COVID-19 information for parents and whānau

New Zealand is at Alert Level 1. We all need to continue to be cautious and kind.

While there are no gathering restrictions at Alert Level 1, we should keep following the golden rules to avoid any community outbreaks or future lockdowns.

The golden rules

Returning to school

It is safe for all children to attend their early learning service or school. As children return from their break, we know many will be excited to see their friends and get back into a routine.

  • It’s safe for your child to attend because there are public health measures in place
  • Being in school keeps them engaged in learning
  • Their friends will provide emotional support
  • Being in school gives your child direct engagement with their teachers.

Your child’s wellbeing is our top priority. We know that your child needs to feel comfortable and safe for learning to happen.

Face coverings 

Children and young people don’t need to wear face coverings:

  • at early learning services
  • at school, or
  • on school transport.

Face coverings are not required on public transport at Alert Level 1, but people may continue to wear them in public places.

Transcript: How to make a face mask in under 10 seconds (Dr Michelle Dickinson) 

(Video courtesy of Dr Michelle Dickinson)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scientists are learning more and more about the virus.

And one of the areas that we now have much more information on is the effectiveness of face masks

How do we know this?

Actually because of hamsters. So while we have human studies showing how the virus seems to spread less in mask wearers in densely populated workplaces like meat works, more controlled studies have looked at hamsters.

No, they didn't make the hamster wear a tiny weeny mask but instead they placed the mask fabric on the side of their cages and found that it reduced airborne transmission of the virus by over 60 percent.

One of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads is through respiratory droplets. This is moisture that comes from your nose and your lungs. Even talking can produce thousands of potentially infected droplets that move through the air and can land on surfaces that other people might touch.

Here, take a look at some high speed footage of me sneezing.

[Sneezing]

Yuck!

Covering your mouth and nose with a mask is a really cheap and simple way to reduce the amount of droplets that you are expelling and also from inhaling other people's droplets that will reduce your risk of being infected and potentially infecting others.

While N95 respirators and surgical masks are the most effective, they're also in short supply and needed by healthcare workers who are at greater risk of being exposed to the virus.

While not as effective as the medical grade products, if you are in a pinch a simple face mask can be made up in a few seconds using things you already have around the house and they will provide you with some protection if you need to go out.

The best thing about this design is that you can easily tweak the size and it is simple enough that even your children can make their own.

So let's start with a handkerchief. A study published in the journal Science

Advances found that when making your own mask, cotton fabric is the best and protects you much more than fleecy materials.

If you don't have a handkerchief you can cut up an old cotton t-shirt or even just use a pillow case. You will also need two ear loops, I'm using hair ties but you can use elastic bands or even just knot some string or ribbon into loops.

So take the handkerchief and fold it from the top inwards and then from the bottom inward.

A study in the journal Thorax found that cloth masks should be at least two layers of fabric thick. I'm making mine three.

Next, loop your hair ties or elastic bands over the ends, fold the outer edges inwards. Pick up using the bands then loop over each ear, one at a time.

And there you go, a simple and comfortable and effective face mask to wear when you are going out in public in areas of COVID-19 community transmission.

Wellbeing tips

Exams

All exams including NCEA, Scholarship, Cambridge and International Baccalaureate exams will go ahead at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3. Your school will have health measures in place on exam day.

  • If your region is placed under Alert Level 4, exams will not go ahead as schools won’t be open.
  • If your school is connected to an outbreak or cluster and/or has been closed by the Medical Officer of Health, exams won’t be able to take place until public health authorities give approval.

Please talk to your school if you have questions.

Additional support for NCEA students

There is additional support for senior secondary students where COVID-19 re-emerged in the community.

Education.govt.nz - Additional support for NCEA students due to continuing COVID disruption

This additional support recognises that most students in Auckland have lost 13 days of classroom learning during August. However, there may be a small number of other circumstances where these could be appropriately applied.

The following applies to young people in Auckland in the first instance:

  • Fewer credits to achieve NCEA:
    • 66 credits for those working towards NCEA Level 1
    • 48 credits for those working towards NCEA Levels 2 or 3
  • 2 fewer credits to achieve NCEA with Merit or Excellence
  • Extra places in programmes led by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) from Term 4. These places will be available for young people who have stopped attending school during the pandemic or need extra support to achieve their NCEA goals this year.
  • Extra places will also be available in Te Kura’s summer school for young people who need up to 10 additional credits to attain an NCEA or University Entrance award.

This builds on the changes to NCEA and University Entrance for the 2020 school year that were announced earlier in the year:

Learning support

If you have questions about learning support for your child, please call 0800 622 222.

Behaviour support specialists

If you usually receive disability support services at your early learning service or school, you can access behaviour support specialists through Explore. They can:

  • provide immediate wellbeing and support
  • suggest ways to respond to any challenging behaviours
  • discuss risks and safety planning
  • provide other tools and resources. 

You, your whānau or support worker can call 0800 000 421 from 9am to 5pm to access their services. You do not need a referral from your Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) agency to access these services, but you will be asked to identify your NASC agency. 

You can find more information about this service at the Ministry of Health website. 

Behaviour support services

Children with disabilities

Awhi@home is a parent-led Facebook page for parents with disabled children. It has tools, resources and videos to help support you.

Go to Awhi@home on Facebook

Talanoa Ako – support for Pacific parents

Talanoa Ako is a Pacific parent education programme that aims to equip and empower parents, families and communities with skills, knowledge and confidence to champion their children’s education.

  • Talanoa Ako Radio sessions that previously aired and livestreamed from April to June on 531pi and PMN is now available in English and 7 Pacific Languages (Cook Island, Niue, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu and Tokelau) can now be viewed on our Pacific Communities Learning From home page Pacific Communities Learning From home page
  • Talanoa Ako digital app is an additional tool to refresh learning from the radio programme and continue to build on it. This app is free to download for Apple and Android phones and tablets:

Download the Talanoa Ako app – App Store

Download the Talanoa Ako app – Google Play Store

Here are tips to support your children’s learning and wellbeing, available in 10 Pacific languages: 

Learning tips in 10 Pacific languages

Wellbeing tips in 10 Pacific languages 

Wellbeing tips

It can be scary hearing about COVID-19 and what’s happening around the world. Your children will continue to look to you for guidance and support. We have developed three age-appropriate tip sheets to help you talk with your children and work through common challenges and behaviours that might have changed during COVID-19.

The links below also contain great ideas and resources to help families and whānau look after their wellbeing.

The golden rules

  • Good hygiene practice everywhere is key – wash and dry your hands often, cough or sneeze in to your elbow and clean surfaces regularly.
  • Maintain appropriate physical distance where possible.
  • Record your whereabouts to help with contact tracing if needed. You can use the COVID tracer app if you can, or make a personal note. 

Ministry of Health – Download the COVID tracer app

  • Stay home if you’re sick. If you have cold or flu like symptoms call your doctor or the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453 and check if you need to be tested. Testing is free.

Read the transcript: Moist Breath Zone (Shirley Serban) 

*Video courtesy of Shirley Serban - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZvtoVrykb8

[Song begins]

 

We’re back at school, it’s really cool
To all be here together

We made it through and I missed you

The country’s getting better

But sorry, no high five or hug

Let’s wait a little longer

Till we can beat that Covid bug

Being careful makes us stronger

 

I’m glad to see you but please leave me alone

If you need to cough, use your elbow

When you’re feeling sick – you gotta stay at home

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

 

I’ll share my news, but my food’s for me alone

If I smell your breath, I will go sit on my own

Always wash your hands – make them soapy, full of foam

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

 

If I can smell the tuna bake

You had for tea last night

Then I’m way too close to your face

I’ll move to make it right

 

I like to hear you sing a song

But I don’t like your spit

So be a good sport – keep us strong

By moving back a bit!

 

I’m glad to see you but please leave me alone

If you need to cough, use your elbow

When you’re feeling sick – you gotta stay at home

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

 

I’ll share my news, but my food’s for me alone

If I smell your breath, I will go sit on my own

Always wash your hands – make them soapy, full of foam

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

 

I like to tackle and play rough

Outside when it’s break time

But now that’s not quite safe enough

Don’t touch and we’ll be fine

 

I know you love my company

But I need my own space

You’re not my shadow, stuck to me

Please get out of my face!

 

I’m glad to see you but please leave me alone

If you need to cough, use your elbow

When you’re feeling sick – you gotta stay at home

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

 

I’ll share my news, but my food’s for me alone

If I smell your breath, I will go sit on my own

Always wash your hands – make them soapy, full of foam

And stay out of my moist breath zone!

Just stay out of my moist breath zone!

[Song ends]

[Text appears on video]

“Covid’s not measles or chickenpox, it doesn’t hand in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You don’t have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their ‘moist breath’ zone.” – Dr Gary Payinda, NZ Herald 1 May 2020

Read the transcript: How to wash your hands NHS song (National Health Service)

*Video courtesy of UK NHS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9VjeIWLnEg

This video helps make the proper hand-washing technique more memorable for little hands.

So wet those hands and apply some soap!

It’s time for my big song!

[Singing begins]

Rub the palms – one two

Rub the knuckles – one two

Rub the insides of your fingers and the back of them too

Rub the thumbs – one two

And the nails – one two

Now time to rinse

Happy clean hands for you!

[Singing ends] 

If your child is in tertiary education

More information and advice for tertiary students is available on the Ministry of Education website:

Advice for tertiary students – Ministry of Education 

More information

Your school, kura or early learning will be your first point of call if you have questions or concerns.

Our regional staff continue to support individual schools and centres. This page, the Government COVID-19 website and our education website are constantly updated with the latest information, please make sure to check them:

Government COVID-19 website

Ministry of Education COVID-19 page

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