COVID-19 information for parents and whānau

Wellington (including Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa to north of Ōtaki) is at Alert Level 2 from 6pm Wednesday 23 June 2021 until 11.59pm Sunday 27 June 2021.

The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1

All schools and services throughout New Zealand are open and all children should attend unless they are sick.

Early learning services, schools and kura are familiar with the alert level requirements and have responded well to the recent changes in alert levels. If you have concerns, please contact your early learning service or school as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

Here’s a reminder about the important things in each level.

For parents and whānau in Wellington: Alert Level 2

All schools and kura, kōhanga reo and early learning services are open:

  • They have appropriate precautions in place
  • Remind your child to give people ‘breathing space’, so they aren’t so close they can feel someone else’s breath
  • Emphasise good hygiene practices to your child – washing and drying hands their hands often, coughing or sneezing into their elbow, and cleaning surfaces regularly
  • School gatherings such as sporting events, school balls, field trips and school plays may be subject to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, check with your school before attending
  • If you or your child is unwell you must stay at home. This also applies if you are self-isolating (at the request of medical authorities) or are advised by the health authorities not to return to school until your COVID-19 test results come back.

For parents and whānau in the rest of New Zealand: Alert level 1

  • All children and young people must continue to attend their early learning service or school.
  • Good hygiene practice everywhere remains important. Remind your children the importance of washing and drying their hands often, coughing or sneezing into their elbow, and cleaning surfaces regularly.
  • If you or your child is sick, stay at home. If any of you have flu symptoms call your doctor or Healthline to check if you need to get tested.
  • Keep track of your whereabouts. If you have older children, encourage them to do the same thing. This will assist with contact tracing if required.
  • Remain vigilant and stay prepared should a new case of COVID-19 be detected within the community.

More information about Alert Level changes

Get the latest updates about Alert Levels, and other official information and advice, on the Unite Against COVID-19 website:

Unite Against COVID-19

The golden rules

  • Good hygiene practice everywhere is key – wash and dry your hands often, cough or sneeze into 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. 
  • 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.

Download the NZ COVID Tracer app – Ministry of Health

Face coverings

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

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

Children who are 12 years and above must wear face coverings on public transport (train, bus and ferry).

People with certain health or medical conditions don’t have to wear face coverings.

Face coverings – Unite Against COVID-19

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 meatworks, 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 pillowcase. 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.

Learning support

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

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 live-streamed 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
  • 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

Read the transcript: Moist Breath Zone (Shirley Serban) 

*Video courtesy of Shirley Serban

[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

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

Kia Manawaroa: Pānui for whānau Māori

Ministry for Pacific Peoples: COVID-19 advice in 9 Pacific languages

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