Guidance for schools for Alert Levels 1–4

This page summarises the public health measures and recommendations to support health and safety at COVID-19 Alert Levels 1–4.

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Additional public health measures help to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.

Schools as a PCBU have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure the health and safety of its staff, children and the public.  See our health and safety guidance for boards of trustees and school leaders(external link) for further information.

You will already have a plan for managing health and safety; this guidance will assist you to review and update that plan to reflect the public health measures at each alert level. Work with your staff to do this, including your elected health and safety representatives.

10 things you need to know about Alert Level 1

1. Schools are open and must operate safely.

At Alert Level 1 the virus is contained in New Zealand but not overseas. We need to have systems and practices in place in case COVID-19 reappears in our community.

2. There are no restrictions on personal movement at Alert Level 1 – all children and staff should be at school.

The only people who will need to stay away are:

  • those required to self-isolate
  • individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result (most people will be able to go back to school/work while waiting for a result)
  • children, students and staff who are unwell.

3. Testing remains a crucial component in preventing an outbreak.

If a child or staff member is sick, they should stay home. If they have cold or flu symptoms they should call their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested. If recommended to get tested, they should do so.

4. Schools will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at school.

Your Director of Education will work closely with you and health authorities should this occur. Please contact your Ministry regional office if you hear of a confirmed case in your school community but haven’t been advised about it by health officials.

5. You must continue to support contact tracing through the display of QR Code posters and your visitor register, attendance register and timetable.

If a new case does appear in your community, your contact tracing processes will support the speedy identification of close contacts of the confirmed case. Please encourage your community to check-in using the NZ COVID Tracer app including when they are doing pick-ups and drop-offs.

6. There are no restrictions on numbers at gatherings.

Schools, like workplaces are not considered to be gatherings. Physical activities including cultural and sporting activities, practices and events can go ahead.

7. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply:

  • Physical distancing – keep a safe distance from people you don’t know while out and about
  • Hand hygiene
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces.

8. There are no restrictions on domestic travel.

People should avoid using mass transport if sick, awaiting a result from a COVID-19 test or required/recommended to self-isolate.

9. Face coverings continue not to be required when in school.

This includes school transport and charter buses hired by the school to transport students and staff to and from school. Anyone who chooses to wear a face-covering in any setting should be supported to do so.

10. Your Ministry regional office team is available to provide support.

Regional office contact details

For more detailed information for Alert Level 1, please refer to our health and safety guidance.

10 things you need to know about Alert Level 2

1. Schools are open to everyone, and all children must attend.

At Alert Level 2 the disease is contained but there is still risk of community transmission. It is safe for children and staff to attend school and for school hostels to be operating as there will be appropriate measures in place, including for children and staff vulnerable to severe illness.

2. Learning will be onsite with distance learning offered in some circumstances.

Distance learning should be provided for those required to self-isolate, those individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result, or those choosing to remain at home because they are vulnerable to illness.

3. Schools are not classified as gatherings and a range of events and activities can go ahead.

For most day to day activities at schools, the rules for gatherings do not apply. Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order, schools are exempted from physical distancing requirements when people are there to receive, provide, or support education services.

However as soon as your event or activity brings people onsite who are not there for education purposes, including students, parents and caregivers, then the rules for gatherings do apply. This would include performances such as school plays, cultural events and sporting activities.

4. Schools will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at school.

Your Director of Education will work closely with you and health authorities should this occur. Please contact your Ministry regional office if you hear of a confirmed case in your school community but haven’t been advised about it by health officials.

5. Face coverings are not required at school or on any school transport.

This includes charter buses hired by the school to transport students and staff. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering in any setting should be supported to do so.

6. Sick people must stay at home.

They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate.

7. You must have a contact tracing system in place.

This includes displaying QR code posters at your entrances, your timetable, attendance register and visitor register.

8. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply at every alert level:

  • Physical distancing (not touching and not breathing on each other at Alert Level 2)
  • Hand hygiene
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces.

9. Think and plan carefully before you go ahead with any activity that brings a large number of students together and/or spectators are involved.

Some events may need to be cancelled or postponed while we remain at Alert Level 2. Inter-regional travel is possible but only where you are confident the appropriate measures will be in place at the host venue, including requirements for gatherings.

10. Your Ministry regional office team is available to provide support.

For more detailed information for Alert Level 2, please refer to our health and safety guidance.

10 things you need to know about Alert Level 3

1. Schools are open for children who need to attend

Any child who can’t be supervised at home by an appropriate person, needs to be able to attend school. Schools must be open for these children to attend.

Distance learning will need to be provided for all students who are off-site including those required to self-isolate and those individuals who health authorities have asked to stay away while waiting for a test result.

2. There is no such thing as an “essential service/business” at alert level 3 (only at alert level 4)

At Alert Level 3 a large range of businesses and services are operating (including schools and early learning services) which means that parents and caregivers may be required to go to work, rather than work from or stay at home.

3. School bubbles will need to be put in place for those attending on-site

For those who are on-site, school bubbles of no more than 20 children/students will need to be formed and keep a 2-metre distance from other school bubbles. Where possible, it is recommended that teachers stay with the same school bubble of students.

4. Schools are not classified as gatherings

Schools are exempted from physical distancing requirements when people are there to receive, provide, or support education services. All other requirements specified in the COVID-19 Public Health Response orders do however apply.

5. Schools will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at school.

Your Director of Education will work closely with you and health authorities should this occur. Please contact your Ministry regional office if you hear of a confirmed case in your school community but haven’t been advised about it by health officials.

6. Testing remains a crucial component in preventing an outbreak.

If a child or staff member is sick, they should stay home. If they have cold or flu symptoms they should call their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested. If recommended to get tested, they should do so.

7. Sick people must stay at home.

They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate.

8. You must have a contact tracing system in place.

This includes displaying QR code posters at your entrances, your timetable, attendance register and visitor register.

9. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply:

  • Physical distancing  of 1 metre inside and 2 metres outside at Alert Level 3
  • Hand hygiene
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces (daily at Alert Level 3).

10. Your Ministry regional office team is available to provide support.

For more detailed information for Alert Level 3, please refer to our health and safety guidance.

Alert Level system

New Zealand’s 4-Level Alert System specifies measures to be taken against COVID-19 at each level.

The system helps people understand the current level of risk and the restrictions that must be followed.

4-Level Alert System(external link)

The measures may be updated on the basis of:

  • new scientific knowledge about COVID-19, and
  • information about the effectiveness of intervention measures in New Zealand and elsewhere.

It is therefore possible that this information might need to change. If this occurs, we will quickly advise you of this and update the content and disseminate.

The Alert Levels may be applied at a town, city, territorial local authority, regional or national level.

Specific public health measures may be agreed for schools and early learning services which can differ from the measures applied to other organisations, businesses and individuals.

These measures will reflect the context of a school or early learning service environment, including the lower levels of risk for children and young people and the controlled nature of the environment.

Further information on the alert system can be found at covid19.govt.nz(external link).

Health and Safety at Work Act

To meet your requirements under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 you must manage risks and protect staff, children and young people.  This means that your leadership, staff, students, and community need to understand what the risks are and what they and you need to do to manage them.  How you will do this needs to be planned, thought out and discussed.   Your plans should then be detailed in your health and safety plan.

The expectation of the government, community, staff and regulators is that schools will meet the highest possible standards and that Boards of Trustees, management and individual staff actively manage adherence to the safety measures and expectations. It is expected that all involved ensure they are looking out for the health and safety of their colleagues and community, while at work. It is crucial that board members, principals and managers are seen to be leaders in this work.

Workplaces are obliged to eliminate transmission risks where possible and where not, to substitute work practices or provide as high a level of control as possible. A simple example is where possible, propping or wedging a door open rather than focusing on wiping the handles regularly. It is expected that you maintain or create new practices that meet or exceed the public health measures as they are updated.

Implementing or maintaining infectious disease controls remains vital for the health and safety of workers and other people.

It’s important that you discuss your approach to operating safely at all Alert Levels with staff or their representatives. WorkSafe recommend you talk with your staff about which controls you’ll use at each level. This means your staff will understand how you intend to manage work safely and what they need to do to help.

WorkSafe also recommend you document your approach for all alert levels so it can be shared with others, including your school community. This will also make it easier to regularly review and update your approach. This guidance has been designed to support you in this process. 

Please also refer to the WorkSafe website(external link) for further information and advice regarding COVID-19.

Public health measures and recommendations

Measure/risk

Alert Level 1

Alert Level 2

Alert Level 3

Alert level 4

Overarching description / implication for education

The disease is contained in New Zealand (but not overseas).

Schools, early learning services, tertiary education providers and workplaces are open, and must operate safely.

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

It is safe to send your children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.

High risk the disease is not contained

Schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.

Lockdown in place. Likely that disease is not contained.

All educational facilities closed on site – but open for distance learning

Public health measures at all alert levels:

If a child or staff member is sick, they should stay home (phone Healthline or their GP and get tested if a doctor or health professional recommends them to do so):

  • Staff are to observe students/children on arrival checking for symptoms and ask those presenting as unwell to go home or arrange for parents and caregivers to come and pick up. Please note, this does not mean that temperatures are to be taken.
  • Principals at state and state-integrated schools have authority to preclude a student from attending if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease under section 77 of the Education and Training Act 2020 – see Guide to Legal Powers(external link)
  • Private schools are able to ask someone presenting as ill to not attend
  • Contact the local medical officer of health if there are any concerns about someone believed on reasonable grounds to be ill, refusing to stay away.

Wash and dry hands, cough and sneeze into your elbow, don’t touch your face.

Schools connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19(external link) must close on an individual or group basis for 72 hours to allow contact tracing and cleaning. They could be closed for a further 14 days (but open for distance learning) – you will work with public health units to manage this and the direction to close will come from the Medical Officer of Health.

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 – Ministry of Health information for self-isolation(external link).

PPE is not required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by the Public Health Service. See our Face Coverings Guidance and FAQs.

Schools are required to display QR Code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App.

It is recommended to keep classroom temperatures to 18 degrees. 18 – 20 degrees is a comfortable temperature, below that there is increased risk – from a cold household, workplace or school.

Public health measures and recommendations which vary by level[1]:

Attendance on-site

It is safe for all children and students to be on-site. All school-aged students must attend.

Anyone who is self-isolating, or who has been advised by health authorities to remain at home while they wait for their COVID-19 test results must stay home.

It is safe for all children and students to be on-site (some children vulnerable to illness may choose to remain at home).

Anyone who is self-isolating, or who has been advised by health authorities to remain at home while they wait for their COVID-19 test results must stay home.

Children to learn from home if possible. On-site delivery only for children years 1 – 10.

Voluntary flexibility for some Yr 12 and 13 students to return physically to school (not a requirement) – schools must seek approval from the Secretary for Education for this to occur.

Anyone who is self-isolating, or who has been advised by health authorities to remain at home while they wait for their COVID-19 test results must stay home.

No on-site learning. Some staff may be exempted to work on-site in specific circumstances.

Method of delivery for learning

On-site with distance learning provided for those requiring to self-isolate or waiting for a test result.

On-site with distance learning provided for those requiring to self-isolate, waiting for a test result or choosing to remain at home because they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Blended delivery – on-site and distance learning.

Distance learning only.

Children at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19  (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled)

There are no restrictions on personal movement at Alert Level 1 - all children should attend school.

Children are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. Parents, caregivers and students will need to work with the school to develop a plan to manage a safe return to school. Distance learning will continue to be available to those who choose to remain at home.

Children at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home wherever possible.

Distance learning will continue to be available to those who are able to remain at home.

N/A

Staff at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19  (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled)

There are no restrictions on personal movement at Alert Level 1 - all staff are able to work at school

Staff are able to work on-site if they can do it in a safe way. Staff and employers should discuss and agree whether additional control measures can be put in place, whether these workers can work from home, or if not, what leave and pay arrangements will apply.

Staff to work with their GP or specialist if they need help understanding their own level of risk and how best to stay healthy.

Staff who have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should stay at home. If they want to come to school you may agree to the request only if it can be assured that it is safe for them to do so.

Staff to work with their GP or specialist if they need help understanding their own level of risk and how best to stay healthy.

N/A

Washing and drying hands

Soap, water and the ability to dry hands should be provided in bathrooms.

Hand sanitiser at entry to classrooms and in shared spaces where available. Soap, water and the ability to dry hands must be provided in bathrooms. If hand sanitiser is in short supply, washing and drying hands with soap is still the most effective hygiene measure.

Hand sanitiser at entry to classrooms and in shared spaces where available. Soap, water and the ability to dry hands must be provided in bathrooms. If hand sanitiser is in short supply, washing and drying hands with soap is still the most effective hygiene measure.

Anyone coming on-site must observe all hygiene and physical distancing measures for Alert Level 4.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is not a requirement but where possible or practicable is encouraged when you are around people you don’t know.

Children, young people and staff should be far enough away from each other so that they are not breathing on or touching each other, coupled with good hygiene practices and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. There does not need to be a specific measurement but where practicable and reasonable 1 metre can be used as a guide, particularly between adults.

Physical distancing of 2 metres is recommended for parents and caregivers, from people they don’t know (to align with public health measures outside the school grounds). 

Consider how to manage any possible queues at your school office (for visitors) – eg one in and one out, or marking 2-metre spacing on the ground.

Everyone must maintain a 2 metre physical distance outside and 1 metre inside.

Visitors, including parents and caregivers, should maintain a 2m distance from those who are not part of either their household or workplace/school bubble.

‘School bubbles’ of no more than 20 children formed and to keep a minimum of a 2-metre distance from other bubbles. 

To reduce congestion, consider introducing staggered entry times into classes.

Breaks, starts and finishes should be staggered and children stay in their bubbles, to minimise congregation of students in shared spaces.

NB school bubbles can move classrooms but only if high-touch surfaces are cleaned in between bubbles and no bubbles mix that aren’t already sharing a space. Recommended to keep any movement to a minimum. 

Anyone coming on-site must observe all hygiene and physical distancing measures for Alert Level 4.

Cleaning

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces is recommended

Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily

Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily.

NB school bubbles can move classrooms but only if high-touch surfaces are cleaned in between bubbles and no bubbles mix that aren’t already sharing a space. Recommended to keep any movement to a minimum. 

N/A

Limits to gatherings

Schools, like workplaces are not considered to be gatherings.

There are no restrictions on gatherings in schools at Alert Level 1.

Schools, school hostels and work places are not considered to be gatherings however specific health measures as summarised in this table, must still be applied.

However if bringing others on-site, including parents and caregivers, any rules for gatherings must apply. These rules will also apply if you are hiring out your facilities.

Schools, school hostels and work places are not considered to be gatherings however specific health measures as summarised in this table, must still be applied.

However if bringing others on-site, including parents and caregivers, any rules for gatherings must apply.

With the exception of weddings and funerals / tangihanga, there are no gatherings to be held at Alert Level 3.

No gatherings – people asked to stay at home other than for essential personal movement.

Physical and cultural activities / playgrounds

There are no restrictions on physical activities including cultural and sporting activities, practices and events.

Playgrounds open.

Physical education classes and break time activities can include access to sports equipment including playgrounds but hygiene practice should be observed before and after playing with equipment. There will also need to be regular cleaning of shared equipment such as balls, sticks etc.

Physical distance is not possible in some sporting activities. In these situations extra emphasis on handwashing and drying (or cleansing with hand sanitiser) before and after activities and regular cleaning of equipment is very important.

Physical education classes and break time activities cannot include sports with <2m physical distance or where the same equipment is touched by different students (balls, ropes, sticks, etc).

Playgrounds are closed.

N/A

Contact tracing

Contact tracing registers are not required at Alert Level 1. 

You are required to display QR code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App.

As is usual practice you will need to continue to record attendance in your SMS and record visitors coming on-site (and use this to work with local health authorities to identify close contacts, should there be a case connected with the school).

There is no requirement to include parents and caregivers undertaking drop offs and pick-ups in your visitor register however encourage them to check in to the NZ COVID Tracer App.

Please keep your visitor register for at least 2 months.

Contact tracing remains a priority through your visitor register, timetable and attendance register. You are required to display QR code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App.

To support contact tracing, record all visitors who are on-site for a period of time, including parents and caregivers, in your visitor register (as is usual practice but also to assist if contact tracing is necessary).

You should already have contact details for all your students, parents, caregivers and staff so shouldn’t need to record this (perhaps remind families, whānau and staff to update you if their address or phone number has changed, or changes). 

For drop offs and pick ups, if the parent or caregiver uses the app you don’t need to capture them in your visitor register.

For parents and caregivers who cannot use the App, you may wish to continue to record their details in a simple register when they do pick-ups and drop-offs (rather than your main visitor register). If they don’t come into your school grounds, there is no need to record their details.

Please keep your visitor register for at least 2 months.

Contact tracing remains a priority through your visitor register, timetable and attendance register. You are required to display QR code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App.

To support contact tracing, record all visitors who are on-site for a period of time, including parents and caregivers, in your visitor register (as is usual practice but also to assist if contact tracing is necessary).

You should already have contact details for all your students, parents, caregivers and staff so shouldn’t need to record this (perhaps remind families, whānau and staff to update you if their address or phone number has changed, or changes). 

For drop offs and pick ups, if the parent or caregiver uses the app you don’t need to capture them in your visitor register.

For parents and caregivers who cannot use the App, you may wish to continue to record their details in a simple register when they do pick-ups and drop-offs (rather than your main visitor register). If they don’t come into your school grounds, there is no need to record their details.

Please keep your visitor register for at least 2 months..

People visiting the site should be recorded in a register.

You are required to display QR code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App.

Please keep your visitor register for at least 2 months.

Visitors

There are no restrictions on visitors.

 

There are no restrictions on visitors with the exception that you must adhere to the rules for gatherings (eg, events and performances where others come on-site, including parents and caregivers).

Volunteers can be used at Alert Level 2 in class as long as they are meeting all the public health requirements and are recorded in your timetable and/or visitor register (make sure you have up to date contact information for them).

 

No non-essential visitors.

You must adhere to the rules for gatherings (eg, events and performances where others come on-site, including parents and caregivers).

There should be no volunteers for classroom activities.

Consider how you might monitor entrances to minimise non-essential visitors from coming on site. If staffing on site is limited, one entry point may be the most practical way to manage visitors, coupled with staggered starts.

N/A

Teaching across groups

Teachers are able to teach more than one group/class of students

Teachers are able to teach more than one group/class of students. Staff such as RTLB, itinerant music teachers and relievers will be able to work across different schools.

Where possible, it is recommended that teachers stay with the same school bubble of students.

In practice there may be a need to have a designated relief or back-up teacher identified for each school bubble

N/A

Food preparation

Operate as normal.

If you prepare food on site you must check the MPI guidance on food safety(external link) and ensure your school and any suppliers meet all health and safety requirements before you recommence the supply of food to your students.

If you prepare food on site you must check the MPI guidance on food safety(external link) and ensure your school and any suppliers meet all health and safety requirements before you recommence the supply of food to your students.

N/A

Libraries

Operate as normal.

Libraries can be operated as the virus does not survive for long on paper and cardboard (less than 24 hours), so books and other paper and cardboard can be put aside overnight and used the next day by other students. Books with plastic sleeves should be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe before re-issuing the next day.

Libraries can be operated as the virus does not survive for long on paper and cardboard (less than 24 hours), so books and other paper and cardboard can be put aside overnight and used the next day by other students. Books with plastic sleeves should be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe before re-issuing the next day.

N/A

External students on-site (eg, music programmes, technology schools)

Operate as normal.

Other schools’ students can come on-site including for school-run out of hours’ programmes. External providers can come on-site including for example other teachers and team coaches/managers.

You will need to treat the running of these programmes with strong caution, particularly if there are a number of different schools participating or large numbers of students (and parents and caregivers) involved.

It is recommended that you develop a specific health and safety plan for managing the programme. Minimising congestion should be a key priority for that plan, including in the classrooms or spaces being used for delivery.

If parents and caregivers come into the classrooms or other teaching spaces to observe, you need to apply the current rules for gatherings at this alert level.

No external students or staff on-site.

N/A

Shared supplies

Supplies can be shared. Good hygiene practices continue to be recommended.

Shared supplies and equipment are able to be used if students and staff are undertaking regular hand washing and staying away if sick.

Avoid using shared supplies

If shared supplies are necessary within a bubble, consider using designated bins for clean and used supplies. Shared supplies are considered high-touch and should be cleaned frequently

N/A

Music, instruments, singing etc

Practices, rehearsals and performances can go ahead

Instruments can be used as normal.

Good hygiene practices continue to be recommended.

Practices, rehearsals and performances can go ahead – physical distancing of 1 metre is recommended where practicable including singing and using wind instruments.

For singing, it is recommended that participants are outside and 2 metres distant from each other. Inside singing is still OK, but keep a 2 metre distance between all participants rather than 1 metre.

Do not share instruments between students or school bubbles. For example musical instruments unless they are student-owned and only handled by that student, should not be used.

Playing wind instruments (eg recorders) is not recommended in Level 3 (except at home in their home bubble)

N/A

Drinking fountains

OK to use at this level – follow usual safety precautions (regular cleaning, don’t touch mouth to metal, wash hands regularly)

Consider whether appropriate to use, particularly are students capable of using them safely? Encourage using water bottles where possible.

Drinking fountains should not be used at Alert Level 3. Water bottles should be used and appropriate health and safety considerations followed.

N/A

Good hygiene practices

Good hygiene practices will continue to be a priority at all levels as the best way to minimise potential spread of COVID-19. The covid19.govt.nz(external link) and Ministry of Health(external link) websites are a good source of information including:

There are posters(external link) available online to support you to convey key messages about hygiene.

Staying home if sick

The vast majority of 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

These symptoms are similar to a range of other illnesses, like influenza. Having them doesn’t mean a person has COVID-19, but you should remain vigilant.

Shortness of breath can indicate pneumonia, and requires urgent medical attention.

Children with asthma, hay fever, allergies, ear infections or other acute or chronic conditions may have similar symptoms.

Before a child is sent home, they should be feeling unwell and there should always be a conversation with the caregiver to determine whether there is another explanation for their child's symptoms that may mean that they do not pose a risk to others and do not need to go home.

Cleaning

When staff and students are on site regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces is recommended alongside your usual cleaning schedule. See the above table for specific public health requirements at different levels.

Review your cleaning policies and practices and consider increased cleaning for high touch surfaces (door handles, tabletops in common spaces etc.) and bathrooms. Make sure your cleaners have appropriate information, training and equipment.

Make sure the specific instructions are followed for the disinfectant being used (eg spray and leave on surfaces for 30 seconds before wiping down).

Ensure the availability of appropriate cleaning supplies (eg disinfectant and cloths) for cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

There is information about cleaning surfaces(external link) and further information about minimising the spread of infectious diseases(external link) on the Ministry of Health website.

Face coverings and other personal protective equipment

Following basic hygiene measures at home and at school are the best defence against COVID-19 including:

  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
  • put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • stay home if you are unwell and contact your GP or Healthline if you have cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms
  • don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • clean surfaces regularly.

The risk of infection increases the closer you are to someone who is infectious and the longer duration of time that you spend close to that person.

In schools, all children and young people with any COVID-like symptoms are being asked to stay at home, and we are asking schools to send anyone home who has or develops any symptoms of illness.

With the exception of Level 1, there are also physical distancing requirements.

Public Health officials have advised that if these measures are in place, then personal protective equipment is not needed.

Some people may choose to wear face masks. Encourage respect - people are being proactive in keeping themselves and others safe.

Nurses in schools and other health professionals will need to follow their own industry guidance for using PPE.

Please see our FAQs about Face Coverings for further information.

Contact tracing

In addition to displaying QR code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer app at all Alert Levels, you are also required to have a contact tracing system at Alert Levels 2 – 4 and be able to assist health authorities with contact tracing at all alert levels.

Your contact register (a combination of timetable, attendance register and visitor register) will provide good information to health authorities, so they can contact people that might be considered a close contact of a confirmed case, and determine whether they will need to self-isolate. The information you capture will need to identify which children are in each teaching space. This includes recording who the adults on-site are in close contact with as well as recording any visitors to the site, including parents and caregivers.

If parents and caregivers check-in using the NZ COVID Tracer app when doing drop-offs and pick-ups, they won’t need to also sign in through your visitor register (or simplified register).

For contact tracing purposes, the Ministry of Health(external link) describes close contacts at your school as anyone who had:

  • face-to-face contact in any setting within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
  • having been in a closed environment (eg, a classroom, hospital waiting room) within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more

Your timetable should reflect what classes teachers were rostered on for. Record the days when relief teachers and other staff were in class in addition to the timetabled teacher.

Keep recording daily student attendance in your student management system as that will also be needed for contact tracing purposes (ie was a student in class on the days when a person was at school and considered to be infectious) and more broadly to manage and support attendance.

You may also want to consider your policy for students leaving school grounds during lunchtimes or free periods (particularly at Alert Level 3).

You should already have contact details for all your students, parents, caregivers and staff so shouldn’t need to record this (remind families, whānau and staff to update you if their address or phone number has changed, or changes).

Managing in an emergency

Fire alarms and other emergencies may require you to either evacuate your buildings or move everyone inside. The priority in these situations is keeping students and staff safe from the threat arising through the emergency event – fire, flood, earthquake etc.

You will also need to ensure your health and safety plan can respond to other accidents or issues that may be faced in regard to health and safety, particularly if there are smaller numbers of staff on site. This includes having sufficient staff with first aid experience.

Managing exams (Alert Levels 1–3)

All exams including NCEA, Scholarship, Cambridge and International Baccalaureate exams are able to proceed at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3.
 
In the unlikely case that a region or regions were placed under Alert Level 4, exams will not be able to go ahead in those regions as schools are not open onsite at that level.
 
NZQA has disseminated information including a detailed checklist about managing NCEA and Scholarship exams at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3. Please contact them if you haven’t received this information.
 
At all Alert Levels:

  • If a school is at the centre of or implicated in an outbreak or cluster and/or has been closed by the Medical Officer of Health, exams will not be able to take place until public health authorities give approval.
  • Anyone who is unwell must stay away.
  • Those students identified as close contacts of a confirmed case cannot attend their exam(s).
  • Because physical distancing will be in place for all exams, there are no restrictions on the number of students attending an examination in a single venue (such as the school hall).

The following health measures should also be applied:

  • Staying away if sick.
  • Handwashing before entering the exam room (hand sanitiser at the entrance to the room would be ideal).
  • High touch surfaces should be cleaned regularly - before each exam session is recommended.
  • Ensure there is a gap of 1.5 metres between students in all directions. This provides enough distance between students, so they aren’t touching or breathing directly on each other and enables supervisors to walk safely between desks.
  • Exam candidates should be observed by staff on arrival checking for symptoms and asking those presenting as unwell to make arrangements to go home.
  • Have a room available to isolate a student (or staff member) who may become unwell.
  • Contact tracing systems must be in place.
  • Face coverings are not required in any exam setting, however individuals who choose to wear a face covering should be supported to do so.
  • Use rooms where you can ensure good ventilation.

At Alert Level 2, give consideration to how you will encourage students to keep a reasonable distance from each other before entering and leaving the exam room (not breathing on or touching each other).
 
At Alert Level 3 there are additional requirements for any exams to proceed. These have been agreed by the Ministry of Health and are detailed on the NZQA website Requirements for exam centres at Alert Level 3 [DOCX](external link).

Please contact NZQA(external link) if you have any concerns about holding exams at your school.

Keeping safe in school labs

Aim for QUALITY and SAFETY over quantity:

  • Consider measures that can help limit the exposure to COVID-19 and reduce the probability of transmission among students, teachers, technicians, cleaners and other staff.
  • Establish a department plan for personal hygiene and a disinfection schedule. Revisit this plan and schedule regularly and update as necessary.
  • Consider what essential learning you would like your students to have this year. For seniors, this will involve taking NCEA into consideration (and will depend on school-wide policy and discussion with students and their whānau). Focus on essential learning and the associated practical activities.

The New Zealand School Lab Association has provided information and guidance in their keeping safe in school labs during the COVID-19 pandemic [PDF] and Decision flow chart for practical activities under COVID-19 [PDF].
 
This information and guidance covers:

  • teacher demonstrations in the lab
  • student activity
  • technicians
  • distancing
  • personal hygiene
  • cleaning equipment and surfaces and PPE
  • waste management.

Guidance for School Hostels

We have produced guidance for school hostels for Alert Levels 1–4:

Reviewing your health and safety plan

Work with your staff to develop, implement and then regularly review your plan including your incident reporting protocols.

Further information         


[1] NB you are required to display QR Code posters for the NZ COVID Tracer App at all alert levels including Alert Level 1. However, there are no further specific public health requirements for schools and early learning services. These are recommendations only and align with the rules for Alert Level 1(external link).

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