MoE Update – 26 August 2021

Information supplied from Ministry of Education on Thursday 26 August 2021.  

Early Learning Bulletin 26 August 2021

Message from the Secretary for Education

Ngā mihi o te ahiahi,

The team has fielded many questions about how we would operate under Alert Level 3, if and when that decision is taken, and we’ve tried to cover these off too, to the extent we can at this time.  There will, of course, be another Bulletin tomorrow.

The sooner you have an idea of how many children are likely to attend your early learning service the better. While very few children attended under pervious Alert Level 3 that may not be the same this time.  

Your leadership during any alert level shifts is incredibly important.  How we react as a sector and how we prepare for staff and tamariki returning to early learning will be a mark of the profession.  Thank you for the huge step up that this pandemic has required.  Please look after your own well-being and check in with your colleagues.

Your Education Directors and their teams are available to provide advice and support, please contact them.

Ngā manaakitanga

Recently updated advice for Early Learning Services:

In today’s bulletin:

  • Current Alert Level 3 guidance
  • Paying relievers
  • Supporting staff at Alert Level 3

Current Alert Level 3 guidance

While we don’t know when alert levels may change, we are conscious that you need time to prepare the changes in advance of when they do take place.  Equally we won’t know if there will be any changes to a future Alert Level 3 Health Order until after Cabinet meet and agree future settings for Alert Level 3. If that does occur, we’ll notify you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we have included information tonight reminding you of current settings at Alert Level 3. While there may be some tweaks to come, this forms a sound basis for planning at this point.  You can find the current guidance below.

Health and safety in licensed early learning services and kōhanga reo for COVID-19 [PDF, 792KB]

Paying relievers 

We have been fielding a number of queries about pay for relief teachers.

We appreciate that employers and teachers alike are all doing their very best to make things work under challenging circumstances.

Employers need to continue to meet their usual employment and contractual obligations. We encourage employers and employees to work together in good faith on employment arrangements through COVID-19. Working together in good faith means having an open and honest conversation, and working constructively through options together.

Ministry of Education operational funding will continue to be paid to all early learning service providers during the lockdown period. Some providers may also be eligible for other financial supports, including the COVID-19 wage subsidy. These funding streams together aim to support service providers to be able to retain and pay their staff, including relievers.

We’ll continue to update the guidance and information on our website to support you and your staff. Today, we’ve added some information about applying for the COVID-19 wage subsidy for relievers. 

Applying for the COVID-19 wage subsidy for relievers

Supporting staff at Alert Level 3 

We want all early learning services and staff to feel confident and prepared for the eventual change in COVID-19 Alert Levels. We appreciate the leadership and support services have continued to show their staff. 

At Alert Level 3, services should manage their staff in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of health and safety measures and reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19. 

At Alert Level 3 staff members (including teachers and support staff) do not need to be fully vaccinated to work on site. The exception to this are staff members who have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, if they are not yet fully vaccinated. They should not work onsite at Alert Level 3.  

We recommend all employers initiate conversations with their teachers and other staff about who may be best placed to return to work as necessary. 

Throughout Alert Level 3 (and 2), teachers and other staff continue to have access to their usual employment agreement entitlements, including the child contact/non-contact provisions of those agreements.

Where the usual work that a staff member performs is not available, consider providing them with alternate duties as you adjust to different alert levels. 

Reasons some staff may need to remain at home

All staff must stay at home if they:

  • are sick with COVID-19, or unwell generally
  • need to self-isolate, as per Ministry of Health guidelines, due to close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19
  • are caring for dependents who need to self-isolate, as per Ministry of Health guidelines

Where specific regions are at Alert Level 3, you may have staff who cannot get to your service because they are unable to enter or exit an Alert Level 3 zone. Consider asking these staff to work from home wherever practicable.