COVID-19 update for Schools – 25 March

Marist School in Auckland

You may have seen that Marist School in Auckland has had a number of cases confirmed this week. Our regional staff have been working with regional health authorities to provide support to the school with communications going out from the school to all their families and whānau this week. Our thoughts are with them. 

State of Emergency declared

A nationwide message will go out to all of New Zealand between 6pm and 7pm this evening. It is vital that all your community understand how crucial it is that they self-isolate within their group, minimise travel, practice physical distancing when outside their group and outside, and practice very good hygiene for the next 4 weeks.
 
There will be no tolerance for people who don’t self-isolate. 

Schools are closed

After 11.59pm today, no one is to go on site to schools during the lockdown. If there is an emergency Police and/or Fire services will respond. 

Government announcement about children aged 0 – 14 of Essential Workers

Further to our Bulletin content about self-isolating groups (circles of care), Government has confirmed the following arrangements today. You may wish to forward this to your community immediately.
 
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.

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 to perform their essential service, 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. 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

Payroll

Yesterday saw Schools Payroll put $225.1M into the pockets of 98,593 school employees. This reflects the terms of new employment agreements coming into effect for non-teaching employees.
 
We recognise that some schools are having issues with accessing functionality for ‘autopay’ for relievers and term-time only employees, and we want to let you know that we are working very hard to improve the process for you. As soon as a better solution has been confirmed we will advise you.

Please know that school employees are our top priority and all schooling sector employees will continue to get paid with no change to the regularity of payments every fortnight.

We are working through all the detail at the moment but this takes some time. We will keep you updated via the Bulletin and through Payroll Updates and alerts.
 
As mentioned in Monday’s Bulletin, and in line with New Zealand's COVID-19 response, the Education Payroll team is now working from home. For the time being please continue to contact them for payroll related queries through their email network support@novopay.govt.nz . As you can imagine they are experiencing very high demands on their time at the moment. Please be patient and kind.
 
We have further updated our information online for all staffing provisions here – Staffing provisions

Update regarding Annual Reporting and School Audit Process

As noted yesterday, due to the current situation, we know that schools may not be able to submit their annual financial statements to their auditors by 31 March 2020 or participate as they normally would do in the audit process. 

We accept that this will mean some schools will be late with meeting their statutory obligations. Schools will not be penalised if they are unable to submit their annual financial statements, or complete their audits on time.
 
The Office of the Auditor General is talking to relevant agencies, including the Treasury, about what the current circumstances mean for everyone and how they affect the usual accountability obligations of public entities, including schools.
 
OAG will provide updates at the following address: https://oag.parliament.nz/media/2020/covid-and-auditing

Support for learning at home

We know many of you have already completed take home packs for your students and/or have implemented your distance learning programmes.
 
This is an update on the support the Ministry is providing for learning at home. Over the next two and a half weeks we will be working with you so you are supported for the 15th of April to open your school and kura for distance learning (16 April for Southland).
 
This is an update on where things are at, to support your planning.

Learning from home website and Ki te Ao Mārama

Two online spaces went live this week. These have been produced with other agencies and are available online at https://www.learningfromhome.govt.nz/ and https://www.kauwhatareo.govt.nz/ki-te-ao-marama/ with resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders spanning early learning through to senior secondary.
 
These are a one stop shop for teaching and learning at home. 

We have launched these now so people have time to get familiar with the site and we can keep developing it to meet your needs. Current content is just the start of the guidance, tools and resources we will be uploading to support teachers and parents.

Ki te Ao Marama has been developed to support those students learning te reo Māori and for those in kōhanga reo, kura and Māori medium settings.  They have been purposefully packaged to support learning at home. 

  • Teachers can use both online spaces to point students to activities they think would help them learn at home.
  • Leaders and teachers can use the site to start their thinking and planning for learning from home.
  • Parents and whānau will find advice and activities they can use to support learning at home, without needing to become teachers themselves.

This week we will be working to add specific planning tools to support teachers to think about and plan distance learning online.
 
If you have any great ideas that would help others and requests for specific types of resources for the website please contact Curriculum.Design@education.govt.nz
For those who wish to support learning te reo Māori at home and for those learning in te reo Māori please contact TeReo.MaoriGroup@education.govt.nz with any great ideas you think will help others. 

NZQA 

NZQA and the Ministry of Education will help schools and wharekura develop effective plans for NCEA assessment and qualifications for students affected by COVID-19, including supporting remote learning. NCEA’s flexibility is a huge strength in times like these, and means that we can adapt how we deliver and use NCEA to fit with our conditions – including remote learning.

We will be supporting schools to use this flexibility in how they manage internal assessment through remote learning, and to generate grades derived from learning programmes should attendance at external assessments be disrupted.

Work is also underway to make sure that all qualifications, awards and pathways (including University Entrance and Vocational Pathways) will remain available through any disruptions.  
 
NZQA and the Ministry will keep using their usual communication channels to keep school and wharekura leadership up to date.
 
For students taking part in Trades Academies and Gateway Programmes, further information can be found at https://youthguarantee.education.govt.nz/
 
For those students who are studying for the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, contact your school with any questions and they can direct you to the best source of information. 

Access to devices and the Internet

We know that not all households will have access to devices for their children to use for their learning. We also know that some households will have Internet connectivity issues. We are working hard on increasing connectivity and getting devices to households that need them.  This is complex and we will be working with schools and communities on how we make this happen. 
 
In the next week we will be in touch about support you need for online learning, devices and hard copy resources. 

Hard copy material for home

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. We will update you on this as soon as we can.

Support for your school to design and implement distance learning

All schools and kura can access additional support for distance learning:

  • You can ask your current PLD facilitator for help and support to plan distance learning
  • If you want to use a PLD provider to help support thinking and planning for distance learning but you don’t have PLD hours or your current facilitator is unable to help please contact the PLD mailbox. pld.enquiries@education.govt.nz and we will be in contact to help broker some support.
  • We know a number of schools can carry on online, if we can help please let us know, through the PLD mailbox pld.enquiries@education.govt.nz
  • A number of you identified through our survey you were unsure about your readiness or did not feel ready to provide learning. There were a range of reasons for that and we will be in touch to discuss the best way to support you.

First time principal support

This support will continue through your leadership advisor. Leadership advisors are ready and set up to work with you from a distance. 

Microsoft & Google technology support sessions for schools establishing distance learning

To assist schools who have any technology support questions (where you can ask anything) Microsoft & Google are holding online meetings to support schools establishing or offering distance learning for their students.
 
Alternatively schools can get assistance from their IT Service Provider. 

Removing data caps for internet

Please be advised most of the major telcos have now removed data caps and the possibility of any extra charges based on usage.
 
Please see the links to those major companies below if your staff or students working from home need further support with this.
 
SPARK - https://www.spark.co.nz/help/covid-19/
“Removing overage charges for customers who are on data-capped broadband plans, so they won’t have to worry about paying extra to stay connected. This applies to both small and medium business and consumer customers;”
 
VODAFONE - https://news.vodafone.co.nz/covid-19-care
“The removal of data caps from data-capped Broadband plans for consumers and small to medium sized businesses until at least the end of June 2020”
 
VOCUS/SLINGSHOT - https://help.slingshot.co.nz/hc/en-us/articles/900000386943-Our-action-against-COVID-19?_ga=2.224375707.1878754814.1585097493-87562686.1585097493
“We removed all the data caps from our plans to better enable you to work from home during this time of social distancing and self-isolation.”
 
2DEGREES - https://www.2degreesmobile.co.nz/help-and-support/mobile/your-account/covid-19/
“Any customer who was on a limited data plan on or before Friday, March 20 will now receive unlimited data through until June 2020.”

Education Gazette

In light of the impact COVID-19 is having on schools, kura and early learning services, the most recent issue of the Education Gazette has been published in digital format only.

You can access this issue here. We encourage all school leaders, teachers, kaiako and support staff to sign up here to receive the Education Gazette by email to help stay informed.

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