MoE Update – 19 March 2020

Information supplied from Ministry of Education on Thursday 19 March 2020.

The Government’s announcement that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are to be cancelled, does not apply to early learning services.

What would trigger the closure of an ECE?

At this stage, no ECE’s have been required to close. There has been one temporary closure of a school (following Ministry of Health direction) which was the result of one student testing positive for COVID-19.

The school will reopen next week, but the 150 students and staff (close contacts of the infected student) will remain away from the school for a period of 14 days from when they last had contact with the student confirmed with the virus. Unless the testing shows otherwise, those close contacts are not assumed to be sick. It is a precaution only to keep those people and those around them safe.

What happens in the case of closure of an ECE?

If a child or staff member at a Playcentre is confirmed with COVID-19, health authorities may require your service to close. This will assist in tracking and tracing close contacts.

What happens if you do have a confirmed case?

If there is a confirmed case linked with your service, you will be quickly advised by the Medical Officer of Health.

Regional Ministry of Education staff will work with you and local health authorities to agree on a plan – this will happen quickly, and support will be provided to assist you to communicate with and support your community.

What is the possibility of ECEs being closed?

The Ministry of Health has advised that there are plans in place if we are faced with higher levels of risk. Those plans could mean ECEs being closed for a period of time.

Most of the scenarios at these higher risk levels relate to community transmission. Community transmission is when a confirmed case had no known contact with another confirmed case and hasn’t recently arrived from overseas. There is currently no community transmission in New Zealand.

When is sick, sick?

The messaging remains clear – that if you are feeling unwell please stay home, and the same goes for children and young people.  However at the tail end of a cold, there will be runny noses and probably some coughing. This might be worrying for some people who are being vigilant about their own and others’ health.

A diagram has been developed by Dr Siouxsie Wiles to assist you when considering symptoms (sent to us by a teacher who found it useful). What it tells us is:
•    A dry cough and a high temperature are common to both flu and COVID-19.
•    Sneezing is not a symptom of COVID-19. However if someone has COVID-19, then sneezing can spread droplets containing the virus.