MoE update 14 February 2021

Special Early Learning Bulletin 14 February 2021

Message from the Secretary for Education

Kia ora koutou

You will have heard today that a student at Papatoetoe High School and her parents, have tested positive for COVID-19. I am sure you will join me in sending best wishes to this family and to the school community.

New Zealand’s COVID response has swung swiftly into action. Treating any new cases with an abundance of caution is part of that plan and therefore the decision has been made to move to Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Alert Level 2 for the remainder of New Zealand, from midnight tonight (14 February).

Health authorities are quickly gathering more information about these latest cases and will review alert levels every 24 hours. 

A boundary will be put in place with travel out of the Auckland region. People who live in Auckland but are currently outside the region, will be allowed to return home. The process at the boundaries will be managed by MBIE.

The media release from Health this afternoon lists contact tracing locations of interest for Auckland and Taranaki, and everyone who has been to one of these locations in the specified times or is displaying COVID-19 symptoms is being asked to self-isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test.

Those who are considered close contacts will be self-isolating for a period of 14 days from their last contact with the confirmed cases and will be tested twice, prior to returning to school or work.

Once tested, self-isolation should continue until test results have been received and even after a negative result, it’s important to monitor any symptoms for the next 14 days from exposure.

While hoping it wouldn’t happen, we have been prepared for such an eventuality. The information below will help to remind you about the important things to do under the different alert levels. At Alert Level 3, early learning services remain open for those children who need to attend. Key staff are able to be onsite to support the roll out of your distance learning programme. 

Like this family has done, we all need to continue to do the right thing by following the advice of our health professionals and working together to stamp out community transmission. Staying home if feeling unwell, seeking advice about getting tested, washing hands regularly and scanning in using the NZ COVID Tracer App continue to support our ‘stamp it out’ approach.

For the vast majority of Auckland kaiako and ākonga, teaching and learning will be remote over the next few days (hopefully no more).  Of most importance at this time in the year is making connections with family and whānau and their tamariki; whatever your set up (and I know Tāmaki Makaurau teachers have done a lot to be prepared for this situation) being in virtually in touch, and making sure children are OK cannot be overestimated over the next 72 hours.

Ministry Auckland staff will be working remotely and will be there to provide advice and support. 

We wanted to get this information out to you as soon as we could, after the Government had made its decisions. We will continue to update you over the coming days as new information becomes available and decisions are made. 

Please reach out to your local office if you need additional support to ensure the health and wellbeing of your children and your staff. And remember be kind and look after each other!
 
Kia kaha

Iona

Changes to alert levels

Following the announcements this evening, Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Alert Level 2 for the remainder of New Zealand is to be put in place from midnight tonight, for 72 hours.
 
You will already be familiar with alert level requirements with detailed information also available on our website

However, in brief, we confirm the following will apply for both early learning services and schools:

Alert Level 3 – Auckland Region

Alert Level 3 applies from midnight tonight: 

1. Early Learning Services 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 early learning.

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 early learning services and schools) which means that parents and caregivers may be required to go to work, rather than work from or stay at home.

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

4. Early Learning Services are not classified as gatherings
Early Learning Services 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. Services will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at the service.
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 early learning 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, attendance register and visitor register.

9. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply:
•    Adults should physically distance by 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

Draft email for Auckland parents and caregivers

You may like to use the following text to communicate with parents and whānau:

14 February 2020

Kia ora koutou, Talofa lava

There have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Auckland.
As a result, the Government announced at 7pm that the whole of Auckland will move from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 3 for the next 72 hours from midnight tonight.

That means that where possible you should keep your children home from early learning for this period. 

We will be open for those of you who have no other options but to send your children to our service and we will have safety precautions in place to look after them.

Although this is for a short period at this time we are activating our distance learning plan tomorrow morning, as we did when we have been in previous lock downs.  First and foremost we want to stay connected to you and your tamariki.

COVID-19 continues to be a factor we need to consider, and I assure you we have a robust plan and will do everything we need to for your children and your wider family and whānau.

If the situation changes, we will be in touch again. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions.

Ngā mihi
(name)

Alert Level 2 – All of New Zealand excluding Auckland region

Alert Level 2 applies from midnight tonight for 72 hours.

1. Early Learning Services are open to everyone, and all children may 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 early learning 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. Services are not classified as gatherings and a range of events and activities can go ahead.
For most day to day activities at services, the rules for gatherings do not apply. Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order, services 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 parents and caregivers, then the rules for gatherings do apply. 

4. Services will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at the service.
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 early learning community but haven’t been advised about it by health officials.

5. Face coverings are not required.
This includes vans provided to transport children and staff. Vans can be used to transport all children/tamariki, the van should be cleaned daily. Physical distancing of 1m between all adults involved in the pick-up/drop off is encouraged. 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, attendance register and visitor register.

8. Fundamental public health measures continue to apply at every alert level:
•    Physical distancing for adults (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 children together and/or spectators are involved.
Some events may need to be cancelled or postponed when we are at Alert Level 2. 

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.