Education

Guidance on education during each Alert Level, including distance learning and sending children to school.

Education at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, all early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary education facilities are open to everyone. There are no restrictions on school activities like camps, sports practices, school productions and interschool events.

If you or your child is sick, staying home is the best thing you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Remind your tamariki (children) to wash and dry their hands often, and cough or sneeze into their elbow.

All schools, kura and early learning services legally must display a QR code. If you have older children, encourage them to sign in and keep track of where they have been. The NZ COVID Tracer app is the best way to help us contact trace quickly and safely.

Advice for parents and whānau (external link)

Education at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, all early learning services, schools, kura and tertiary education facilities are open to everyone.

Schools should put extra public health control measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep staff, students and tamariki safe.

Schools should provide distance learning options for tamariki who cannot attend school – for example, if they need to self-isolate.

School events or activities like performances, cultural events and sports can continue. Ākonga and teachers do not need to physically distance. But parents, carers and whānau who visit the school should try to keep 2 metres apart from people they do not know.

Boarding schools

Primary and secondary school students are allowed to travel across the Alert Level Boundary to return to their school hostel. This includes travelling to an Alert Level 3 area or travelling to an Alert Level 2 area to get to school. Parents or caregivers can travel with their children, but they must return home after dropping their children off. Students must stay in their school hostel for the remainder of the 2021 year.

Students and parents or caregivers must carry evidence of their travel and meet all testing requirements.

Travel across an Alert Level 3 and 2 boundary

More information for students, whānau and the education sector (external link)

Tertiary providers and whare wānanga

At Alert Level 2, tertiary students can attend classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, and meetings in person. Tertiary providers should provide distance learning options for those students who cannot attend classes in person, and to make sure students who do attend in-person classes can distance safely.

Ministry of Education advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga (external link)

Students can travel between an Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 3 area to attend classes in person, and return to their student accommodation. If you have already relocated (for example to your student accomodation), you can go back to get your belongings. You can travel in either direction across the Alert Level Boundary, and you should move your belongings in as few trips as possible. 

You may need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result administered no more than 72 hours before your travel, and you will also need to carry evidence of your reason to travel.

You are also permitted to travel back home for the holidays at the end of the university year.

Travel across an Alert Level 3 and 2 boundary

Face coverings

Face coverings in schools and tertiary education facilities for those aged 12 and over is strongly encouraged, but it is not a requirement.

Staff and students must wear a face covering at tertiary education facilities when accessing services such as student health, pharmacies, banks and other retailers on campus.

Education at Alert Level 3

Early learning services

At Alert Level 3, early learning centres can open to provide childcare for tamariki (children) whose parents need to go into work. Play centres and play groups must close.

Step 2 (Auckland)

Early learning centres can reopen to all tamariki, with a maximum of 20 children in each bubble.

Parents and caregivers must wear a face covering when picking up and dropping off their tamariki, and try to keep 1 metre distance from others.

Teaching staff, including volunteers, must get a negative COVID-19 test within the 5 days before they return to work, even if they do not have any symptoms. 

Home based early learning services can continue to provide education for tamariki.

Play groups and play centres cannot open.

Getting a COVID-19 test

Advice for bubbles at early learning centres | education.govt.nz (external link)

Schools and kura

Schools and kura will be open for tamariki in Years 1 to 10 whose parents or carers need to go to work and have no available options for childcare. All young people in Years 11, 12 and 13 should learn from home.

We encourage you to keep your tamariki at home if you have other caregiving options. Your child's school will work with you to find out which tamariki need to go into school.

Schools should provide distance learning options for all tamariki and young people who are learning from home, including those tamariki who need to self-isolate and cannot attend school.

Schools must set up bubbles to help maintain physical distancing in the classroom and outside. Each bubble should have no more than 20 tamariki or rangatahi. Teachers are not included in this total. Teachers should stay with the same bubble of students.

Step 2 (Auckland)

Tamariki in Years 1 to 10 can now return to school for face-to-face learning — this may be full time or part time. Each school or kura will decide what works best for their learners. Your child's school will be in contact with you to let you know how they will be operating.

Tamariki will be able to travel across the Alert Level Boundary each day to attend school — if they need to. Tamariki do not need to get a COVID-19 test to cross the boundary, but they will need to carry evidence of the reason for their travel, and their destination.

Travel across an Alert Level Boundary

Staff and students in Years 4 to 10 will be required to wear a face covering indoors — unless they are exempt. We encourage parents or caregivers whose tamariki have a disability or health condition that makes wearing a face covering unsuitable to apply for an exemption for their child in preparation for their return to school.

Exemptions from face coverings

Ākonga (students) in Years 11, 12 and 13 in Alert Level 3 areas can attend school for face-to-face learning. Ākonga who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should continue to learn from home, unless they are fully vaccinated.

All ākonga and staff must wear a face covering when at school — unless they are exempt. This includes on school transport services. 

All NCEA and Scholarship exams will continue and will follow public health guidelines.

Alert Level 3 requirements for secondary schools

Ministry of Education resources and advice for parents and whānau for learning from home (external link)

Advice for everyone

Boarding schools

Primary and secondary school students are allowed to travel across the Alert Level Boundary to return to their school hostel. This includes travelling to an Alert Level 3 area or travelling to an Alert Level 2 area to get to school. Parents or caregivers can travel with their children, but they must return home after dropping their children off. Students must stay in their school hostel for the remainder of the 2021 year.

Students and parents or caregivers must carry evidence of their travel and meet all testing requirements.

Travel across an Alert Level 3 and 2 boundary

Testing requirements for teachers 

Staff who have not yet returned to work will need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before they can work on site. The testing requirements apply to volunteers, contractors and unpaid staff. Everyone must get a test, even if they have been fully vaccinated.

Tertiary providers and whare wānanga

At Alert Level 3 — including Steps 1 and 2, all tertiary education providers should deliver their courses online. 

In some cases online learning may not be an option  for example lab work or research. Tertiary providers can deliver some education services in person if they can meet public health guidelines. 

Limit in person classes or workshops to 10 people per class. This group of 10 should include the tutor. Each class is considered a bubble and must not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10.

Staff and students should wear a face covering when attending classes in person.  

Students can travel between an Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 3 area to attend classes in person, and return to their student accommodation. If you have already relocated (for example to your student accomodation), you can go back to get your belongings. You can travel in either direction across the Alert Level Boundary, and you should move your belongings in as few trips as possible. 

You may need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result administered no more than 72 hours before your travel, and you will also need to carry evidence of your reason to travel.

You are also permitted to travel back home for the holidays at the end of the university year.

Travel across an Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 2 boundary

Ministry of Education advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga (external link)

Ministry of Education advice for tertiary students (external link)

Student accommodation

Student accommodation — for example university halls of residence — can remain open with physical distancing and extra hygiene measures. Students should continue to stay in their accommodation and keep to their bubble.

Teacher aides

If your tamariki or rangatahi has a learning need, you can invite one teacher aide to be a part of your bubble so they can provide face-to-face learning. The teacher aide cannot join any other school bubble.

Education at Alert Level 4

At Alert Level 4, all education facilities are closed.

This includes:

  • early learning services
  • schools
  • kura
  • tertiary education providers and whare wānanga

All students must learn from home. Your child's school will contact you directly about organising learning materials and devices to be delivered to your home.

Tertiary accommodation can remain open. If you normally live in student accommodation, but you travelled home to stay with friends or whānau during Alert Level 4, you cannot return to your student accommodation until Alert Level 4 restrictions are lifted.

Learning from home resources and information | Ministry of Education (external link)

Home learning TV | TVNZ  (external link)

Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora | Māori TV (external link)

COVID-19 information | Ministry of Education (external link)

Childcare services for Alert Level 4 workers

If you are working for an Alert Level 4 business or service and you have no available options for childcare, you can extend your household bubble to include a carer for your tamariki.

The carer can leave their home to provide childcare for your tamariki.

The carer cannot join another household bubble.

When to stay home

All tamariki, rangatahi, and ākonga (students) should stay home if they are unwell. If you or your child develops cold or flu symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline for advice.

If you or your child are told to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately. 

If you or your child are asked to get a COVID-19 test, please get one. COVID-19 tests are free for everyone, including international students. By getting a test you are helping keep everyone safe.

More information on getting a COVID-19 test

Face coverings

At Alert Levels 1 and 2, face coverings in schools and tertiary education facilities are strongly encouraged for those aged 12 and over  but they are not a requirement.

At Alert Level 3, all staff and students in Year 9 to Year 13 must wear a face covering when indoors.

Parents and caregivers may want to wear a face covering when dropping or picking up their tamariki from school.

Tamariki and students who are over 12 years old legally must wear a face covering on public transport — including on school transport.

People with certain health or medical conditions do not have to wear face coverings.

Find out when you need to wear a face covering

Vaccination requirements for education workers

From 1 January 2022, all staff and support people who have contact with tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) must be fully vaccinated. They need to have their first dose by 15 November 2021.

At Alert Level 3, staff who are not fully vaccinated must continue to get tested for COVID-19 and provide evidence of a negative test result every 7 days until they are fully vaccinated.

Mandatory vaccinations for the education sector

Find testing locations in your area (external link)

If a case of COVID-19 is identified at a school

If there is a positive case of COVID-19 identified at a school or kura, the school will work the Ministry of Education and public health authorities to seek advice.

Advice for schools and kura with a confirmed case of COVID-19 | education.govt.nz (external link)

Financial support for students

If you are a student who is struggling financially, you may be able to ask Studylink for help. 

COVID-19 information for students (external link)

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