold responsibility for COVID-19 Alert Level changes.  Trusted COVID-19 information outlets can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Misinformation and scams | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

School hostels at Alert Level 4

School hostels will remain closed at Alert Level 4. However, the exception will be if there are boarders who cannot safely return home and who must continue to be cared for (for example, international students).
 
If you do have boarders on-site at Alert Level 4, please follow the requirements specified for Alert Level 3 for those boarders and staff. Staff should remain living on-site rather than mixing their home bubble and hostel bubble. As at Alert level 3, the biggest focus should be (wherever possible) that bubbles within your hostel do not mix. A minimum of a two-metre minimum distance should be kept between bubbles.
 
Consider arrangements for purchase and delivery of food and goods, minimise contact with others outside the hostel, and maintain strict hygiene and physical distancing protocols with external people. All boarders and staff must follow the public health requirements when outside the hostel.
 
A reminder that guidance for school hostels for all alert levels is on the Education website.

COVID-19 vaccination information for essential workers

The Government has expanded the list of essential workers eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to include people who work in accommodation services (including tertiary accommodation providers).

Due to the number of people and organisations involved, the Ministry of Health is prioritising those who are most at risk.  Those people therefore being prioritised in the first instance are:

  1. Frontline staff in services and businesses in which customers/clients enter their workplaces under Alert Level 4, for example supermarkets and dairies.
  2. Other services/business that have direct in person interactions with customers/clients under Alert Level 4, for example hostels, accommodation (including tertiary accommodation providers), foodbanks, social and community services.
  3. Essential workers in critical infrastructure roles for New Zealand, for example distribution centre staff in the grocery industry, and electricity and water companies.

The Ministry of Health will be in discussions with many organisations/companies about how their staff can be vaccinated. If you have not yet been contacted and/or your organisation does not fall into any of the above three categories, we will be in touch as soon as practicable.

Full details are available on vaccinations for essential workers is available on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

COVID-19 information for Māori and Pacific communities

A whānau-centred approach to vaccinations continues – that means whānau Māori and Pacific families can be vaccinated when a member of the family is eligible to be vaccinated.

When you get a vaccination, you are not just protecting yourself but also your aiga, friends, churches and communities. Our Pacific health providers have been working very hard to support the roll out. This includes supporting Pacific families to book and get to their vaccination appointments, leading Pacific specific vaccination events and sites, coordinating community information sessions, assisting in translation services.

Further information on support packages, business and learning support is available for Pacific families on the  Unite against COVID-19 website.

Karawhiua is a campaign for whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and was created to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing. There are various resources, factsheets and social media tiles that are available and can be used for sharing. Karawhiua is being led by Te Puni Kōkiri and is co-delivered by Te Hiringa Hauora (Health Promotion Agency) and supported by the Ministry of Health. More information is available on the Karawhiua website.

Further information on support packages, business and learning support is available for whānau, hapū and iwi Māori on the Covid-19 website.

You can go online to the national booking system BookMyVaccine.nz, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot. Detailed advice on COVID-19 vaccination is available from the Ministry of Health, which can be accessed on the Health website.

COVID-19 information for disabled communities

Disabled people are included in Group 3 of our vaccine rollout. People in Group 3 can book their vaccination now.

 You can go online to the national booking system BookMyVaccine.nz, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot. Detailed advice on COVID-19 vaccination is available from the Ministry of Health, which can be accessed on their website.

Further information on supports available for disabled people is available on the Covid-19 website.

 COVID-19 communications resources

We continue to have a range of COVID-19 resources that are available for you to use and share with your networks to help communicate the rules and guidance around Alert Level 4. If you require any further support regarding access to these resources, please contact Alexandra.grace@education.govt.nz 

COVID-19 basics

While New Zealand continues to remain under Alert Level 4, it has been great seeing everyone being compliant with the Alert Level rules. The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Update: 1 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

All of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 4 until 11.59pm today. From that time, New Zealand regions south of the Auckland regional boundary will shift into Alert Level 3 and stay at Alert Level 3 for one week, with review on Monday 6 September.

For those of you in Auckland, you’ll stay in Alert Level 4 for a further two weeks until Monday 13 September, while those of you in Northland will remain in Alert Level 4 until at least 11:59pm this Thursday 2 September.

Alert Level 3 – Updated Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations

On Sunday 29 August, we updated our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations based on public health advice in advance of the next COVID-19 Public Health Response health order.  

We can now confirm that the updated Guidelines are consistent with the Public Health Response Order, which you can find on the Legislation website.

The key changes in our Alert Level 3 guidance are: staff/student bubbles should be limited to 10 people or fewer and at-risk staff should not be onsite unless fully vaccinated. We highlighted these and other minor changes in our updated guidance to help TEOs prepare for Alert Level 3 in our last bulletin. These can be found in the Tertiary and International Bulletin 29 August 2021.

Class time limits update

We have made one minor additional clarification to our detailed guidance on time limits for classes at Alert Level 3. The Ministry of Health’s Public Health team has confirmed that the time limit of two hours stated in our guidelines applies to classes held indoors only.

Classes (including assessments and examinations) that take place outdoors are not subject to time limits, but all other relevant infection control measures apply – including physical distancing of 1m, contact tracing, staff/student bubble limits of 10, and sanitisation of shared equipment between use. Face coverings are strongly encouraged.

Guidance on requirements for on-site tertiary exams at Alert Level 3 updated

The rules for on-site examinations at Alert Level 3 have changed, due to the increased risk of the Delta variant.  On-site examinations will only be allowed at Alert Level 3 for existing student/staff bubbles of 10, where it has not been possible to deliver teaching online.

Our detailed guidance on the requirements for on-site tertiary exams at Alert Level 3 has now been updated and can be found on the Education website.

Update to tertiary student accommodation and travel guidance

On Sunday, 29 August we also updated our guidance on tertiary student accommodation and the key points are:  

  • Students in an Alert Level 4 area must continue to remain in their current accommodation, unless there is an emergency situation
  • Students in an Alert Level 3 area are advised to remain in their current accommodation. However, students may move out of their accommodation in an Alert Level 3 area if relocating on a permanent or long-term basis to accommodation in an Alert Level 3 area or returning to their primary home or place of residence in an Alert Level 4 area provided conditions are met.
  • Students are strongly discouraged from moving into or returning to student accommodation at Alert Level 3 if they have been offsite for Alert Level 4, unless it is an emergency.
  • Students must not change their accommodation if they have been directed by a medical officer of health to isolate.

COVID-19 vaccinations are open to everyone from 1 September

Bookings for everyone aged 12 and over open from tomorrow. You can go online to the national booking system BookMyVaccine.nz, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot.

Vaccines and healthcare for international students

All publicly funded COVID-19 related care – including testing, treatment and vaccinations – is provided to anyone who needs it, including international students, free of charge.

Students can read (and share with their families) translated information on New Zealand’s vaccine rollout on the COVD-19 website. More COVID-19 information for international students, including health and wellbeing advice, can be found on NauMai NZ COVID-19 page.

Hardship Fund for Learners

The Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) remains available for the 2021 calendar year, and is intended to provide temporary financial assistance for learners who are facing barriers to continuing their study or training, including technology-related costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has allocated HAFL funding to 90 TEOs in 2021. For this year, the TEC did not allocate HAFL to TEOs that had previously declined to receive HAFL funding in 2020. TEC are reaching out to these TEOs now, as well as to TEOs that declined to receive funding in 2021, to check if their need has changed. If any funding remains after this, the TEC is considering how that funding might be allocated to others.

There is no application process for HAFL funding, please see TEC’s Funding and Payments page for more information.

This week, TEC have also allocated HAFL to TEOs receiving funding from the Industry Training Fund to support work-based learners with access to technology.

More information is available on the HAFL webpage.

Mental health support during Alert Level 4 and 3

This can be an unsettling time, and the uncertainty can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, upset or frustrated. Looking after you mental wellbeing is important, and can be supported through accessing a range of the following digital, self-help resources:

There are also a number of helplines that are available and can connect people to trained counsellors. These include:

  • 1737 which is available 24/7 via free call or text
  • Youthline which can be accessed by calling 0800 376 633 or by free texting 234. Youthline also has a web chat function
  • OUTline has a free helpline available between 6pm and 9pm for members of the rainbow community. This can be accessed by calling 0800 688 5463.

If you, or someone you know, is in need of urgent mental health or addiction treatment, crisis mental health and addiction services are continuing to operate. Call your local hospital or district health board about how to get help. The numbers for crisis mental health teams are also on the Ministry of Health website.   

If you have immediate concerns for the safety of yourself or someone else, please call 111.

Support for Pacific students

In addition to the support and services available to all New Zealanders, there are Pacific mental health and addiction providers that have activated pandemic plans and are supporting their communities digitally where possible. These providers include:

  • Pasifika Futures in Waitematā, Canterbury and Counties Manukau
  • Fonua Ola in Counties Manukau
  • Kāute Pasifika in Waikato
  • Pacific Health Service Hutt Valley and Naku Enei in the Hutt Valley
  • Vaka Tautua in Capital and Coast DHB and Auckland

Ministry of Health are in touch with the pacific mental health community in Auckland and are looking at options to support as needed.

 

Update: 7 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

Mālō e lelei and Happy Tongan Language week,

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

The government has announced that the rest of New Zealand beyond the Southern and Northern Auckland regional boundary will shift into Alert Level 2 from 11.59pm today with a review of settings on Monday 13 September. Auckland will continue to remain in Alert Level 4 until Monday 13 September.

While this is welcome news for many of you, to those in Auckland who remain at Alert Level 4 – Kia Kaha’.

Alert Level 2 – Updated Guidelines for Tertiary Organisations

We have updated the Alert Level 2 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations in advance of the next COVID-19 Public Health Response health order. This is to give TEOs and students outside of Auckland as much clarity as possible as you prepare for a change to Alert Level 2 tonight. Once the Alert Level 2 Public Health Response Order is confirmed, we will do a final check to ensure all aspects of the order are reflected in our guidance. If there are further changes, we’ll notify you immediately.

In general, our Alert Level 2 guidelines outline minimum requirements and recommendations for TEOs operating in Alert Level 2. However, TEOs may wish to implement additional public health protocols on campus, e.g. requiring face coverings to be worn, to meet the health and safety needs of their campus community. Providers have their usual rights to set rules for conduct on their premises, and we recommend that they do so in consultation with staff and students.

Key points to note on our guidance:

  • Large teaching and learning spaces: Capacity limits for large teaching and learning spaces of a maximum of 100 staff and students, with physical distancing of 1-metre, are strongly recommended. Where course enrolment exceeds recommended capacity limits, TEOs should offer courses online and/or implement alternative in-person teaching and learning arrangements. TEOs should have protocols in place to ensure staff, students and visitors maintain physical distancing when entering and leaving teaching and learning spaces as appropriate – for example, ‘one-way doors’ for entrances and exits, adjusting timetabling to provide more time in between classes, or requiring face coverings if 1-metre physical distancing is not practicable.
  • Libraries: The rules for TEO libraries at Alert Level 2 depend on whether access is restricted. Where access is restricted to staff and students, libraries may open in accordance with the public health control measures for TEOs e.g. physical distancing of 1-metre, and face coverings are strongly recommended. Where a TEO library is publicly accessible, it should operate in accordance with the public health control measures that apply to public libraries e.g. physical distancing of 2-metres, and mandatory face coverings.
  • Research and related activities: We have clarified public health measures for research and related activities, which include maintaining physical distancing of at least 1-metre at all times; face coverings, which are strongly recommended in research and laboratory spaces; controlled group sizes, subject to health and safety assessments; and contact tracing systems.
  • Student accommodation and travel: Students are not required to wear face coverings at tertiary hostels and halls of residence as these are their places of residence, but may wish to do so in shared and communal areas. On travel to accommodation: students in Alert Level 2 areas may travel domestically to student accommodation in an Alert Level 2 areas. Students in Alert Level 2 areas may also return to their primary home or place of residence in Alert Level 4 areas. Students must carry evidence of their purpose of travel and destination if returning home from an Alert Level 2 area to an Alert Level 4 area, e.g. proof of accommodation arrangements. Once home, they are not able to return to Alert Level 2 while their area is in Alert Level 4. For more information, see Personal travel across an Alert Level boundary | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz).
  • Travel across Alert Level boundaries:  As we prepare to move to an Alert Level 4/2 split, please remember that at this stage an exemption is needed from the Ministry of Health in order for someone to move between Alert Level areas.

We also confirmed the following key points in our bulletin yesterday:

  • Noho marae: Overnight noho marae will not be permitted at Alert Level 2, due to the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 with cumulative exposure time.
  • Contact-tracing: As at Alert Level 3, TEOs should have contact tracing systems in place for everyone on-site at Alert Level 2. TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances, and ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing. In particular, TEOs are responsible for ensuring contact tracing information that identifies which students and staff (and any other visitors) have been in each ‘controlled learning space’ and ‘other controlled environments’ and at what time, is collected (whether via the COVID-19 Tracer App, or other means).
  • Face coverings: Staff and students should bring face coverings or masks with them when attending on-site activities at Alert Level 2. Face coverings must be worn at student health services, pharmacies, banks and other retailers on campus. Face coverings are strongly recommended at all other times – including teaching and learning spaces, and research and laboratory spaces, where practicable – but are not mandatory under the Health Order.

Sponsored Data

The Ministry of Health’s ‘Sponsored Data’ initiative allows access to key health sector websites via mobile phone without incurring data use charges.

Sponsored Data (also known as zero-rated data) removes the barrier around mobile data charges by providing free access to key health sector websites for anyone using the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone, 2degrees, Slingshot or Orcon mobile networks. All mobile data charges for content hosted on these websites are automatically charged back to the Ministry of Health.

Tertiary education organisations are encouraged to share this information particularly to learners for whom the cost of mobile data may be a barrier to accessing essential health and wellbeing information and digital health services. More information is available on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Whakakore | Alert Level 4 –Guidance reminder for the Auckland region

TEOs and students should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 4 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. All tertiary education facilities should continue to be closed except for necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’

Further detailed information on Alert Level 4 guidelines is available on the COVID-19 website.

Update: 23 March 2021: COVID-19 Update

On Saturday, 27 February, the government announced that from 6am, Sunday, 28 February, the Auckland Region will be at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will be at Alert Level 2, for 7 days.

We know that you are familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations and continue to implement appropriate measures for your staff and students. You can read the detailed Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations on how to operate under different Alert Levels, on the Ministry of Education website.

Welfare of students and staff

This will remain an unsettling time for some. As always, the number one priority remains the welfare of students and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well. Providers are reminded of their international and domestic pastoral code obligations. The Ministry of Health website has a range of mental health and wellbeing resources to assist, they can be found on the Ministry of Health website.     

Alert Level 2/3 border crossings

At Alert Level 3 students and staff are strongly advised to stay where they are unless they have a compelling reason to move and are eligible to travel.

If students or staff wish to travel for personal reasons between Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 2 regions, they need to check whether they are eligible to travel on the Unite Against Covid-19 website

The full list of permitted reasons, and what evidence people need, is on the Unite Against Covid-19 website. If they don’t meet the permitted criteria they may apply for an exemption on the Ministry of Health website

Information about travel across the Auckland regional boundary for work reasons, including what is permitted and how to apply for an exemption if necessary, is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website.

Information for people who have visited Auckland

The Ministry of Health has advised that students, staff and others that have visited or left Auckland recently do the following:

  • Check the locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19 by being in the same place at the same time as a confirmed case. If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19, including some of the less usual symptoms like muscle aches and pains and fatigue. Details of symptoms to look out for are on the Ministry of Health website.
  • Keep a record of where you’ve been. Use the COVID Tracer App to scan QR codes and make sure you’ve got Bluetooth turned on in the app. This helps with contact tracing.
  • Everyone should follow the Alert Level guidance relevant for where they are staying.

Managed Isolation and Quarantine and Immigration New Zealand changes

Following a recent review of the costs of running Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ), changes are being made to the fees charged to temporary entry visa class holders, including any international students arriving in New Zealand.  Full details are available on the MIQ website.

On 23 February 2021, Immigration New Zealand announced they will bring more visa processing onshore and close offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by March 2021. Full details are available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

If you have questions about how these changes affect the tertiary sector, please get in contact with the Ministry of Education. 

COVID-19 testing and treatment

Everyone in New Zealand, including international students, can get free COVID-19 testing and treatment — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident. This access is irrespective of citizenship, visa status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage.  

You may need to pay for a test if it’s for the purpose of entering another country.

You can find more information about this on the Ministry of Health's website.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website. 

Update: 17 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update – Auckland community case and change to Alert Level 4

 You will be aware a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified in the community in Auckland.  As a result, and because of the much greater risk associated with the Delta variant, all of New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 for 3 days.  Face coverings are strongly recommended when outside or in public places i.e. the supermarket. Auckland and Coromandel will likely remain at Level 4 for 7 days. This will take effect from 11:59 pm, tonight and will be under constant review.

There is a 48-hour window for travel, to allow people to return home. We encourage them to do so only if they can do so safely, with a minimum of personal contact. After this time, travel will be heavily restricted.

 While this is the news none of us wanted, it is a response that had been anticipated in recent weeks. This extremely short and sharp shift in alert levels will support health authorities to prevent widespread infection in the community.

 Acting with extreme caution has served us well for New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, and we all know what we can do to help keep our communities as safe as possible. The below information is a reminder of what is required.

You will be familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations; however, here's a quick reference on how to operate under different Alert Levels.

The number one priority remains the welfare of students and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time.

Providers are reminded of their international and domestic pastoral code obligations (see also the interim code guidance ).

The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students. 

Alert Level 4 - Government advice

The guiding principles at Alert Level 4 for tertiary organisations are:

  • All tertiary education facilities must be closed from tomorrow, 18 August with the exception of necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’
  • Providers must continue to deliver education remotely where possible. This includes examinations, lectures, assessments, workshops, etc where these should be remotely where possible.
  • Where access to a tertiary site has been approved for an Essential Service, use the minimum number of people to complete the task, after consideration of workplace safety and workload.
  • Gathering of people at tertiary facilities is not allowed.

Travel and accommodation advice for students

  • Tertiary accommodation is deemed an ‘Essential service’ and is to remain open throughout the shift to Alert level 4.
  • Students are encouraged to return home at their discretion if they can do so safely and within Alert Level settings in the first 48 hours. Some students who cannot return home will need to stay in student accommodation.
  • Staff that work in student accommodation will live on site (if possible). Staff and students will be within a bubble in the accommodation (with contact contained within smaller bubbles in that accommodation). Students and staff living in tertiary accommodation should observe strict physical distancing, infection prevention measures, and ‘bubbles’ should be maintained at all times. For example, close contact should be limited to people of the same ‘bubble’ (which may be a single floor in a halls of residence); common social and recreation areas should be closed (except those shared by a single ‘bubble’); and there should be split shift access to common areas for staff.
  • Providers must support the safety and wellbeing of students and allow them to self-isolate, as required.

Advice for people who live in, or visited Auckland

If you live in Auckland or recently visited Auckland, you should continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19, by being in the same place, at the same time as the positive case. If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page:

COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

COVID-19 vaccination information

Update: 20 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

Community transmission and alert level update

There are now a number of community cases of COVID-19 in the Auckland region and Wellington region.

As a result, the government has confirmed that New Zealand will continue to remain in Alert Level 4 until Tuesday 11.59pm. Further decisions will be announced on Monday afternoon.  

New Zealand’s return to Alert Level 4 can be unsettling, and this uncertainty can have an impact on mental health. It’s important to remember that our approach has worked to date. We have stamped out COVID-19 before and we can do it again.

The number one priority continues to be the welfare of students and staff and ensuring they remain safe and well during this time. We encourage providers to continue to familiarise themselves with their international and domestic pastoral code obligations (see also the interim code guidance). The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students.

COVID-19 vaccination information

Vaccination sites will continue to operate under Alert Level 4 conditions; however capacity will be reduced due to physical distancing requirements and other safety measures. Unless you have been contacted to reschedule your appointment, please attend your vaccination appointment.

Everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over will be able to be vaccinated by the end of this year. By getting vaccinated, you’ll be protecting yourself and playing your part to protect New Zealand. It will save lives.

You can go online to BookMyVaccine.nz, the new national booking system, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot.

Detailed advice on COVID-19 vaccination is available from the Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has advice on COVID-19 vaccination and employment

Essential Workers

The Government is expanding the list of essential workers eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to include frontline staff who interact with customers and transport and logistics services directly supporting the vaccination programme. These people will be included in Group 2 in our vaccine prioritisation roll out. This group will cover frontline (non-border) health care workers and at-risk people living in settings with a high risk of transmission or exposure to COVID-19.

The new Group 2(c) includes people who work in accommodation services (which includes tertiary accommodation providers) and school hostels. The expanded list of essential workers can be read in Schedule 2 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021.

People in these workplaces will be able to receive vaccinations as soon as possible and DHBs will work directly with employers of Group 2(c) workers to organise vaccinations.

 Alert Level 4 - Government advice for tertiary education organisations

We will update the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations to reflect current Alert Level 4 settings soon. In the meantime, please continue to follow the overarching principles and the advice we have provided in our previous Bulletins.  

  • All tertiary education facilities continue to be closed with the exception of student accommodation, and they are deemed as ‘essential services.’
  • Providers should continue to deliver education remotely where possible. This includes examinations, lectures, assessments, workshops, etc.
  • Gathering of people at tertiary facilities is not allowed.

Tertiary student accommodation

  • Tertiary student accommodation is an ‘essential service’ and will remain open.
  • Staff that work in student accommodation will live on site (if possible). Staff and students will be within a bubble in the accommodation (with contact contained within smaller bubbles in that accommodation). Students and staff living in tertiary accommodation should observe strict physical distancing, infection prevention measures, and ‘bubbles’ should be maintained at all times. For example, close contact should be limited to people of the same ‘bubble’ (which may be a single floor in a halls of residence); common social and recreation areas should be closed (except those shared by a single ‘bubble’); and there should be split shift access to common areas for staff.
  • Providers must support the safety and wellbeing of students and allow them to self-isolate, as required.

Tertiary provider site access

As announced today, tertiary staff can go on site for the purpose of collecting necessary items to allow them to work remotely or collating and sending educational resources to students who are otherwise unable to access resources remotely and may undertake contactless deliveries to those students or arrange for couriers to undertake those deliveries.

 Staff should be onsite for a minimum amount of time, and if more than one staff member is onsite, physical distancing requirements must be maintained at all times and face coverings must be worn.

Any tertiary staff undertaking deliveries to students or collecting items will be required wear a face covering and keep physically distanced from others (at least two metres). There must also be no physical contact between staff and the person receiving the educational resources. Students are also not permitted to pick-up educational resources from TEOs.

Further information on site access is available in the previous Bulletin and on the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021.

Financial support for businesses

Information about financial support for business is available on the Unite against COVID-19 website.

Stress counselling and support

During this time, it's natural to feel emotionally and physically drained. You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. Friends and family members not affected by the event can help you cope.

You can get more help and information from:

In an emergency always call 111.

Locations of interest

We encourage you to continue to check the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest page to find out if you might have been exposed to COVID-19. If you were potentially exposed, follow the guidance for the particular location of interest, which is on the same page:

COVID-19: Contact tracing locations of interest | Ministry of Health NZ

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Update: 15 February 2021: COVID-19 Update - Alert Level change

Yesterday, the government announced that from 11:59pm, Sunday 14 February 2021 the Auckland Region will be at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will be at Alert Level 2, for 72 hours.  This is to ensure that we prevent the virus from spreading in our community.

You will be familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations, however a quick reference on how to operate under different Alert Levels is available on the Ministry of Education’s website.

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students, and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students.

The guiding principles for all alert levels for tertiary education organisations are found on the Ministry's website.  As per government advice the following is worth noting:

  • Travel in and out of Auckland is restricted to essential travel only. If you are an Aucklander you can travel to Auckland to return home.
  • While it is not mandatory to wear a face mask or face covering while on campus, wearing them is advised where it is not possible to practice social distancing or to carry out contact tracing. This includes, for example, in crowded spaces on TEO campuses, or teaching and learning situations where close physical contact cannot be avoided.

The guiding principles at Alert Level 3 for tertiary education organisations in the Auckland region are:

  • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely wherever possible.
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Any class, workshops, etc., that open, must be limited to 20 people or less. Each group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 20.
  • Distance learning provision will be available for other students.
  • Social distancing and contact tracing requirements must be met in all situations.
  • Wearing face masks (or other face coverings) is mandatory on public transport and advised if out and about, for example visiting the supermarket.
  • Student accommodation should remain open and in a position to provide appropriate support to allow students to self-isolate, as required.
  • Large classes or gatherings (of more than 20 people) are not allowed.
  • Workplace-based learning is subject to the policies and practices being applied to that type of workplace.
  • Vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not carry out any onsite work or learning.
  • Any educational facilities affected by COVID-19 will be closed for a specific period of time.

What this means for your staff

  • Stay home. All teaching, meetings, and other usual on-site activities should continue to be done remotely, wherever possible.
  • If teaching online is not possible, you can run limited classes for 20 people or less to resolve that issue. Strict physical distancing and ‘bubbles’ should be maintained at all times.
  • Staff can go on site to prepare for practical workshops/classes, following the physical distancing guidelines.
  • Physical distancing guidelines. 2m outside home, or 1m in controlled environments, for example onsite at TEO’s.
  • Essential only i.e. for delivery of teaching/learning, research or for effective management and governance functions that cannot be done remotely, and then only within your local region.

What this means for your students

  • Stay home. Where students can access their courses online, they will continue to do so. For those students where delivery online is not possible some facilities may open (e.g. for research, postgraduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Hostels, halls of residence or self-contained flats will remain open and Ministry of Health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing will remain.
  • Students are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings when out and about.
  • Student services, such as counselling and health services should continue to operate, with consultations delivered online or over the phone, where possible. Other supports available are;
    • GP or local community health centre
    • Youthline 0800 376 633 www.youthline.co.nz
    • Need To Talk by calling or texting 1737
    • In an emergency always call 111
  • Answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website.
  • Students can attend a class or lab or workshop with a group of other students (of up to 20 students and staff), but not then move on to multiple other classes with different groups.
  • Any class, workshop, laboratory etc., that opens, must be limited to 20 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 20.

Update: 27 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level update

The Prime Minister announced this afternoon that all of New Zealand will continue to stay in Alert Level 4 until 11:59pm on Tuesday 31 August.

From Wednesday 1 September, New Zealand, outside of Auckland and Northland, will shift into Alert Level 3. Auckland and Northland will stay in Alert Level 4, for a currently undetermined period of time, with a decision to be made on Monday.

What we’re doing is working. As we heard, Delta moves quickly, and the current outbreak in Auckland is larger than the original outbreak in March 2020. The Government’s decision to keep minimising contact is limiting the spread of cases.

Keep up the great work: continue to stay home; keep wearing a face covering. Providers and student communities are integral to this response. Koia kei a koutou – you’ve got this.

Alert Level 4 – key guidance

TEOs and students should continue to follow the updated Alert Level 4 guidance in our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations. All tertiary education facilities should continue to be closed except for necessary student accommodation, and those deemed as ‘Essential services.’

Further detailed information on Alert Level 4 guidelines is available on the COVID-19 website.

Preparing for Alert Level 3

While we wait for the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Orders (Health Order) to be confirmed, the Public Health team at the Ministry of Health has closely reviewed our current Alert Level 3 guidance for tertiary education organisations.

Based on public health advice at this time, Alert Level 3 will mean the following:

  • Any class, lab, workshop, etc. that cannot be delivered online must be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and must not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10. For example, a student may attend a class, lab or workshop with a group of other students (of up to 10 students and staff), but not then move on to multiple other classes with different groups. The staff member must not have multiple ‘bubbles’ of students. 
  • Due to the increased risk of the Delta variant, on-site examinations will only be allowed at Alert Level 3 for existing student/staff bubbles of 10, where it has not been possible to deliver teaching online. We will update our requirements for on-site tertiary exams at Alert Level 3 shortly.

In addition to the Alert Level 3 requirements that apply to all New Zealanders, these new recommendations by Public Health further support a lowering of risk for staff and students on campus.

We will provide full and updated guidance for Alert Level 3 in a future bulletin, and update our guidelines for tertiary education organisation to reflect the Public Health advice, as well as the requirements noted in the Health Order as soon as this becomes available.

This will include more guidance on whether students in Alert Level 3 areas will be allowed to relocate and in what circumstances. We reiterate that students must continue to remain in their current accommodation at Alert Level 4. Relocation is not permitted.

International Code obligations for under-18 international students in Managed Isolation & Quarantine (MIQ)

In the event that an under-18 international student tests positive for Covid-19 and has to enter MIQ, international Code signatory providers need to consider their international Code obligations alongside MOH orders and MIQ regulations.

Please contact NZQA via 0800 697 296 (and ask to be put through to the Code team) or code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz, if you require further assistance in regard to the international Code.

Activation of alternative ID verification process

TEOs receiving on-Plan funding from the TEC are required to verify learner identity and eligibility for enrolment, usually by sighting an original or certified copy of an identity document.

This may not be possible while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Therefore, TEOs are authorised to accept identification documents submitted electronically, such as a scanned copy or a photo emailed to your organisation.

If a learner is unable to provide a certified copy of their identification document, they must make a declaration to state that they have submitted a true copy of the original document. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this is an acceptable form of identity verification until further notice. We suggest that you make a template of that declaration for all enrolling learners. The learner’s declaration must be provided in the form prescribed below.

I certify that every document I have submitted as part of the enrolment process at [TEO name] is a true copy of the original document. I will produce the original if requested by [TEO name] at a future date.

Full name: [full name as per identification document]

Signature: [pen or electronic signature]

Date: [insert]

If you have any questions, please contact the TEC Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or customerservice@tec.govt.nz

Independent Assurance Practitioners Reviews and the Student Fee Protection Audit

NZQA has extended the deadline from 31 August to 30 September for those providers who are due to lodge their Independent Assurance Practitioners Reviews and the Student Fee Protection Audit Opinions.

COVID-19: locations of interest, vaccines and the basics

Locations of interest

With a high number of locations of interest, we ask that providers continue to be diligent and contact their stakeholders directly, as they have been doing, if they become a location of interest.

Vaccines

You can go online to the national booking system BookMyVaccine.nz, or phone the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 to reserve your spot. Detailed advice on COVID-19 vaccination is available from the Ministry of Health, which can be accessed on the Health website.

COVID-19 basics

The Ministry of Health continues to remind everyone to please remain vigilant and stick to the basics:

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and get advice about getting tested.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.
  • In an emergency always call 111.

Update: 30 August 2021: COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

All of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 4 until 11.59pm on Tuesday 31 August. From that time, all New Zealand outside of Auckland and Northland will shift into Alert Level 3. Auckland and Northland will stay at Alert Level 4 for a further period, which will be decided on Monday 30 August.

In tertiary education, all teaching should continue to be delivered remotely, wherever possible. At alert level 3 Some facilities may open for limited activities involving small groups (up to 10 people including tutor) where it is not possible to deliver teaching remotely.

Alert Level 3 – Updated Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations

We have updated our Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations based on public health advice in advance of the next COVID-19 Public Health Response health order. This is to give TEOs and students outside of Auckland and Northland as much clarity as possible as you prepare for a change to Alert Level 3.  Once the Alert Level 3 Public Health Response Order is gazetted tomorrow, we will do a final check to ensure all aspects of the order are reflected in our guidance. If there are further changes, we’ll notify you immediately.

As we noted in our bulletin last Friday, the Public Health team at the Ministry of Health has closely reviewed the current guidance for the tertiary education sector at Alert Level 3 and identified key areas where changes need to be made. These changes were: staff/student bubbles should be limited to 10 people or fewer (with onsite examinations only allowed for these groups), and at-risk staff should not be onsite unless fully vaccinated (see further below).

These new recommendations by Public Health further support a lowering of risk for staff, students and whānau.

In addition, we highlight the following key points in our updated guidance to help TEOs prepare for Alert Level 3:

  • Site access to prepare for re-opening (and to meet public health guidance) is allowed before Alert Level 3 comes into effect. We suggest TEOs and campus businesses provide staff with a letter they can take with them explaining why they are going to their place of work in Alert Level 4. As a reminder: where access to a tertiary site is permitted at Alert Level 4, a minimum number of staff should be onsite for a minimum amount of time, contact tracing systems and infection prevention measures must be in place, and physical distancing must be maintained at all times. If there is more than one staff member on site, staff must wear a face covering.
  • At Alert Level 3, staff and students should bring face coverings or masks with them when attending on-site activities. Face coverings should be worn at indoor facilities (e.g. libraries and student health services) where these are open. They are strongly recommended at all other times, particularly where physical distancing may be difficult.
  • At Alert Level 3, TEOs should have contact tracing systems in place for all staff and students onsite. TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances, and ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing. Contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met must also be collected.
  • Record-keeping requirements to support contact tracing is becoming mandatory for certain businesses that may operate on campus during Alert Level 3 – for example, food retail venues operating for delivery or contactless collection. This requirement comes into effect seven days from the change to Alert Level 3. The full list of places where record keeping is becoming mandatory is on the Covid-19.govt.nz website. Businesses can also check this page for further guidance to help them comply with the new requirements, which will be available soon.

Update to tertiary student accommodation and travel guidance

We have also updated our guidance on tertiary student accommodation, as we approach an Alert Level change.  There may be further details following publication of the Health Order, which we will provide guidance on in our next bulletin.

Students in an Alert Level 4 area

Students must continue to remain in their current accommodation.

There are very limited circumstances in which changing accommodation is allowed at Alert Level 4 – for example, needing to use an emergency home like a women’s refuge. Changing accommodation outside of these circumstances requires an exemption from the Director-General of Health. Exemptions are granted only in exceptional circumstances. For more information, see ‘Leaving or relocating home’ and ‘Individual exemptions’ at the Unite against COVID-19 website: Permitted movement at Alert Level 4 | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz).

Students in an Alert Level 3 area

The Ministry recommends all students in an Alert Level 3 area remain in their current accommodation.

However, students may move out of their accommodation in an Alert Level 3 area if relocating on a permanent or long-term basis to accommodation in an Alert Level 3 area, or returning to their primary home or place of residence in an Alert Level 4 area. Students must carry evidence of their purpose of travel and location if they are returning from an Alert Level 3 area to an Alert Level 4 area, e.g. proof of accommodation arrangements. For more information, see Personal travel over an Alert Level 4 and 3 boundary | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz).

Students are strongly discouraged from moving into or returning to student accommodation at Alert Level 3 if they have been offsite for Alert Level 4, unless it is an emergency. Students must not change their accommodation if they have been directed by a medical officer of health to isolate.

Higher-risk staff

Staff members who have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should be fully vaccinated before working on site. At Alert Level 3, all other staff members are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible, but are still able to work on site if they are not fully vaccinated.

Generally, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second of the two doses of the vaccine. However, staff should work with their GP or specialist if they need help understanding their own level of risk and how best to stay healthy. Further information is available from the Ministry of Health

Many people who are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will already be fully vaccinated. However, where a person cannot work on site because they are higher risk and not yet fully vaccinated, they should provide their employer with appropriate medical evidence to support this (such as a medical certificate obtained at the employer’s cost if required within the first three days after a request to return to work on site, and at the employee’s cost after that). Staff at high risk who are not fully vaccinated should work from home. If work is not available at home, they should be provided with discretionary paid leave.

Information for people considered at higher risk from the effects of COVID-19 can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

Disclosure of vaccination status

Ministry of Health advice is for everyone to get vaccinated, however you cannot make it a requirement for anyone get vaccinated. 

You can ask a staff member whether they have been vaccinated, but they do not have to disclose their vaccination status. If they choose not to disclose their vaccination status, you may assume that they are unvaccinated but should inform the staff member of this assumption.  

Personal information about vaccine status must be protected and cannot be shared without the staff member’s consent. 

Update: 3 September 2021: COVID-19 Update

Today’s bulletin focusses on queries we have received following our updated guidance. Please do continue to send your questions through.

COVID-19 Alert Level Changes

Auckland region remains in Alert Level 4 until at least Monday 13 September. The Northland region and all other regions south of the Auckland regional boundary are at Level 3 until at least Wednesday 8 September, with review on Monday 6 September.

Overarching Principles – Alert Level 3

The detailed tertiary guidelines have been developed in accordance with key overarching principles at each Alert Level. At Alert Level 3, all guidance needs to be read and actioned with the following key principles in mind: 

  • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely, wherever possible.
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g., for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Any class, workshop, etc. that cannot be delivered online and remains open must be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and must not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10. Contact tracing information that identifies which student/staff bubbles have met, and where and when they have met must be collected.
  • For any on-site activities, appropriate infection control measures, such as physical distancing and face coverings, along with Worksafe requirements must be met at all times.

Collecting staff vaccination information

We have had some follow-up queries about our guidance on what providers should consider in collecting staff vaccination information.

Our 29 August bulletin noted that Ministry of Health advice is for everyone to get vaccinated.  However, the current Health Orders do not provide a legal basis for TEOs to require staff members to be vaccinated.  

TEOs’ policies and practices for employees and other workers need to be consistent with employment agreements and employment law, the Health and Safety at Work Act, and the Privacy Act.  While government agencies can offer guidance, any employment situation must be assessed case by case. TEOs may need to seek their own legal advice in more complex cases.

MBIE has useful guidance for employees and workers on vaccines and the workplace

Worksafe has guidance on assessing if specific roles need to be done by vaccinated workers 

The Privacy Commissioner’s advice on the Privacy Act  

Personal information about vaccine status must be protected and cannot be shared without the staff member’s consent. Collecting, storing, and sharing information about people’s vaccination status must be done in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Requiring at-risk staff to come on site

At Alert Level 3, the detailed tertiary guidelines state that “at-risk and vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not be asked to carry out any on-site activities unless they are fully vaccinated.”

Tertiary providers should therefore allow unvaccinated, at-risk people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) to work remotely, as they have been during Alert Level 4. Providers should only require at-risk employees to work on site if that employee is fully vaccinated (two weeks following their second dose).

If unvaccinated at-risk employees wish to work on site, the Health Orders do not prohibit this. However, employers must assess whether this is consistent with their Health and Safety at Work Act obligations.

DHBs requiring students on practicum placement to be vaccinated (e.g., nursing, medicine, and pharmacy students)

Some providers and students have queried whether students on a practicum can be required by a placement provider to be vaccinated, e.g., can a DHB require nursing students on placement to be vaccinated?

The current Health Orders do not require vaccinations for most roles. Vaccination requirements in the Health Orders currently focus on border, port and MIQ workers. 

DHBs and other organisations hosting students for practicum placements or internships have responsibilities for these students under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. These overlap with the responsibilities that TEOs have for those students (both under that Act and the Code of Practice). 

Where parties have overlapping responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act, they are obliged to consult and cooperate with each other. We recommend that TEOs contact the relevant workplaces and professional bodies to determine a collective response. Appropriate responses will need to be worked out on a case-by-case basis.

MBIE has also provided guidance on this in their Vaccines and the workplace webpage. This also discusses how vaccination information should be collected and stored under the Privacy Act.

Removing the 2-hour time limit for classes/workshops at Alert Level 3

We have removed the 2-hour time limit for classes at Alert Level 3. This change makes the Alert Level 3 guidelines more consistent with the rules for schooling and other essential services that operate at Alert Level 3.

While the risk of transmission of COVID-19 increases with cumulative exposure time, Health advice is that the other public health mitigations in place are appropriate – including operating in a bubble of 10, ensuring physical distancing of 1m, contact tracing, classes taking place in a well-ventilated area, and shared equipment are sanitised between use. On this basis Health supports removing this time limit.

Clarifying when on-campus libraries and computer labs can open

We have received queries about what circumstances on-campus libraries and computer labs can open at Alert Level 3.

At Alert Level 3, the detailed tertiary guidelines only allow for libraries and computer labs to open where they are “essential to education delivery”. There is a high bar for an activity to be considered essential to education delivery.

Access to libraries or computer labs is only allowed when the delivery of education cannot occur remotely; for example, if a computer science lecturer can only undertake remote teaching from a computer lab with specialist devices.

Any on-site delivery at Alert Level 3 must also be limited to 10 people or less (including tutor).

The detailed tertiary guidelines have been updated to emphasise the limited scenarios in which libraries and computer labs should open at Alert Level 3.

Contact tracing systems at TEO facilities

TEOs should now have contact tracing systems in place for all staff and students onsite. TEOs should display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near main entrances. It is important to ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person entering the facility scans the QR code or provides details to enable contact tracing.

Reinstating Fees Free entitlement for learners affected by COVID-19

Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) should inform Fees Free eligible learners who used their entitlement for study or training in 2021 that there is a process to reinstate Fees Free entitlements in certain circumstances. Some or all of learners’ Fees Free entitlement may be reinstated if they are an eligible learner and:

  • they withdrew from study or training due to the impact of COVID-19 or
  • their study or training was adversely affected due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) will reinstate the entitlements of learners who withdrew between 17 August to 31 December 2021, without learners needing to appeal. Learners’ entitlements will be reinstated in the next few months.

For withdrawals outside this period, or where learners didn’t withdraw, but their studies were adversely affected, learners can appeal their entitlement use.

Learners can do so by entering their NSN on the Fees Free website homepage and completing the COVID -19 Entitlement Appeals form on the results page. For more details, visit the TEC website.

Archived bulletins (2020)