COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Information for tertiary institutions and tertiary students, including international students

Information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) for tertiary institutions and tertiary students, including international students.

Children and young people are currently returning to classrooms, and the health of students and staff is a priority for all. We encourage you to err on the side of caution. Here are some steps you can take:

March Roll Return for domestic students

Domestic students who have delayed starting at your school due to risk of exposure to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) can still be included in the March Roll Return student numbers, provided the school has enrolment information (paper-based or electronic) confirming the student’s enrolment prior to the March Roll Count date.

You should enrol these students in your SMS/Enrol and give them a First Attendance date corresponding to the date they would have started.

For attendance purposes ensure they are marked as a justified absence (Code J = Not in Class – Justified absence).

Schools not using an SMS should complete the excel template provided on the Education Counts website and send to the Ministry via the secure School Data Portal, please read the instructions tab for more information on how to use this form.

Education Counts website (external link)

Email any questions or comments about the roll return process to

Distance learning options

We know you will want to keep connected with your students who are overseas, including providing them with distance learning opportunities.

For schools who do have domestic students currently unable to return to New Zealand, a new Te Kura gateway - Emergency: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) - will be available from Monday 17 February. This will allow domestic students to access government-funded dual tuition at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu. If you wish to seek Te Kura’s help to deliver education to international students this is possible through Te Kura’s fee-paying gateway.

If you are interested in using Te Kura to support your students’ learning, please contact them so they can talk you through the options that will best meet the needs of your students.

They can be contacted by phone - 0800 65 99 88 or email

Information for staffing provisions

During any period where a school is closed or staff are required to remain at home it is expected that schools will continue to pay staff for the days/hours they would have normally worked.

More information about staffing provisions

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and wellbeing

A number of your community may be feeling worried about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

Advice on how you can support their wellbeing here:

More about Novel COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and wellbeing

Advice to an unwell student or staff member

Anyone who is unwell should not be at school. If you have a particular concern about any student or staff member, please urge parents or the staff member to contact Healthline at 0800 358 5453 (dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) or contact their doctor for medical advice.

Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.

The incubation period is currently considered to be up to 14 days. 

Authority to prevent a student’s attendance

If a student still attends school while showing symptoms the Principal of a state school can preclude them if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease (Section 19 Education Act).

The student has to stay away for the infectious period of the specific disease. For private schools, Section 19 of the Education Act does not apply.  Principals can request that a student with an infectious disease or is suspected of having an infectious disease, does not attend.

Authority to request a staff member not to attend

You can request that a staff member with an infectious disease or is suspected of having an infectious disease, does not attend.

Length of stay at home period

For any staff member or student who may be at high risk of exposure because they have recently been to China or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with the virus, we encourage you to ask that the staff member or parent/caregiver of the student delay the start of their school year for 14 days and stay home.

Any student absence for these reasons would be considered justified for attendance purposes (code J = Not in class - Justified absence – reason for absence within the school policy.)

Supporting students’ learning for their 14-day stay away time 

  • Students (or their parents/caregivers) who are staying at home to avoid the risk of spreading the virus, can contact their school - or teacher if they know who it is - and ask that they provide them with some work that’s related to what is being covered in the curriculum in the early weeks. 
  • This might include some maths work sheets, or home learning programmes such as Mathletics, or topic/s of inquiry that the class, or school, is focusing on.
  • Students can be doing some of their own research into these learning areas, so that by the time they return to school, they are ready and able to contribute to class discussions.    
  • Because the purpose of the 14-day incubation period is to try to avoid contact with other people, and possible spread of the virus, it is not recommended that students visit libraries, or undertake other activities that might involve mixing with the public.  

For parents of students at home

Literacy and numeracy:

  • Depending on their age, students can be encouraged to read, or be read to. They can also help, by reading to their younger siblings, if they’re also home. 
  • Keeping a journal or scrapbook during the time period is a way for them to collect and create. These could incorporate drawings, photos, plans and stories of things they’ve done, all of which will help their literacy skills.
  • Helping out with cooking and baking makes use of their maths skills and shows them how maths is all around them. Helping with housework also teaches your child lots of important skills about being organised, being part of the family, co-operating and contributing.

Key competencies:

As well as literacy and numeracy, The New Zealand Curriculum includes some important key competencies to prepare young people for life and work, and so that they can adapt and function well in the world.

These include ‘thinking’, ‘managing self’, ‘relating to others’ and ‘participating and contributing’.

The 14-day at-home period is a good opportunity to do things together that use one or more key competencies.

You could: 

  • Plan a meal together (managing self)
  • Get some discussions going, for example, talk to your child about how (critical) thinking is important to make sense of everything they do at school and at home. Find some news items or opinion pieces, and discuss whether you each agree with what’s been said. Why? Why not?
  • Or talk about different ways of “being” in the world. Compare the different cultures in your life, so you can talk about how things are in different contexts, and why (relating to others).

Advice to parents

If you haven’t already done so you need to contact your parent communities to share this and any relevant information. 

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

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) – Ministry of Health (external link)

Please also share the information sheet for parents below which has been translated into simplified Chinese with your networks:

致家长和照管人的重要信息 - COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Information for caregivers and whānau of learners (translated into simplified Chinese) [PDF, 272 KB]

Schools considering or planning overseas trips

If your school is planning an overseas trip, check the SafeTravel website for up-to-date advice. SafeTravel reminds travellers to purchase travel insurance (especially in case of medical emergency), and lists the contact details of embassies/consulate-generals.

SafeTravel website (external link)

Other countries have travel restrictions in place and restrictions may apply to New Zealanders. SafeTravel recommends that travellers consult with the official website of the country or territory they wish to enter, or with the country’s or territory’s representative in their place of departure, before travelling.

Border restrictions for foreign nationals – International Air Transport Association (external link)

Travel to and from China

As of 2 February 2020, all travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China should stay away from school for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.

People who departed from mainland China before midnight 2 February are not required to stay away unless they have been in Wuhan City or Hubei Province in the last 14 days. 

If someone has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) case they should stay home for 14 days. If you develop symptoms including fever, coughing and difficulty breathing you should ring Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

Please see the Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) SafeTravel website for the latest advice on travel:

SafeTravel – Ministry Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) (external link)

More advice for students or staff returning from China is available on the Ministry of Health website:

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health (external link)

Pandemic planning

If you would like to review your pandemic plan, the Ministry of Education guidance will assist you through that process:

Review your pandemic plan – Ministry of Education (external link)

Emergency Management planning (includes advice for pandemics)

The Emergency Management Plan template also includes provision for pandemics:

Emergency management plan template – Ministry of Education (external link)

New information will be made available on our website and through the Ministry Bulletin for School Leaders.

Notifiable diseases

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is now classified as a notifiable disease (as at 30 January 2020).

This means for education providers there is no specific change of advice needed for schools and early learning services in regard to your own powers when responding to the risk of a communicable disease.

Principals at state schools can already send a student home if they believe on reasonable grounds they may have a communicable disease (section 19, Education Act).

Education providers should continue to rely on support from Health, when a case or cases of a communicable disease arise in their school/service/institution and in their wider community.

As it is now a notifiable disease, this means health practitioners and laboratories are required to notify Medical Officers of Health of cases.

Medical Officers of Health then have powers to manage the disease on a case-by-case basis, including the ability to:

  • formally initiate contact tracing of contacts of cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
  • issue mandatory directions such as restricting movement and travel
  • apply for court orders such as for treatment
  • issue administrative 72-hour detention orders (urgent public health orders).

Public health units/district health boards

If you need to contact your public health officer: 

Public Health Unit Contacts – Ministry of Health (external link)

Key contacts


Healthline has set up a dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus):

The Healthline existing number 0800 611 116 is still the main number to call for non-COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) health concerns.

Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages including Mandarin and Cantonese.

Public health units/district health boards

If you need to contact your public health officer: 

Public Health Unit Contacts – Ministry of Health (external link)

New Zealand Immigration

Keep updated on travel restriuctions through the New Zealand Immigration website:

Immigration New Zealand COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) update (external link)

New Zealand Human Rights Commission

If you know someone who has experienced racial discrimination related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), the Human Rights Commission offers a free and confidential enquires and complaints service which you can use:

Pastoral care for students

If you have specific questions about pastoral care for domestic or international students, please call NZQA’s Code team on 0800 697 296.

All-of-Government COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) website

Cross-agency information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) including health advice and travel restrictions.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) – New Zealand Government website (external link)

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