Coronavirus: What schools need to know


Alert Level 1

New Zealand is now at Alert Level 1. This is recognition of the efforts by all to keep each other safe.
While this is a very important milestone, the job is not done. We need to continue to be vigilant – wash and dry hands, and recall where we have been so that we can contact trace if required.


Read on for further regularly updated information around COVID-19 response:


Revised guidance on testing for COVID-19

At a time where there are increasing numbers of colds and other winter illnesses, the Ministry of Health has revised its guidance on who might need testing for COVID-19. It is important to note that there is currently no known community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand. The vast majority of adults, children and young people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not have COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include new onset or worsening of one or more of the following:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Temporary loss of smell

Health’s information on who should get tested notes that people with any of the COVID-19 symptoms who are close contacts of confirmed cases, have recently travelled overseas, or been in contact with recent travellers, should get assessed.
If anyone has symptoms but is unsure if they have been exposed to COVID-19, they should ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP for advice. Over winter there are many other viruses about that can cause people to feel unwell and have symptoms similar to those of COVID-19.
Some people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 may be tested as part of Health’s ongoing surveillance to ensure that there is no community transmission in New Zealand. If they are not close contacts of confirmed cases, have not recently travelled overseas, or have not been in contact with recent travellers, then there is no need for them to self-isolate while awaiting the test result, and they can return to school or early learning once they are feeling well or on the advice of their health practitioner.
If not recommended for testing, they will be able to return to school or their early learning service when they are feeling well and no longer displaying symptoms.
Further information about testing can be found on the Ministry of Health website.


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

As noted in Tuesday’s Bulletin, while unlikely at Alert Level 1, if there was a confirmed or probable case linked with your school or early learning service, you will be advised of that by the Medical Officer of Health or your local public health authority (or local Ministry of Education staff working in conjunction with local health authorities).
We have now added a number of scenarios to information we have previously provided to support your response to possible or confirmed/probable cases in your community – COVID-19 in your school or early learning service [MSWord].
If you are unsure of what actions you need to take if there is a case or possible case in your community, please refer to this guidance and also seek support from your regional Ministry contact.


Alert Level 1


We have developed health and safety guidance to support you at Alert Level 1 and have also developed specific guidance for hostels.
The key changes for schools at Alert Level 1 are (bold denotes a change from last week’s bulletin):

  • Physical distancing is not a requirement but where possible or practicable is encouraged when you are around people you don’t know.
  • There are no specific public health requirements.
  • There are no restrictions on personal movement so all students, children and staff continue to be safe to go to school / early learning, and all students must attend school.
  • You are no longer required to keep a contact tracing register but will continue with the usual practice of having a visitor and an attendance register (and will need to work with local health authorities to identify close contacts, should there be a case connected with the school).
  • There are no restrictions on numbers at gatherings or on physical activities including cultural and sporting activities, practices and events.

There are key public health measures - Golden Rules - for everyone in New Zealand to follow. For schools and early learning services this means:

  • If people are sick, they should stay home (phone Healthline or their GP and get tested if they have cold or flu symptoms).
  • Continue to regularly wash and dry hands, sneeze and cough into elbows.
  • Soap, water and the ability to dry hands should be provided in bathrooms.
  • Regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  • Support contact tracing efforts by displaying QR Code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App (see item below for more information).
  • Stringent self-isolation of those who display relevant symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19, have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, or have been overseas in the last 14 days – Ministry of Health information for self-isolation.

At all levels, upon advice from the local medical officer of health, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 must close on an individual or group basis for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.


Border exemption requests      

There are currently strict controls at the New Zealand border that restrict the entry of non-New Zealanders in order to protect against COVID-19. A process has been established to consider exemptions from the border restrictions. The current border exemption process for “other critical workers” (formerly essential workers) is now being managed jointly between Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The Ministry of Education is not a decision maker in this process, however will provide guidance on applications to Immigration NZ if they request it.
The Cabinet approved threshold for approval is very high. We are advised by Immigration NZ that holding an existing essential skills visa or being employed in a position that is on the skills shortage list is not sufficient to meet the ‘critical worker’ criteria for this process. 
If you have teaching staff that you have recruited or are recruiting from overseas, you should consider the latest guidance for these applications.
To apply, you, as the employer, will need to complete an application form [PDF]. All applications for “other critical workers” must be made directly to MBIE via


Weekly Attendance Data


The Ministry needs to continue with the weekly attendance data collection, due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19.
Please continue to send your weekly data this Friday, and again from the start of Term 3.
Term 1 and 2 attendance data collections will resume once Term 3 is underway.
While the weekly collection is similar to the termly collection, they serve different purposes:

  • The weekly collection provides timely information to Government for its COVID-19 response, and identifies schools that require additional support from the Ministry.
  • The termly collection is higher quality and enables continuation of the historical time series, used in the majority of research and analysis in Education. We are also able to provide customised attendance reports for participating schools for you to share with your boards, as well as regional and national trends.

Schedule for sending data:

Weekly data

Friday 3 July


Friday 10 July & 17 July

Weekly data

Friday 24 July and onwards

Termly data for Terms 1 and 2

From Term 3 / Monday 20 July



2020 school year reduced by four half days

The Minister has reduced the number of half days schools are required to be open by four. This is due to the COVID-19 response creating an additional teacher only day on Tuesday 28 April and moving the school holidays between Term 1 and Term 2.
There are no other changes to the 2020 term dates. You can find the 2020 term dates here.


Template letter for parents/caregivers for Alert Level 1

If you choose to use it, the MSWord template letter for parents/caregivers regarding Alert Level 1 is available here.


NZ COVID Tracer QR Code posters 

The ability to quickly trace close contacts of a confirmed case is a key defence against further transmission of COVID-19. All schools and early learning services are encouraged to display a QR code poster for the NZ COVID Tracer app at each of their premises to support contact tracing efforts. However, you are not required to maintain a contact tracing register at Alert Level 1.

The majority of schools and a large number of early learning service providers should have received an email from the Ministry of Health: The email included a download to your QR code poster.
For those of you with more than one site, or wanting more posters, please download and complete this Ministry of Health poster generating template, and send it back to
For those of you who have not received an email, it is likely because we cannot find an NZBN for you. You also can download and complete the Ministry of Health poster generating template and email it back to Health.
Once the health team receive your completed template, they will call you to run a quick verification check; then they can generate your poster and it will be emailed to you.
If you have any other general questions about the NZ COVID Tracer app, please email the Ministry of Health team.


School transport services under Alert Level 1

School transport services are now back to normal.
Good hygiene practices are still a priority. Vehicles will continue to be cleaned regularly in accordance with Ministry of Health guidance.
No physical distancing is required on Ministry, regional council or Auckland Transport school bus or public transport services. 
Accurate bus lists are still required. You should maintain up-to-date bus lists for Ministry contracted bus services to enable contact tracing to take place if required. Where a bus services more than one school, the ‘head school’ will hold the master list. Auckland Transport and regional councils will also be encouraging schools to maintain up-to-date passenger lists.
Fare collections may be reintroduced by councils and Auckland Transport, as confirmed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Families should refer to their regional council (or Auckland Transport) website for more information on the timing of this, if it has not already begun in your area.


Clarification of working from home allowances

A recent media article indicated that employees who had worked from home during COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3, would be entitled to a tax refund of up to $15 per week for their expenses, where an allowance was paid by their employer.
The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has since clarified that this is not correct and that the only change was that if an employer were to pay an additional allowance to an employee to cover the costs of working from home, that the additional allowance may be exempt from tax in certain circumstances.
As schools do not pay income tax, this tax exemption is not applicable to you. It may be timely to review your school’s reimbursement policy and ensure that staff delegated to approve such reimbursements are aware of the policy. If you do not have a reimbursement policy, you may want to consider the basis on which such decisions are made so they are consistently applied to all employees. 


New website Kia Kotahi mō te WHAIORANGA | Unite for the RECOVERY

A new COVID-19 government website Kia Kotahi mō te WHAIORANGA | Unite for the RECOVERY replaces the previous ‘Unite against COVID-19’ website. Its three key sections are:

  1. COVID-19 – Learn about the virus and what we all need to do.
  2. Wellbeing – You’re not alone. Find the support you need.
  3. Jobs and Training – Get careers, training and upskilling help.

ClassroomNZ2020 online courses

The Ministry has been working with regional offices towards making available ClassroomNZ2020, a new platform with a range of online courses, to support students until the end of February 2021.
These online courses were developed by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) and cover a wide range of NCEA subjects and levels aligned with the NZC.
Students may use the online resources to consolidate learning disrupted by COVID-19 and to review learning in preparation for both internal and external NCEA assessments aligned to the NZC.
Ākonga in wharekura may benefit from use of this platform to support their studies towards NCEA standards derived from the NZC.
Teachers may find these teaching and assessment resources useful for building their capability and confidence with blended and distance learning.
As you and your teachers plan for Term 3, you can begin to familiarise yourselves with the online resources and see what is available by browsing the support materials - including the Getting Started guide for teachers, videos and FAQs for school leaders, teachers and students on the NCEA.tki website.
The Ministry will provide another update in due course, including information on how to access this resource. If you’d like to register your interest in the meantime, please email:


COVID-19 Emergency payment scheme now closed  

The emergency payment scheme was established at the beginning of Alert Level 4 to support casual workers hired on an ‘as-needed’ basis who would be left with no or limited income during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
At Level 2, most workers could safely return to work however the scheme was extended by application only for casual employees unable to take up work due to COVID-19.
With the Government announcing that New Zealand is now in Alert Level 1 and people can return to work without any restrictions, the emergency payment scheme is now closed.

If it becomes necessary to provide support to casual employees who are effected by COVID-19 in the future such as a move back through the alert levels, we will work with you to ensure support is provided.
More information about staffing provisions is available on the Ministry website


School construction projects under Alert Level 1

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

Following the annual review of construction contracts for Ministry-led projects, we have updated the versions for school-led projects to ensure they are aligned with the Ministry’s.
This year’s review has addressed some of the key pain points we’ve heard from the construction industry including risk allocation, warranties and securities requirements.
The latest versions of these contracts should be used for all new construction engagements from 1 July 2020. The updated contracts do not impact on any existing contracts your school may have in place. We have advised project managers for school-led projects of the changes.
The updated contracts will be available on the Contracts for construction works and professional services webpage from 1 July 2020.


National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA)

Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, the NMSSA will not be conducting their usual field research with Year 4 and Year 8 students this year.
The team is working hard on other projects including the upcoming release of the English findings from last year, and look forward to getting back into schools next year.
Following a small field trial in March, the main study of the Progress in Reading Literacy Study is continuing with its planned schedule, and will be in schools with Year 5 students in Term 4 this year.


Support for schools with international students departing from either Auckland or Christchurch International Airports

Please make sure to check our guidance to help you manage the process for international students who want to depart New Zealand 

If you need some support for students to be met off domestic flights at Auckland or Christchurch International Airports, and/or support with accommodation, chaperoning, domestic to international transfers, then please contact:

Auckland: Debbie McGregor, email, Mobile: 027 415 0425
Christchurch: Tina Hartung, email, Mobile: 021 350 936
Please include the following information in your email:

  1. Student name:
  2. Student mobile number:
  3. School key contact name:
  4. School key contact mobile:
  5. Request for support (chaperoning/accommodation/transfers – please specify):


Export Education Levy (EEL)

We recognise the need to support the international education sector, while we look to reset and rebuild for the future.
We are now progressing legislative changes that would cancel the EEL payment obligations for enrolments in the 2020 and 2021 years. These changes would apply retrospectively, so that any levies paid in respect of enrolments after 1 January 2020 would be repaid to providers. You will be still be required to provide enrolment data, as it provides us with important information about the international education sector and will help us to better understand the full impact of Covid-19 on international students and schools.


ERO reviews under COVID-19

ERO will not be restarting individual school education reviews and reporting until later in the year. However, ERO does want to capture the learning and innovation that is happening in the sector at this time.
In the next few weeks, ERO will be contacting schools that are due to be reviewed to establish an approach that collects information for national and regional reporting about:

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

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

Annual Reporting and School Audit Process

We understand that the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students is your priority.
While many of you submitted your school’s annual financial statements to your auditors by 31 March 2020, others were not able to do so for a variety of reasons, including restricted access to your financial records during Alert Levels 3 and 4.
We understand some of you will therefore not be able to submit your school’s annual reports to us by 31 May and we want to assure you that you will not be penalised.
Disclosures of breaches of deadlines in school financial statements and references to missed deadlines in the OAG’s annual reporting on the results of school audits, will clearly explain where breaches are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our school finance advisors are available to support you with any queries you have regarding annual reporting.
Publishing your annual report and audited accounts
Once the audit of your financial statements is complete, you must make your annual report, including the audited financial statements, available on your school’s website. If you do not have a website, we can host your annual report on our Education Counts website. You can send your request for us to host your annual report to
Before making your annual report available, you should first ensure that that it does not contain any information that may breach an individual’s privacy, such as the names of students. It should also be noted that while the Statement of Responsibility document should be signed by school’s principal and board chair, the documents you then publish online do not need to contain these signatures; a typed name for each signature is sufficient. If you are scanning the document for publication, then it is also fine to redact or cover up the signatures.


Guidance for School Assessment


To support students, further changes to NCEA and University Entrance requirements will be made for this school year.
The following changes were agreed by the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to help ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the disruption of COVID-19, whilst maintaining the integrity and credibility of NCEA:

  • Students working towards an NCEA can gain additional credits, based on the number of credits they achieve during the 2020 school year. For every 5 credits a student attains towards their NCEA, either through internal or external assessment, they can be awarded 1 additional credit. Students at NCEA Level 1 are eligible for up to a maximum of 10 additional credits, while those at Levels 2 and 3 are eligible for up to a maximum of 8 additional credits.
  • Students will be awarded a certificate endorsement if they achieve 46 credits at Merit or Excellence level, rather than the usual 50. Students achieving 12 credits at Merit or Excellence level in a course – rather than 14 – will be awarded a course endorsement.
  • Current UE requirements have been reduced from 14 credits to 12 credits in three UE-approved subjects. Students still need to attain NCEA Level 3 and meet literacy and numeracy requirements to be awarded University Entrance.

These changes are in addition to the first tranche of changes announced on 13 May 2020. Read more about the changes here

International Baccalaureate

The May 2020 examinations were cancelled. Our students, their well-being and their progression in future stages of life have been at the forefront of our thinking as we respond to this extraordinary pandemic.

See full details here 

Cambridge Assessment International Education

Cambridge has taken the difficult decision not to run its international examinations in the May/June 2020 series in any country. This includes Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge AICE Diploma and Cambridge Pre-U.

Read more


Privacy issues

Contact tracing

The privacy consultancy, Simply Privacy, has created some free guidelines to help organisations ‘do privacy right’ when putting in place their contact tracing requirements.

You can find the guidance here.


When can you disclose information about someone who may be infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19)?

The Privacy Commission has released guidelines on disclosing information in relation to containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. For full information please refer to:




Additional technology support for schools establishing distant learning

Apple Training for Remote Learning
Virtual one-on-one 30 min coaching sessions with Apple Professional Learning Specialists are available for free to help educators plan, create and deploy new Remote Learning teaching strategies. Schedule your session today at, Mon-Fri 11am-8pm NZ time, (note times advertised are in AEST.)

Apple remote learning information



Key contacts


Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health are the lead Government agency providing health advice in New Zealand in response to COVID-19:

COVID-19 – Ministry of Health


Public health units/district health boards

If you need to contact your public health officer: 

Public Health Unit Contacts – Ministry of Health


Immigration New Zealand

Keep updated on travel restrictions through the New Zealand Immigration website:

COVID-19 response – Immigration New Zealand



Advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas:

Travel advice – SafeTravel


New Zealand Human Rights Commission

If you know someone who has experienced racial discrimination related to COVID-19, the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquires and complaints service:


Pastoral care for students

If you have specific questions about pastoral care for domestic or international students, contact the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) Code team:


This information has been collated from different sources as a guideline only - ISNZ is not a regulatory body. However, we hope this summary may offer some assistance. 


Where to go for more information?

From the Ministry of Education

Visit this page for the latest information on COVID-19 for the education sector from the Ministry of Education.

If you would like to review your pandemic plan, the Ministry of Education guidance will assist you through that process.

The Emergency Management Plan template also includes provision for pandemics. 


From the Ministry of Health

See the latest COVID-19 update from the Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health also has useful guidance on helping children who are experiencing stress.


From Immigration New Zealand

See the latest news on COVID-19 from Immigration New Zealand.



Please see MFAT's Safe Travel Advisory.


From the World Health Organisation

WHO Advice for the public on COVID-19