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Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for NZEI Te Riu Roa members

[Last updated: 2 April 2020]

Please note, we can only give general advice online. If you need help, please contact our member support centre on nzei@nzei.org.nz or 0800 639 443. Please note that we are currently experiencing large call volumes.

Schools and early childhood centres are closed from Wednesday 25 March for at least four weeks.

The Government has said it will continue to fund education as normal through this period and people should continue to be paid.

For the latest Covid-19 alert level for your area, please check covid19.govt.nz

All advice on this page is based on current information from Government agencies. For the most up to date information about COVID-19 and its impacts on your work, please visit the Ministry of Education website directly here.

Information about the COVID-19 pandemic is changing and developing by the day. We will be doing our best to keep this page updated so you have the most current advice.  As the situation is changing rapidly, the Government is still developing its response – meaning that some details about how this will affect you are still to come.  We are actively seeking additional clarification from the Ministry of Education about these issues on your behalf. 

Now more than ever is a time to pull together and support one another. Successfully flattening the curve and reducing the risk to our most vulnerable requires all our effort! Some of this is basic – remembering to wash our hands thoroughly and regularly – and some of it can feel a bit more daunting, like self-isolation. Ultimately, we can get through this together – but we need to be careful, intentional, and remember to look after one another. 

Quick links:

Key information for the level 4 shutdown period

New school holiday dates

While schools are closed for four weeks, the Ministry of Education has brought forward the term break. This means 30 March – 14 April should be treated as school holidays.

NZEI Te Riu Roa events and hui

All NZEI Te Riu Roa events and hui during the lockdown period have been cancelled, postponed, or will take place remotely. If you’re uncertain about the status of the event you were intending to attend, please contact the organiser directly. 

We are actively reviewing all of our later upcoming events and hui in light of COVID-19 and will make decisions on possible cancellations or postponements based on the Government’s guidelines for gatherings of people. Where possiblewe will endeavour to give as much notice as possible if we need to cancel or postpone events. If an event is cancelled, we will do our best to contact those affected directly. Refunds will be offered for any paid events that are cancelled.  

Key contacts

  • For overall Covid-19 information visit covid19.govt.nz
  • For additional information about how COVID-19 will affect you and education services, please check the Ministry of Education’s advice in the first instance. We have summarised their advice on key issues above, but you may find answers to your more specific questions (such as impacts for international students, or planned overseas trips), and their advice may be more up to date than ours (though we will be doing our best to keep our information current).
  • For COVID-19 clinical advice and information contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453. This service is under immense pressure at present – please use it only if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you have recently travelled in an at-risk area, or you have reason to believe you have been in contact with someone else who has the virus.
  • If you need to contact your public health officer, here is a list of Public Health Unit Contacts via the Ministry of Health.
  • If you’re a principal or executive officer and have questions about how COVID-19 affects the running of your school or kura, contact your local Ministry of Education regional office.
  • If you need help with COVID-19-related employment issues, contact our Member Support Centre on nzei@nzei.org.nz 0800 639 443.

Mental health support

EAPs (Employee Assistance Programmes)

Employers often sign up to employee assistance programmes as part of meeting their health and safety in employment obligations.  EAP is confidential counselling and support, delivered via counsellors nationwide – sometimes in person, but also via phone or video chat. You should check to see if your employer is signed up to a provider.  The main provider used by schools is EAP Services Limited - www.eapservices.co.nz 0800 327 669.

Community based support (phone based)

  • Anxious/depressed: text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor 24/7
  • Depression Line: 0800 111 757
  • Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797
  • Family Violence info line: 0800 456 450
  • Health line: 0800 611 116
  • Lifeline Aotearoa nationwide: 0800 543 354
  • Warmline (Mental Health Peer Support): 0800 200 207
  • Victim Support: 0800 842 846
  • Outline: LGBTIQ- affirming support line and face to face counselling- 0800 688 5463
  • Suicide crisis helpline: 0508 828 865
  • Anxiety phone line: 0800 269 4389

Useful websites/ online support

COVID-19 Basics

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.

Covid-19 symptoms

I’m concerned I may have contracted the virus. What should I do?

If you have the symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please call Healthline's COVID-19 line, with translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages:

If you intend to visit your GP or after-hours medical centre, phone ahead to let them know.

More health advice and virus prevention information is available on the Ministry of Health website here: COVID-19 health advice for the public – Ministry of Health.

What should I do to minimise the risk?

Everyone, except for those working in essential services, are being asked to stay home at this time.

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
    • after caring for sick people.

You should take particular care if you are over 70-years-old or have underlying medical conditions, such as:

  • a compromised immune system
  • liver disease
  • cancer
  • kidney disease
  • heart disease
  • diabetes mellitus
  • respiratory conditions, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Go to the Ministry of Health website for more information about preventing the risk:

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

Update log

  • 2 April:
    • Updated guidance for ECE day relievers
  • 30 March:
    • Updated guidance ensuring everyone working in schools or kura (particularly support staff and relievers) will continue to be paid.
  • 27 March:
    • Updated guidance from the Ministry of Education around autopay
    • General updates for better readability
  • 25 March:
    • New guidance from the Ministry of Education about support staff and school relievers
    • New key information section for support staff, relievers and early childhood
  • 23 March:
    • Updates based on the Govt's decision to close all schools and centres from midnight on Wednesday 25 March.
  • 21 March:
    • Advice that those over 70 or with underlying medical conditions should stay at home
    • Information about a new COVID-19 alert level system
    • Links to the Ministry of Education's decision-making tool for when places of learning will be closed.
  • 19 March:
  • 17 March:
    • Sick leave guidance for support staff