COVID-19: Advice

Staff and students should not attend school if they are unwell. If you have symptoms of cold or flu, contact Healthline’s COVID-19 health advice line (0800 3585453). If you are told to self-isolate, you must do so immediately. If you are advised to get a COVID-19 test, please get one and isolate until you have received a negative result. By getting a test you are helping keep everyone safe.

Vaccination requirements

The Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order requires those working in schools to be fully vaccinated to work on-site from 1 January 2022.

If you are a new teacher or returning to teaching in 2022 after a breakaway and you will need to get fully vaccinated before you be on the school site, or get an appropriate medical exemption because you cannot be vaccinated.

You should book appointments through Book My Vaccine.   

If you cannot find an appointment within two weeks, call the COVID-19 Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 between 8 am to 8 pm any day of the week.  Tell them you are an essential education worker so your vaccination can be prioritised, and they’ll assist in arranging a suitable time.   

If you have not already done so you should discuss the vaccination with your own medical practitioner or the general Healthline number on0800 611 116. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

If you do not want to get vaccinated, you should contact your PPTA Field Officer for advice. 

Full vaccination currently means two shots of Pfizer or AstraZeneca. The exceptions are for those who have a current Ministry of Health vaccination exemption and those vaccinated overseas with an approved single-dose vaccine. Employers must undertake a health and safety review for the former to ensure a safe working and learning environment. 

Vaccine passports expire after 6 months because booster shots may be required to ensure ongoing protection against Covid and because medical exemptions are only valid for six months.

It is difficult to predict what will be required in 6 months’ time as many things can change. Given that the vaccine loses effectiveness over time and assuming the current framework applies, we should anticipate that 'fully immunised/vaccinated' may by then mean having received a booster. 

If the booster becomes part of the definition of fully immunised, then not getting it may mean that you would be ineligible to continue to perform onsite duties from the expiry of your current vaccine passport. We are waiting for confirmation from the Ministry of Health.

See also advice for unvaccinated members.

Applying for jobs – Vaccination status 

The requirement of the employer is to employ the best person eligible for employment in the role.

Boards will have to make an assessment before advertising about whether the duties could be undertaken off-site or on-site at times when students are not there. 

If the duties could be undertaken off-site/out of student hours then the board could employ you if you are not vaccinated but there may be additional requirements to ensure that the PHO is not breached and their health and safety obligations are met. 

If the duties cannot be undertaken off-site/out of student hours, then the board cannot employ you if you would not meet the requirements of the PHO to be fully vaccinated after 1 January 2022 or have an exemption. 

Whether or not the duties require vaccination might be set out in the ad and/or the information for applicants. 

If you have a medical exemption that meets the MoH guidelines you can apply but the appointment might be provisional on you agreeing to specific health and safety measures. These would have to be reasonable and practicable. 

As an applicant, you cannot be asked if asked you are vaccinated or have an exemption or to provide medical evidence, but you can be asked if you would meet the requirements of the PHO if you were appointed. 

If you are offered the job you would have to provide approved vaccination or exemption evidence to the employer. The offer of the job would be subject to the provision of suitable evidence by a specified date. 

Vaccine information  

COVID-19 Self-isolation and managed isolation

COVID-19 vaccines | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) 

COVID-19 vaccination: Your questions answered | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) 

NZ Vaccine Facts | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) 

What you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)   

COVID-19 vaccine Q&A #1: How were the COVID-19 vaccines created safely and quickly? - YouTube 

Vaccine advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) 

Sarah's story: Deciding to get the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant - YouTube 

Vaccine advice if you have a health condition | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz) 

Latta, Brewerton and Petousis-Harris answered questions in a Facebook live event. 

Bloomfield, Turner, Wiles and Prescott answered questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine. 

Forbes and Elder discuss some key concerns and hesitancies. 

Vax Facts with Māori Doctors: Jordan, Reid, McKree-Jansen, Brewerton (specialists in Māori health). 

A rangatahi panel with Dr Jason Tuhoe  kōrero about the vaccine. 

Straight Up with Dr. Lily Fraser – The Panel. 

University of Auckland vaccinologist Petousis-Harris looks at 10 vaccine myths circulating on social media. 

You can find accurate and reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources including:   

You can keep up to date with current information and frequently asked questions by following the above organisations’ social media channels, or speaking with your health provider.    

Vaccine passport evidence for adults and teachers

Schools are legally obliged to require evidence of full vaccination from adults attending events/gatherings from outside the school at levels 2 & 3 and at all three traffic light stages.

Schools have a record of the teachers’ vaccination status and have sighted evidence of it.  There is no need to require further evidence at this stage.

If schools need evidence of a booster dose next year then they may require the updated vaccine passport or your MYCOVID record, though it is possible the information about your vaccination status may be provided directly to your employer by the Ministry of Health.

COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Lights system)

This advice is based upon current information and will be updated as required.

About the new framework

Green

Orange

Red

Dealing with positive cases in the school (Green, Orange and Red)

 

What is the traffic light system?

The traffic lights system (COVID-19 Protection Framework or CPF) is designed to manage the spread of COVID, not to eliminate it. The traffic light ‘colour’ will reflect the risk of transmission within your local community rather than across major geographic areas and the pressures this places on the local health system.

  • Green means some community cases, limited transmission, hospitalisations locally are manageable.
  • Orange means a level of community transmission that is putting pressure on the local health system.
  • Red means there is a risk of unsustainable numbers of hospitalisations locally.

The traffic light system | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)

Will schools be closed under this system?

School/Kura are considered by the MoH to be comparatively low risk for transmitting COVID-19 in a highly vaccinated population. The advice is that they still need to prepare for the possibility of outbreaks onsite or in their community and for localised closures, based on public health advice. There are likely to be groups of staff or students who are self-isolating at any given time.

With a highly vaccinated population, it is not seen as necessary for a school to immediately close when a case has been identified as infectious while at school. Most people in secondary schools or Kura, if they are following public health measures, will be able to continue to attend school. However, they will be expected to watch for COVID symptoms, and to get a test if symptoms develop.

Detailed information on processes for dealing with identified cases can be found here:

Schools connected to a confirmed case

Managing-COVID-19-A-public-health-toolkit-for-secondary-schools-and-kura.pdf (arphs.health.nz)

What does my school have to do to get ready for the new system?

Your school has obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the health and safety of its staff, children and the public. It will need to conduct health and safety assessments based on the official guidance provided. This includes considering the possible range of ways to reduce risks to health and safety from COVID under each of the three levels.  You will be required to follow the requirements of your school at each level when carrying out duties and when students/children are otherwise present.

Your school will need prepared processes for notifying staff, students and communities of changes, and for moving back and forth across the three levels. The minimum requirements for the three levels are set out below.

The school’s COVID response plan should be updated, in consultation with the elected health and safety officer(s), to cover each level.

Will students and parents have to be vaccinated?

There is no mandate requiring this at any of the three levels. Schools cannot require that students or parents/caregivers be vaccinated. You cannot require proof of vaccination from students.

Green

The school will be open, and staff and students are expected on site. There are no restrictions on crossing between different traffic-light zones to get to school.  Some students may remain home and be supported in offsite learning.

Minimum requirements

Illness and tracking

  • All staff and volunteers will be fully vaccinated according to the requirements of the Public Health Order – Vaccination.
  • If you feel sick, stay home if sick and get medical advice about whether you need to be COVID-tested.
  • Monitor students for symptoms. The school must arrange for them to go home if they have them.
  • If you have an underlying health condition and/or a medical exemption you will need to work with the school to mitigate risks to you in ways that take into account the level of COVID-19 exposure in the community.

Hygiene measures

  • Basic hygiene measures will apply (washing hands, good coughing/sneezing practices, avoiding touching your face. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces are recommended.
  • The school must have contact tracing measures in place (QR code posters, attendance registers, visitors registers)
  • Rooms should have good ventilation.
  • Face coverings are recommended but not required.
  • Physical distancing is not a requirement but where possible or practicable is encouraged when you are around people you don’t know.

Activities and people from outside

  • Students from other schools are allowed on site if following general health rules.
  • Gatherings with people from outside the school are allowed subject to any general rules for gatherings applying at the time. You can require vaccination certificates from adults in line with general rules for events in place at the time. Alert level information | Sport New Zealand - Ihi Aotearoa (sportnz.org.nz)
  • Exams can proceed but must have public health measures in place appropriate to the level. Students from other schools are able to attend onsite, in order to sit their exams.

Orange

The school will be open, and staff and students expected on site. There are no restrictions on crossing between different traffic-light zones to get to school.  Some students may remain home and be supported in offsite learning.

Minimum requirements

Illness and tracking

  • All staff and volunteers will be fully vaccinated according to the requirements of the Public Health Order – Vaccination.
  • If you feel sick, stay home if sick and get medical advice about whether you need to be COVID-tested.
  • Monitor students for symptoms. The school must arrange for them to go home if they have them.
  • If you have an underlying health condition and/or a medical exemption you will need to work with the school to mitigate risks to you in ways that take into account the level of COVID-19 exposure in the community.

Hygiene measures

  • Basic hygiene measures will apply (washing hands, good coughing/sneezing practices, avoiding touching your face). Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily. Use hand sanitiser at entrances to indoor spaces.
  • The school must have contact tracing measures in place (QR code posters, attendance registers, visitors registers)
  • Rooms should have good ventilation.
  • Students age 12 and above are required to wear masks on school transport.
  • Masks are encouraged, but not required indoors.
  • Physical distancing is not a requirement but where possible or practicable is encouraged when you are around people you don’t know.
  • Singing, dancing, shouting and similar activities should be limited to well-ventilated areas or outdoors.
  • If students from other schools are onsite a 1m distance should be maintained if possible.

Activities and people from outside

  • Curriculum related events with large groups of students should only proceed if necessary and if so should take place in well-ventilated rooms or outdoors.
  • Non-curriculum related events should only occur if a vaccination certificate is required and if bringing others onsite the general rules for events will apply. Alert level information | Sport New Zealand - Ihi Aotearoa (sportnz.org.nz)
  • Inter-school activities which are not curriculum-based should not go ahead or should be limited.
  • Exams can proceed but there must be public health measures in place appropriate to the level. Students from other schools are able to attend onsite to sit their exams.

Red

The schools and Kura are open unless the closure is advised by the MoH. Staff and students may be on-site, subject to specific health requirements. Some students may remain home and be supported in offsite learning. There are no restrictions for teachers, students, and parents/caregivers that prevents them from crossing between different traffic-light zones to get to school. 

Minimum requirements

Illness and tracking

  • All staff and volunteers will be fully vaccinated according to the requirements of the Public Health Order – Vaccination.
  • If you feel sick, stay home if sick and get medical advice about whether you need to be COVID-tested.
  • Monitor students for symptoms. The school must arrange for them to go home if they have them.
  • If you have an underlying health condition and/or a medical exemption you will need to work with the school to mitigate risks to you in ways that take into account the level of COVID-19 exposure in the community.
  • You cannot work across different schools unless fully immunised and wearing a mask.

Hygiene measures

  • Basic hygiene measures apply (washing hands, good coughing/sneezing practices, avoiding touching your face). Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily. Use hand sanitiser at entrances to indoor spaces.
  • Masks are required on-site for teachers and for students above year 3. Schools should order these as per the instructions they will have been sent.
  • Shared supplies may be used if students and staff are undertaking regular hand washing and staying away if sick. Shared supplies and equipment should be cleaned frequently. Consider using designated bins for clean and used supplies.
  • The school must have contact tracing measures in place (QR code posters, attendance registers, visitors registers)
  • Rooms should have good ventilation.
  • Face covering is required on school transport for students aged 12 and above and encouraged for those in years 4 to 8.
  • Face covering is required on-site for teachers and for students above year 3.
  • Face coverings should be worn by all visitors and parents/ caregivers on school grounds.
  • Working across class groups should be minimised.
  • Physical distancing of 1m is encouraged when outside classrooms and when offsite students attend classes for learning.
  • Physical activity, singing, dancing, shouting and similar activities should be limited to the outdoors. Singers should be 2m apart.
  • PE classes and movement-based curriculum classes such as Dance, as well as break time activities, can continue
  • Playgrounds can be used with good hygiene practices and where possible rostered groups to minimise congestion.

Dealing with positive cases in the school (Green, Orange and Red)

The school:

  • will work with agencies to get advice on who should self-isolate and get tested.
  • may switch to offsite learning programmes while an evaluation is undertaken.
  • may close on advice from the MoH.

For more detailed information on processes for dealing with identified cases see the following:

 

Payments when you have COVID-related absences

  • If the school closes you move to online learning delivery and are paid as normal.
  • If you have some symptoms of COVID and are required to isolate on medical advice while waiting for test results, this should be leave with pay as this is directed leave.
  • If you have been in contact with a suspected case and are required to isolate on medical advice while waiting for test results this should be leave with pay as this is directed leave.
  • If it is confirmed that you have COVID you cannot return to school for the isolation period. This is treated as paid, disregarded sick leave under STCA 6.2.7 (a) (iii) and the ASTCA 5.1.6 (a) (iii).
  • If you are caring for a person who has COVID you are a close contact and will be required on medical advice to isolate even though you may not currently be sick. This should be leave with pay as this is directed leave.
  • If you are looking after someone who is medically vulnerable and has been required to isolate on medical advice but is not sick then lave for sickness in the home applies on production of a medical certificate. This is a charge to your sick leave, if you are running out of sick leave your field officer can assist with applying for anticipated sick leave.
  • If you are looking after someone who is not sick and who has not been required to isolate on medical advice then you will need to ask your employer for discretionary leave, which might be granted, either as paid or unpaid leave but they do not need to grant it.
  • If you elect to stay away from work but you do not have medical advice to support this and have not been directed to do so then you can seek paid or unpaid discretionary leave from the employer but they do not have to grant it.

Contact your PPTA Field Officer if you have issues with leave, or payment for leave, related to COVID-19. 

Managing workload in mixed mode teaching and from home 

All schools have been asked to prepare for changes in alert levels and to be ready to support distance education for students. Some teachers may be required to isolate and work from home. 

Remember you are not expected to be an expert at distance teaching. Use the skills that you already possess. 

You should not be expected to teach students face-to-face and teach online at the same time. This is poor practice and increases stress and workload for staff. 

If you have classes that are split between students onsite and students at home you are advised to teach them all as an online class. 

Your contact hours should stay within the requirements of your collective agreement. 

All collective agreement provisions and entitlements under industrial legislation still apply. This might look different from how it usually does, but if you feel you are not getting your entitlements, contact your field officer. 

Reasonable expectations – some examples of good practice 

As the needs of every school community are different it’s important that there are a range of ways to support teachers and learners when teaching and learning remotely. Here are some examples of practice that could work for you too: 

The use of Relief Teachers: 

-Teachers provide the content and Relief teacher leads a portion of the online lessons each week / day 

- Relief teacher is employed full time to a class to lighten workload in both content creation and delivery. 

- Relief teachers employed to run and mark assessments or assignments.   

Length of ‘class’ 

  • 30 minute question and answer sessions 
  • 15 minute check in sessions every other day 

Planning and Teaching 

  • Co -teaching in departments 
  • Planning in a team shared content 
  • Merge online ‘classes’ to avoid replication of content and work 
  • Focus on the core learnings, strengthen the basics.  

Time management 

  • Having clear times when teachers are available 
  • Adjusting the ‘timetable’ so teachers and students are not ‘online’ 5 hrs a day. 

Communicating with your students 

Set clear expectations of how and when you will be available to communicate with students. 

How: 

  • As much as possible, stick to the means of communication that you usually use, e.g. school email or Google Classroom. 
  • We strongly advise against giving out your personal cell phone number or using social media platforms that are not set up by your school. 

When: 

Make sure to have clear boundaries set around the amount of time you are interacting with your students. When you are available will vary depending on your personal circumstances, but some possible options include: 

  • Having "timetabled hours" for each class 
  • Trying to be available to answer your students questions anytime during normal school hours 
  • Telling your students to expect an answer within 24 hours 

Maintaining teacher presence when distance teaching 

If you have been predominantly a face-to-face teacher you will be used to connecting with students regularly in a multitude of ways: be that in the classroom - direct dialogue or eye contact or even just by physically being near them as they work.  

Just as with face-to-face teaching and learning, students learning remotely also like to know that you are there (even if they are not directly engaged with you). They also appreciate responses to their queries in a timely manner.  Some ways you could be present are: 

  • share a fun fact, motivating meme, subject-related puzzle or saying/proverb/whakatauki  
  • check-in with a short pre-recorded audio or video (maybe at the start of each week) just about how things are for you, keep it positive and not too detailed or personal 
  • share tips for staying well/organised – link them to your subject perhaps  

With all of these suggestions, don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything at once – you could try one new thing a week and use it across a number of classes as you get used to it. You might repeat those that seem to work for you as often as makes sense (there are no rules for this!). 

When work comes in sometimes a simple response might be all that is required with an indication of when you can get back to them. 

Types of lessons 

When planning your lessons where possible set tasks that can be completed to varying degrees of success with more complex and additional tasks for the most able pupils. Or set more open-ended, independent work, but structure and guidance will still be needed. Tasks that require little or no access to technology are preferable in order to cater for everyone. 

Feedback: Keeping the learning conversation going 

You probably already have a range of things you consider when giving feedback to your students on their work.  Supporting them to continue with what they are doing well and giving them some advice on what they could do next are key. 

Hattie and Timperley sum it by saying that the purpose of feedback is to “reduce the gap between where the student is and where he or she is meant to be”.  Some useful questions to ask/answer by the teacher and/or student are: 

  • Where am I going? (What are the goals?) 
  • How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?), and 
  • Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?) 

You might find it helpful to talk to your students about these three questions in relation to their learning. Perhaps provide them in a format that can be printed off so they can help provide a focus for the learning at all times. 

Teacher safety 

Make sure you are aware of your school’s online policies. If you disagree with any of them then by all means try and get them changed, but do not disregard them. 

Do not communicate with students using your personal email or personal social media account. 

Video conferences 

Live streaming poses risks to the teacher (and the lesson) and these must be weighed up before proceeding. One downside of live streaming is that it relies on students being available when you are. 

Going live has the potential for unforeseen circumstances to arise - from connectivity issues to someone in your household walking in on the lesson. 

There are also more sinister risks such as lessons being recorded, edited and shared. 

PPTA advice is to use school online platforms only, not personal ones. 

If live-streaming is part of this then it should be covered by your school's policies. If live-streaming (or video conferencing) is not specifically addressed in your school's policies then we advise against this form of online teaching. 

Here is advice that some of our members have shared: 

  • When engaging in video chat it is important that the purpose is clear. 
  • Some say limit video conferencing to a small group (6 or fewer), others stress live streaming should not be done with a student on their own. 
  • Make sure that only items that you would like to appear are visible when screen sharing. 
  • Shut down any group chat in which an unknown person joins, or if any form of cyber safety breach occurs. 
  • Email and confirm that students are ready for a group chat before inviting them. 
  • Make sure that you are in a neutral space when video conferencing. 
  • Be aware that students can record your screen without your knowledge. This should be covered in school policies/ student agreements. It is safest to assume that anything you do could end up in the public domain. 
  • Be the last person to leave a group chat/video, as it will continue without you when you leave. 

Finally, if you have any concerns about live steaming do not use it. There are other ways (such as emails) to facilitate student learning during the lockdown. 

Where can teachers go for assistance? 

Ministry-facilitated PLD has been refocused on helping teachers to adapt to online teaching. If a school has a current PLD allocation, it can repurpose the existing hours to focus on support for distance learning. Schools can also request new PLD to support distance learning. To register interest, schools can email pld.enquiries@education.govt.nz 

It is also worth checking out: 

Health and Safety Reps 

Workplaces are required to have Health and Safety Reps who are legally entitled to paid training and paid time for these roles. Health and Safety Reps represent school workers on health and safety matters, including COVID-related issues and work to ensure that schools are safe workplaces. If your school does not currently have a Health and Safety Rep, you can share any concerns with your branch chair. 
Learn more about Health and Safety Reps at Health and Safety | PPTA 

Emergency Payments for Day Relief Teachers

The Ministry of Education is ending the emergency payment scheme for day relief teachers who have been prevented from earning because of COVID-19.

Auckland

The 30 November payment for eligible day relief staff who relieve in secondary schools in Auckland was the final payment under this scheme.

For eligible day relievers working relieving in area and primary schools in Auckland, emergency payments will end on 20 December 2021.

Outside Auckland

The 30 November payment for eligible day relief staff who relieve in secondary schools outside Auckland was the final payment under this scheme.

Public Health Orders 

Section 9 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 authorises the responsible Minister to make a COVID-19 Order for mandatory testing and vaccination of employee groups. The Act requires a robust process to be followed including an analysis of whether the requirement is a justified limit on the rights and freedoms in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.  

The mandate does not require you to be vaccinated but puts a requirement on your employing board to ensure that anyone working on site while students are in attendance is be fully vaccinated. 

The process for making orders under this Act and the legality of the orders have been tested in several legal cases. Judgements have consistently found that all the requirements in the Act had been met and that there is a strong public health rationale for the order in relation to the mandated groups.  

GF v Minister of COVID-19 Response [2021] NZHC 2526 24 September 2021 

A ruling in November 2021 found that if a limit was reasonable, prescribed by law, and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society then it was consistent with the Bill of Rights and that the mandatory vaccination fell within the scope of the Bill of Rights.  

Four Midwives, NZDSOS and NZTSOS v Minister for COVID-19 Response [2021] NZHC 3064 [12 November 2021] 

The Public Health Order requiring vaccination to be onsite can be found here:  

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 (LI 2021/94) (as at 04 December 2021) – New Zealand Legislation 

 

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Last modified on Monday, 13 December 2021 11:20