COVID-19 TEC Updates

COVID-19 TEC Updates

Last updated 8 September 2021
Last updated 8 September 2021

COVID-19 TEC Updates - FAQs

We know the sector is working hard to provide the best for learners in response to COVID-19 restrictions and we are here to support you during this time.

If you have any questions or concerns we encourage you to contact our Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or customerservice@tec.govt.nz

Do you have guidance on TEO operations under Alert Level 2?

Given the risk associated with the Delta variant of COVID 19, there are some differences in TEO operations at Alert Level 2.  MoE have updated the Alert Level 2 guidance in their Guidelines for Tertiary Education Organisations to align with Cabinet’s decisions and the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order.

In general, 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.
  • 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.

Can we deliver SAC, YG, ACE and our literacy funds extramurally during COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4?

  • Yes. TEC has allowed providers to deliver education and training online in response to COVID-19 restrictions on face-to-face teaching. Read our full advice
  • Our approval is given, and any amendments to funding conditions are made, in response to COVID-19 restrictions and will stay in effect until further notice.

Can our staff go into our facilities to collect items they need in order to continue working and teaching?

  • Tertiary staff can 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.
    • 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 tertiary staff undertaking deliveries will be required wear a face covering and keep physically distanced from others (two meters).
    • 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.
    • See the Tertiary Provider and International Bulletin

Are PTEs able to get an extension to the due date for the statutory documents they are required to submit for the financial viability assessment?

  • We recognise that it is difficult for TEOs to get statutory documents witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • If you are required to complete a financial viability assessment in 2021 and cannot get financial statements witnessed in time, please contact our Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or 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.
  • We are happy to also accept documents signed electronically, for example via Docusign.

Last year TEC provided us with an exemption in relation to verifying learner identity in person, does this apply during the 2021 lockdown?

  • TEOs receiving on-Plan funding from us 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. We have therefore authorised TEOs 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]

Can we apply for the Hardship Fund for Learners?

  • The Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) 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. 
  • You can find further information on the HAFL webpage.

I am a Transitional Industry Training Organisation, and received the exemptions to the offsets in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Will the same apply in 2021?

  • We are aware that an extended period at COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4, is likely to have implications on delivery of Industry Training.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you if we develop any further guidance regarding this issue.

Will 2022 Investment Round timelines and requirements change as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown?

  • We are focused on maintaining business as usual at this time, and will update you if there are any changes to the timelines and requirements for the 2022 Investment Round.

Will you consider how the COVID-19 lockdown impacts on our delivery and performance?

  • We are aware that an extended period at COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 is likely to have implications for TEO delivery and performance in 2021, but that this lockdown has occurred at a point in the academic year when many TEOs are already funded for learners. We will take these circumstances into consideration when making future funding decisions.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you if we develop any further guidance regarding this issue.
  • In the meantime, the number one priority continues to be the welfare of learners and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time.

We deliver Intensive Literacy and Numeracy (ILN) education. Does the condition of intensity of hours per week still apply during the COVID-19 lockdown?

  • We know the sector is working hard to provide the best for learners in response to COVID-19 restrictions on face-to-face engagement.
  • Last week we provided a letter clarifying extramural delivery during the 2021 COVID-19 lockdown.
  • We appreciate the challenges involved in delivering literacy and numeracy education extramurally however, the condition regarding intensity of hours per week for your ILN provision still applies. We support providers taking a flexible approach to meet this, such as delivering smaller blocks of learning.
  • We are here to support you during this time. If you have any questions please contact our Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or customerservice@tec.govt.nz

Do I need to continue to use the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT) to carry out learner needs analysis during the COVID-19 lockdown?

  • We appreciate the challenges of using the LNAAT while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
  • Despite this, we ask that assessments continue as part of each learner’s needs analysis. This is a funding condition for ILN, ILN ESOL, Employer-led WLN, TEO-led WLN, YG and SAC 1&2 funds.
  • This link provides further guidelines for using the LNAAT. Paper-based (non-adaptive) assessments are appropriate when access to the online assessment tool is limited or highly impractical. If you need to organise paper based assessments while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, please refer to the Tertiary Provider and International Bulletin for guidelines on how to access paper based resources, and deliver these to learners.
  • We are here to support you during this time. If you have any questions please contact our Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or customerservice@tec.govt.nz

Is the process different during the COVID-19 lockdown if a student wants to enrol in a course, and/or apply for a scholarship with a University or at Te Pūkenga?

  • Yes, Universities and Te Pūkenga have adapted their application processes in light of the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, students were required to provide certified copies of their results (for example, signed by their Principal).
  • As an interim process, neither Te Pūkenga nor the Universities will require certified copies of results documents, and will obtain confirmation of students’ results from NZQA.

What do students need to do?

  • Students should, where possible, provide a copy of their results documentation, but this does not need to be certified.
  • Students who are unable to provide certified copies of identity documents can enrol with uncertified documents until further notice. Students must be prepared to provide certified documents, if required once lockdown is lifted.
  • Students are required to make a declaration in the form set out below if they have not been able to obtain independent verification by an authorised person of their identity documentation. Students should include their declaration at the same time as their accompanying enrolment documents.
  • This can be in the form of a handwritten sheet, or a printout with their signature.
  • Where students are providing photographs or scans of documents they must ensure that the information on the document, and the accompanying declaration is legible.

Declaration for students applying to Te Pūkenga

  • New enrolling students who have not yet started their study with Te Pūkenga must provide a self-declaration in the following form:

In support of my application to enrol at [subsidiary name], I certify that every document I provide (or have provided) to [subsidiary name] as part of the admission process is a true copy of the original document.  I will produce the original if requested by [subsidiary name] at a future date. 

Signed:  [Print full-name and signature]
Date:     [insert]

  • Where students are enrolling in programs, but already attend Te Pūkenga, the declaration will not be required, but they will be required to verify their ID once they are back on-site.

Declaration for students applying to a University

  • All enrolling students must provide a self-declaration in the following form:

I certify that every document I have attached is a true copy of the original document.

Full name: [full name as per identification document]
Signature: [pen or electronic signature]
Date: [insert]

Can TEOs continue to enrol or re-enrol international PhD students who are currently offshore and are unable to return to New Zealand to study?

  • In light of the ongoing border restrictions, you can continue to enrol or re-enrol international PhD students who are unable to return to New Zealand for their study. However, we require each TEO to:
    • Clearly communicate with all enrolled and prospective International PhD students that they cannot currently enter New Zealand. Only those students who have been granted border exemptions by Immigration New Zealand may enter New Zealand.
    • Only enrol students in PhD programmes where it is possible for the student to progress their study offshore and make reasonable progress toward their qualification.
    • Clarify for each enrolled student how they can progress their PhD research offshore.
    • Only enrol students offshore who are financially able and willing to come to New Zealand for their study as soon as border entry conditions make this possible (they must not enrol students wishing to do a full PhD programme offshore).

Will my Youth Guarantee (YG) Premium allocation be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown?

  • YG Premium payments are paid out as part of your allocation during the year. This allocation is based on funding for Qualifications at level 1-2 in your YG Mix of Provision.
  • Your final delivery will be determined based on your December SDR. Any under or over delivery will be addressed through the wash-up process.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you if we develop any further guidance.

I am an employer providing workplace literacy and numeracy (EWLN) education, but I can’t do this during the COVID-19 lockdown. What options are available to me?

  • We understand that employers receiving off-plan funding through the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy fund may face challenges in meeting the agreed milestones while Alert Levels 3 and 4 are in place.
  • Ideally, training should continue where possible, so that learners can remain engaged and working towards their literacy and numeracy goals. However, when that is not feasible, we encourage employers to contact us to revise their milestones and discuss the options available to them.
  • If you have any questions, or wish to discuss milestone adjustments, please contact our Customer Contact Group by email on customerservice@tec.govt.nz or phone 0800 601 301.

My school delivers a Gateway programme, will you consider how the COVID-19 lockdown impacts on our delivery and performance?

  • We are aware that an extended period at COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 is likely to have implications for Gateway delivery and performance in 2021, and that this lockdown has occurred at a point in the academic year when many learners have started placements. We will take these circumstances into consideration when making future funding decisions.
  • We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you if we develop any further guidance regarding this issue.
  • In the meantime, the number one priority continues to be the welfare of learners and staff and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time.

How does the recent COVID-19 lockdown impact on Fees Free?

  • We have updated the process to reinstate entitlements for learners who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.
  • For more information visit the Fees Free fund finder page.

Do you have guidance on TEO operations under Alert Level 3?

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

The updated Guidelines are consistent with the Public Health Response Order

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 previous tertiary bulletins

In addition, 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.

Our detailed guidance on the requirements for on-site tertiary exams at Alert Level 3 has now been updated and can be found here. This includes guidance on face coverings, and the rules for on-site examinations at Alert Level 3.

What support is available for TEOs delivering Workplace Literacy and Numeracy that is being impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown?

We are aware that an extended period at COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4 is likely to have implications for TEO delivery and performance in 2021, but that this lockdown has occurred at a point in the academic year when many TEOs are already funded for learners. We will take these circumstances into consideration when making future funding decisions.

Once we have a clear understanding of the impact on 2021 delivery we will consider additional funding requests in the first quarter of 2022, to help support any flow-over teaching required to enable learners to complete WLN training interrupted by the August 2021 COVID-19 lockdown.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise TEOs if we develop any further guidance regarding this issue.

Are TITOs required to gain a signature on Training Agreements during COVID lockdown(s)?

Where possible, signatures should still be obtained and this can be completed in several digital ways, such as:

  • Making agreements writable PDFs so digital signatures/learner names can be entered (this may require insertion of a clause stating that by typing a name into a text box it constitutes a legal signature);
  • Learners printing agreements, signing them, then emailing a scanned or photographed signed document to the TEO (many learners may not have access to printers and scanners);
  • Learners emailing their consent to agreements to the TEO; and
  • Learners digitally accepting online declarations, where available.

Does TEC offer support for Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) costs for TEOs running study related trips?

  • There is no public funding available to cover the costs of MIQ costs for study related trips.
  • If there is a cost that arises as part of the study requirements (i.e. the trip was a compulsory part of the course), that cost would have to be met between the TEO and the student.
  • TEOs either need to factor this risk into their business planning or would need to curtail overseas study trips (until border restrictions are lifted).
  • It is important TEOs ensure this is detailed in the enrolment contract with the students. If students are expected to pay for MIQ costs, should the need arise, they need to have been given full information on that prior to enrolment so they can make an informed choice. The information should also be included in the enrolment contract students sign so that it’s clear they have accepted the terms.

Are we able to shift provision between regions and provision type if we are unable to deliver courses because of COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and 4 restrictions?

Yes, a TEO that cannot deliver provision because of Alert Level 3 and 4 restrictions, can adjust their Mix of Provision (MoP)to move provision between regions and provision type, if:

  • they are shifting delivery from one type of priority provision to another type of priority provision, or from non-priority provision to priority provision; or
  • they are shifting delivery from a priority to a non-priority area of provision, where there is demand and there is still a need for that particular provision e.g. demand from potential employers

For a summary of our priorities, you can refer to our Plan Guidance for investment from 2022.

If you wish to adjust your MoP due to COVID-19 restrictions affecting delivery, please contact our Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or customerservice@tec.govt.nz