information and Updates

A diagram has been developed by Dr Siouxsie Wiles to assist you when considering symptoms. 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

25 May 2020

As you know, there are a number of families who remain anxious about their children returning to school and we’ve been looking at how we can provide greater reassurance for them that schools are safe places to be. We’ve spoken with the All of Government Covid team and they agree that one way to help is to present communities with the data on Covid-19 cases in New Zealand, which tell a really good story.

There are two graphs on the Ministry of Health website that are updated daily.

New Zealand is experiencing very low numbers of new cases as can be seen in the above chart.

In terms of demographics, this chart shows that children and young people continue to account for only a small proportion of cases in New Zealand.

    • Our schools are safe. Even though there is such a low risk of the virus getting in the school gates to start with, we will be keeping up our hygiene practices and other public health measures as an extra precaution for as long as we’re at Alert Level 2

    • The return to school has gone really smoothly and it has been brilliant to see how excited the children have been to get back to their learning and social routines

    • We know some of our families are still feeling a bit anxious about sending their children back to school, which is understandable given everything we have been through these past 2 months

    • It’s really important children do return to school, not just for their education but also their health and wellbeing

    • Instances of Covid-19 in New Zealand are very low

    • We’re aware of concerns out there that people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus. The Ministry of Health has advised us that there is no instance in New Zealand of someone spreading the virus without ever having symptoms

23 March update: COVID-19

18 March update: COVID-19

You will be aware the Ministry of Health’s Director-General has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a Dunedin school following a student testing positive for coronavirus.

On advice from the Southern District Health Board the school will now remain closed until Tuesday (Monday being Otago Anniversary Day). Close contacts have been identified and are being tested for the virus. The letter to the community from SDHB provides further information

The Ministries of Education and Health are working closely with Public Health services in Dunedin and the school leadership to help minimise disruption, progress contact tracing and reduce the possibility of spread.

Reminder – schools remain open

At this stage, we are not expecting widespread school closures. We are planning for temporary closures, like what is happening at Logan Park School but as the World Health Organisation has confirmed, the risk to children remains low and parents should continue to send their kids to schools and early learning centres.

Consequently any decisions about school closures will be made on a case by case basis. In the meantime, unless students are unwell themselves, then parents should keep sending them to schools and early learning centres as these environments continue to be safe and the best place for them to continue their learning.

Talking to children and young people about COVID-19

Given the rise in the number of reported cases, there may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. As a trusted adult, you can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured.

A useful resource for parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers talking about the virus with children and young people can be found here

This can also be downloaded as an information sheet.

Up-to-date information and advice

A reminder that information and advice for students, whānau and the education sector is available here

While the website is being regularly updated with education-related content, the Ministry of Health is the Government agency leading the response to COVID-19

The Secretary for Education joined the Director-General of Health for the Ministry of Health’s COVID 19 update today. You can view that, and all Ministry of Health updates here.

12 March Update: Secretary for Education

Letter from Secretary for Education - Ioana Holsted

Kia ora

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. As noted by the Minister of Health, this doesn’t change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

We have 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home. Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. While we expect that more cases will arise, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. We all have a role to play in this.

For our school, our pandemic plan is also ready to be implemented if needed. In the mean time we will continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.

With that, there is a good video clip from Nanogirl that will help your children to better understand the virus - YouTube clip - Nanogirl

You may have also seen the Prime Minister sat down with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard, to talk about coronavirus:

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. I will be encouraging my staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same with your children. Colds and flus are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practicing good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.

Ngā mihi

Secretary for Education - Ioana Holsted

Novel coronavirus: Information for caregivers and whānau of learners

Information about Novel coronavirus for caregivers and whānau of learners

As you will have seen in the media the situation is rapidly evolving internationally concerning the coronavirus.

This is a new virus and its specific nature is currently unclear, however it appears that you can have the virus at an early stage and not be showing any symptoms. This incubation period is currently considered to be up to 14 days.

Your children and young people are currently returning to classrooms or early learning services. The health of your child is a priority for us all. We encourage you to err on the side of caution and here are some steps you can take.

  • If your child is unwell they should not be at their early learning service or school. Please contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or your GP for medical advice. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages and they do have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

  • For child who may be at high risk of exposure because they have travelled recently to China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, I encourage you to consider having your child delay the start of their school year for 14 days or delay attending their early learning service and voluntarily stay away.

  • If your child attends school or an early learning institution while showing symptoms then they may be asked to return home by the Principal of a state school, an early learning service provider or home-based educator.

  • Keep an eye on our website and the Ministry of Health website for updates:

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – Ministry of Education

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) guidance – Ministry of Health

Iona Holsted - Secretary for Education

Other useful information

In terms of keeping yourself and family well, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • Wash hands frequently, especially after contact with ill people or their environment

  • Avoid close contact with sick farm animals or wild animals

  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette: maintain distance, cover mouth, cover coughs or sneezes with disposable cloths or clothing.

District Health Boards

You can also contact your local District Health Board if you require further information:

Public Health Unit contacts