COVID-19 Advice for Level 3

Operating at Level 3

Early Learning Services are open for children who need to attend
At Alert Level 3, most children and young people will continue to learn from home, however schools and early learning services are open for all children and young people whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. Under Alert Level 3 there is no limitation on specifically who can work and therefore will need to use early learning services, as there is under the Alert Level 4 businesses and services arrangements. 

Staff who are at a higher risk

Staff who are at a higher risk from severe illness because of COVID-19 can work onsite at Alert Level 3 if they are fully vaccinated. We have developed a checklist to support you to you in ascertaining if your kaiako have any underlying medical conditions that could place them at higher risk.  The checklist is available here. Underlying medical conditions that could place people at higher risk include:

  • serious respiratory disease, including chronic lung disease and severe asthma
  • serious heart conditions
  • immunocompromised conditions
  • severe obesity — a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • hypertension that is not well controlled
  • diabetes that is not well controlled
  • chronic kidney disease
  • liver disease.

Bubbles will need to be put in place for those attending on-site

For those who are on-site, bubbles of no more than 10 children will need to be formed and keep a 2-metre distance from other bubbles. Where possible, it is recommended that teachers stay with the same bubble of children.

Services will close for cleaning and contact tracing if there is a confirmed case who was infectious when at the service.
Your Director of Education will work closely with you and health authorities should this occur. Please contact your Ministry regional office if you hear of a confirmed case in your early learning community but haven’t been advised about it by health officials.

Testing remains a crucial component in preventing an outbreak.
If a child or staff member is sick, they should stay home. If they have cold or flu symptoms, they should call their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested. If recommended to get tested, they should do so.

Sick people must stay at home.
They should seek medical advice if they have COVID-like symptoms and get tested if advised to do so. If that person displays relevant symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate.

You must have a contact tracing system in place.
This includes displaying QR code posters at your entrances, attendance register and visitor register.

Fundamental public health measures continue to apply:

  • Adults should physically distance by 1 metre inside and 2 metres outside
  • Hand hygiene
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces

More information is available in the Health and safety in licensed early learning services and Kohanga reo for Covid19 - Alert Levels 1 -4 here.

 Masks at Level 3

Kaiako and tamariki are not required to wear masks in early learning services.

Parents are required to wear a masks when dropping off and picking up tamariki as well as when they come into the service to talk to kaiako or settle their child.

 Supporting staff at Alert Level 3

When planning and arranging staff you must make reasonable efforts to ensure that only those who are necessary to support the number of children that you have at your service, are on site. You should work with your staff on how you will manage children’s learning for those who are learning at home.

When planning for staffing, you should also consider staff who usually work at more than one service. During Alert Level 3 staff may only work in one service and preferably only one bubble. You could consider assigning all the hours they would normally be employed for, in that one bubble or a mix of onsite or remote delivery of learning.

Throughout Alert Level 3, staff continue to have access to their usual employment agreement entitlements, including the child contact/non-contact provisions of those agreements.

You must follow Ministry of Education and public health guidance to operate in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission and ensures a safe environment for your staff and children.

Where the usual work that a staff member performs is not available, consider providing them with alternate duties as you adjust to different alert levels. Consider paying day relief or casual staff who have been booked for work but are no longer required during the Alert Level 3 restrictions.

Reasons some staff may need to remain at home
Staff must stay at home if they:

  • are sick with COVID-19, or unwell generally.
  • need to self-isolate, as per Ministry of Health guidelines, due to close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • are caring for dependents who need to self-isolate, as per Ministry of Health guidelines.

Employees may choose to stay at home if they, or someone they live with, meets the definition of a vulnerable person, including those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and the elderly.

Where someone meets the definition of a vulnerable person you may agree they can work on site if they choose to, and you both agree they can do so safely.

Staff who are at-risk and are staying away from your centre might be prioritised to support learners from home. You may request a medical certificate for confirmation of vulnerability to assist you in providing appropriate health and safety measures for them.

You will need to initiate discussions with employees who may not be able to return to work, and ensure working from home or leave arrangements if required, are in place for these staff members during Alert Level 3.

You may have staff who cannot get to your service because they are unable to enter or exit the Alert Level 3 zone. Consider asking these staff to work from home wherever practicable.

You should talk to your staff who care for children who are younger than 14 years old. Staff may require flexibility of duties, or start and finish times, due to the staggered timing of school days and limitations of before and after school care. Their children should remain at home if they have a parent or caregiver available to look after them at home, and they have access to distance learning.


Risk Assessment

We have put together a risk assessment tool that you can use to ensure you have covered everything off for kaiako, tamariki and whānau while operating during Level 3.

Level 3 centre risk planning