Advice for students, parents and whānau

Information for students (including international students), parents and whānau about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

This section was updated on Friday 22 May at 12:40 pm.

Alert Level 2

On Monday 18 May, all schools and early learning services can open onsite under Alert Level 2. Tertiary Education Organisations can move to Level 2 from Thursday 14 May.

All education institutions are safe to attend and additional public health measures are in place. It is important that all children can come to school.

Parents and school students should check opening details with their school or service as some may transition their students’ return over 2 days after May 18, or even slightly before, if they are ready.

Tertiary students should check their organisations’ onsite opening plans. Most are organising a phased return to onsite learning, while maintaining distance learning options.

Public health advice is that schools, early learning services and tertiary institutions are safe to open onsite at Alert Level 2 to all learners. People no longer need to stick to their bubbles at Alert Level 2 and can meet with friends and family. But we all need to play it safe and continue to take sensible health and safety precautions.

At Level 2, almost all children and young people will be able to attend early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary institutions onsite, including students in years 11 to 13. The only exceptions are those who are sick, have any COVID-19 symptoms, are in isolation, or are awaiting the result of a test. Distance learning will be available for learners needing to remain at home. Ministry staff will continue to support children with learning support needs where they are required to remain at home.

Public health advice, based on experience in New Zealand and overseas with COVID-19, shows that it does not infect or affect children and teens in the same way it does adults. Children and teens have low infection rates, they don't become that unwell if they do get infected, and they don't tend to pass the virus on to adults.

Schools and early learning services are committed to doing everything they can to keep children and young people healthy and safe during Alert Level 2 and the Ministry will be supporting them to do this.

Parents, caregivers and whanau can be assured that strong public health control measures will be in place in all education institutions. These include learners and staff staying home if they are sick, contact tracing, and safe hygiene requirements. If a school or early learning service has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, they must close for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.

Parents can help their children and their service or school at this time by keeping children home if are unwell; seeking medical advice about whether a child may need to be tested and ensuring safe hygiene practice at all times.

Physical distancing will remain important in schools where possible. But, at Level 2, playground, sports equipment use and all sports, including contact sports, can resume under certain conditions. School transport services will also return to normal schedules. The ongoing safety of drivers and students and the ability to contact trace will be a priority.

Residential Special Schools, Day Special Schools and satellite units will all reopen at Alert Level 2. Playcentres and playgroups can also meet, provided the public health measures for early learning services are in place. Your child can return to their school hostel. OSCAR, along with other before and after school programmes, will also resume. The Food in Schools programme will also be fully operational again (with extra health provisions).

 Schools and early learning services will keep contact with parents as they work to reopen to all learners at Alert Level 2. Schools won’t move to Alert Level 2 midweek. When a decision is made, they will open at the beginning of the following week. Tertiary students should check their institutions onsite opening plans with their providers.  

Alert Level 2 is all about being safe and sensible and this is the approach will operate in all our schools and services and in out guidance and advice to them.

More information 

Preparing to move to level 2 – checklist for parents (external link)

FAQs - What will Alert Level 2 look like for education services?

Early learning bulletin: Special Edition 21 May 2020 (external link)

School bulletin: Special Edition 21 May 2020 (external link)  

Tertiary students bulletin - 14 May 2020 [PDF, 684 KB]

Changes to NCEA

Changes to NCEA for 2020 are to help ensure that all students have a fair opportunity to achieve NCEA as a result of COVID-19.

The changes, effective immediately, are to:

  • delay external NCEA examinations and New Zealand Scholarship examinations so they start on 16 November instead of 6 November, allowing another week for teaching, learning and internal assessment in Term Four,
  • extend the submission date for subjects which require students to submit a portfolio, such as Design and Visual Communication, from 28 October to 12 November 2020, giving students more time to prepare, and
  • waive the requirement for NZQA verification of Level 1 and 2 Visual Arts portfolios, meaning students will have more time to complete their portfolios and teachers will have more time for marking.

The Ministry of Education and NZQA will also work with the NCEA Professional Advisory Group to consider how to address equity issues arising from the disruption. NZQA is consulting with Universities New Zealand on whether there should be changes to the requirements for University Entrance this year, in light of COVID-19.

Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3 learners who can stay at home should learn from home. At-risk students should stay away from school.

Household bubbles can be expanded a small amount, under Level 3, to include close family, isolated people or caregivers.

Schools will be open for students up to Year 10 only, on or around 29 April. But only for students who need to attend. Parents needing to send their children to school should check the opening date with their school.

Schools and centres are planning for everybody’s health and safety by having ‘school bubbles’. Expect school to be different.

Your child may not be in the same classroom or have the same teacher, and start and finish times may change. Some activities may not be offered such as sports or technology. Food services may not be available.

Helping you with Alert Level 3: More information for parents and whānau (external link)

Managing health and safety in schools during Alert Level 3

Read the Ministry’s comprehensive guide to managing the wellbeing of learners, staff, parents and whānau at school during Level 3.

Managing health and safety at Alert level 3  [DOCX, 680 KB]

Supporting students’ learning at home 

We have developed a package of options to support students learning at home when Term 2 begins on April 15.

This involves us working closely with schools. In the first instance you should contact your school if you have any issues or are concerned about your child’s learning at home. If you have difficulty contacting your child’s school and the teacher doesn’t contact you, please get in touch with your nearest office of the Ministry of Education.

Online resources

We are enhancing the resources available in two relatively new online spaces: Learning from home (external link)  and Ki te Ao Mārama (external link) .
(external link)

They include a range of resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders, for early learning through to senior secondary. Talk to your teacher about what resources are right for your child.

Access to devices and the internet

We have worked with principals to identify students who are likely to need additional resources, devices, internet connectivity or hard copy learning materials, to continue their learning from home when the school terms resumes on April 15.

We won’t be able to meet everyone’s needs all at once but we will provide as much as we can, as soon as it is available. We will be targeting the greatest need first. We will focus on connecting students in senior secondary school working towards NCEA – to minimise disruption for those working towards a qualification – and on those with greatest need due to disadvantage. We will then move down the year levels from years 10 to 1.

Hard copy packs

We know many of you have already received material from your school for learning at home. We are also providing hard packs to support students who don’t have technology at home.

Television channels

Two television channels are due to start from April 15. They will broadcast education-related content – one for English medium and one for Māori medium, including content targeted for Pacific and other communities.

The broadcasts will run over six and a half hours during the day, and include specialised content to support your learning.


Technology is great whether it’s for information, learning, keeping connected or for games, music and videos. Here's a reminder about how to keep young people safe in an online world where, unfortunately, there are some predators. 

Keeping safe online

Recommencing school transport services under Alert Level 2

Unlike public spaces, our school buses, like school classrooms, are controlled environments. Ministry of Health guidelines make it clear that in some environments like school classrooms or early learning Centres it’s not always practical to have physical distance restrictions in place, so observing all the necessary hygiene requirements is the key priority. Schools also know which of their students are in the classroom and travelling on the school bus, so contact tracing can take place if required.

We are satisfied that by prioritising and maintaining good hygiene practices in line with Ministry of Health advice and making sure that every bus is cleaned in accordance with Ministry of Transport guidelines (external link) , with all touch points cleaned after each journey (twice daily), our school transport services will be managed safely.

We cannot predict how many students will be accessing school bus transport from Monday when schools welcome them back. We understand some families may be anxious about their children using school transport for the first time in a while and may prefer to make other arrangements, and we respect that choice.

In the meantime, we will be working with our school transport services to make sure the necessary hygiene requirements are being met. Just as schools will be provided with hand sanitiser for the classroom, hand sanitisers will also be available on every vehicle for the students to use when getting on and off.

Schools will continue to make sure they are observing all the necessary hygiene requirements once students arrive onsite and have plenty of information for young people and parents around good health and hygiene.

Special school transport assistance

SESTA (special school transport assistance) services will run to normal timetables. Transport operators will liaise with families about their transport needs.

Driver safety

Drivers’ employers will be taking extra measures to make them feel safe in their workplace, such as leaving seats in close proximity to the driver free. Physical distancing isn’t practicable on school buses, however, it’s a controlled environment where contact tracing can take place if required.

Advice for parents who are essential workers

Where possible, essential workers need to make their own arrangements for childcare from Thursday 26 March until the end of the lockdown, due to limited capacity.
Where this is not possible alternative arrangements have been made so essential workers can continue to work.

Essential businesses - (external link)

What essential workers need to know when making their own arrangements?

Essential workers will need to use their existing networks for in-home care, for example a neighbour, relative, friend or current carer/nanny who can come to their house, or provide childcare in their own home. There are Public Health rules that must be observed:

  • The person caring for your child becomes part of your self-isolating group.
  • This group must remain the same for the whole period.
  • The carer must not care for children from other households (other than their own) over the same period.
  • If a child or carer becomes unwell, they must stay at home. 

If essential workers do not have access to childcare through their own networks:

If essential workers are unable to access childcare, the government will fund other licensed childcare providers (for example through PORSE, Barnados and Edubase / Home Grown Kids) to provide in home care to the children aged 0-14 of essential workers. All providers will provide care for ages 0-14. The carer would be subject to the same Public Health rules as set out above.
For the purposes of providing care to children of essential workers, the in home carer will be classified as an essential worker in both cases.

Initial list of contact details for providers

Check the full list on the Work and Income website:

COVID-19: In-home childcare for essential workers - Work and Income website (external link)

Parent fees while ECE services are closed

As early learning services are closed, we are encouraging them to be flexible and reasonable about parent fees during this period.

The Government is continuing to support early learning services through the ECE subsidy funding with no claw backs during the lockdown period, and services can also apply for the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy.

Advice for unwell students

If you have a particular concern about your child or yourself, Healthline has a dedicated line for COVID-19 enquiries with translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages:

If you intend to visit your GP or after-hours medical centre, phone ahead first to let them know.

COVID-19 is now a notifiable infectious disease and treatment for people who have, or who are suspected of having. COVID-19 is publicly funded under the infectious disease exception, to the extent appropriate in the circumstances to manage risks to other persons. This covers anyone in New Zealand, regardless of visa/citizenship status or length of time in the country.

Please note that the services are limited to:

  • Diagnosis.
  • Treatment of the person’s infectious or quarantinable disease.
  • Follow-up services.
  • Contact tracing services.
  • Surveillance of persons who are liable to quarantine under the Health Act 1956.

More information is available on the Ministry of Health's website:

People receiving treatment for infectious diseases - Ministry of Health (external link)

COVID-19 health advice for the public – Ministry of Health (external link)

Talking to children about COVID-19 

Children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events such as COVID-19. Parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers will have a particularly important part to play in reassuring children at this time. 

Talking to children about COVID-19

Tips for parents supporting toddlers during COVID-19 [PDF, 678 KB]

What are my options for accommodation when self-isolating?

Self-isolation requires that you have accommodation that is stable and that you limit your contact with any other people living in the same dwelling; e.g. a separate room and, if possible, separate bathroom.

A private home/flat is preferred over shared living arrangements such as hostels, boarding houses, residential halls, or even hotels. Please contact your education provider for appropriate accommodation support.

What if I am in shared accommodation?

You can still share accommodation while self-isolating, so long as you follow the appropriate self-isolation procedures and stay within your bubble.

Advice for homestay host families

The health of students and homestay families is a priority.

If you have concerns about hosting students who are returning from overseas, or may have been exposed to the coronavirus, you should contact the student’s school.

Supporting students’ learning at home

To support distance learning, we have two new online spaces available: Learning from home (external link)  and Ki te Ao Mārama (external link) .
(external link)

They include a range of resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders, for early learning through to senior secondary. Talk to your teacher about what resources are right for your child.

Access to devices and the internet

We are in the process of identifying students who are likely to need additional resources, devices, internet connectivity or hard copy learning materials, to continue their learning from home when the school terms resumes on April 15.

We won’t be able to meet everyone’s needs all at once but we will continue to work with you to provide as much as we can, as it is available. We will be targeting the greatest need first.

Hard copy packs

We know many of you have already provided students with material for home. We are working to provide hard packs for children who don’t have technology at home and we will work with you on the best approach to getting this to those children. Our aim is to provide a supply of these by 15 April, if printing and distribution times make this possible.


Technology is great whether it’s for information, learning, keeping connected or for games, music and videos. Here's a reminder about how to keep young people safe in an online world where, unfortunately, there are some predators. 

Keeping safe online

International students having accommodation issues

If you are having accommodation issues, please call your education provider first. They are there to help you.

If you are unable to reach them, call Tertiary Education Commission on 0800 123 797 Monday to Friday.

You can also contact a Ministry of Education office near you Monday to Friday:

Ministry of Education regional office contacts (external link)

Or you can call NZQA on 0800 697 296 Monday to Friday.


如果您无法联系到他们,请在周一至周五致电高等教育委员会(Tertiary Education Commission):0800 123 797。
您也可以在周一至周五联系您附近的教育部办公室 Ministry of Education regional office contacts (external link)  (教育部区域办公室联系方式)
或者可以在周一至周五致电新西兰学历认证局(NZQA),电话:0800 697 296。




如果您無法聯繫到他們,請在周一至週五致電高等教育委員會(Tertiary Education Commission:0800 123 797。

您也可以在周一至週五聯繫您附近的教育部辦公室 Ministry of Education regional office contacts (external link) (教育部區域辦公室聯繫方式)

或者您可以在周一至週五致電紐西蘭資格認證局(NZQA), 電話:0800 697 296。

If I can't start my courses on time, how will I continue my study?

In the first instance, you should contact your education provider. Education providers are being encouraged to consider flexible learning arrangements such as online learning/blended delivery, offering extra semesters, or changing the timetables for programmes to support students when they do arrive in New Zealand.

If you are unable to enter New Zealand and this impacts your ability to participate in regularly scheduled course programmes, you should contact your education provider to discuss distance learning options, or provision of refunds for fees and/or hostel deposits if enrolments are deferred.

If you are concerned about how changes may affect your student visa, contact Immigration New Zealand or check their website for general information about student visas relating to COVID-19:

Visa information – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

I would like to defer my study, what are my options?

Providers should advise affected students about arrangements to protect their fees if they decide to defer their studies. In the event a student decides to withdraw from their programme of study, providers should ensure students are made aware of any potential refunds or deferral of course fees.

Will my insurance cover me for extra costs related to COVID-19?

As the novel coronavirus is now considered a “known event” by many international student insurance providers, your insurance may not cover you if you have had to change or cancel travel or accommodation bookings. However, each insurance provider has different coverage, and you should contact your insurance provider to discuss your situation.

Is there any assistance to help cover the costs of these changes to travel, fees, and accommodation?

You should contact your education provider and/or insurance provider for up-to-date advice on any possible claims as a result of COVID-19.

Your education provider may have financial aid available to its students, and/or additional provision for students affected by COVID-19 and the related travel restrictions and self-isolation. Contact your education provider to discuss your options.

If I can’t attend classes as I am self-isolating, what happens to my attendance records?

Immigration instructions require that international students attend their programme of study at all times, unless there are genuine reasons for absence. If you are following New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines for self-isolation and cannot attend classes, attendance records should note that the absence is due to genuine circumstances.

If providers have concerns about how changes may affect a student’s visa, contact Immigration New Zealand or check their website for general information about student visas relating to COVID-19: (external link)

Students/families experiencing discrimination

If you or someone you know is experiencing racial discrimination related to COVID-19, the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquiries and complaints service which you can use.

This kind of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable, and we encourage you to make a complaint:

NetSafe also offer advice for those experiencing online race-based abuse:

Race-based online abuse – NetSafe (external link)

Ministry of Health Melon app

The Ministry of Health has a variety of support, tools and resources to help young people manage anxiety due to the uncertainty and change caused by COVID-19.

The Melon app is an example of an online tool that offers help as part of the COVID-19 response.  Melon has been ramping up content specific to young people which can be found at (external link)

The Ministry of Health will soon be adding new resources including videos and an Anxiety Toolkit course. This five-session course is aimed at the 13+ age group and focuses on learning how to accept yourself, build confidence and manage emotions to help get through tough times.

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