Information on vaccinations and study continuity

Information on vaccinations and study continuity

Vaccination requirements within the tertiary sector

Government vaccination requirements for tertiary education have ended

From 11.59pm on Monday 4 April 2022, My Vaccine Pass (MVP) requirements are removed from the COVID-19 Protection Framework (the Framework). With the removal of MVPs from the Framework, the corresponding vaccine requirements for workers at businesses that are using MVPs are also removed.

This means that from 11:59pm Monday 4 April 2022, there is no longer a government vaccination requirement for staff, students, or visitors to go onsite at a tertiary education premises.

We are now overall a highly vaccinated country. Vaccine requirements like MVPs and mandates played an important role in getting us there. They have done the job they were put in place for.

Tertiary providers may choose to continue to require some staff to be vaccinated

The removal of MVPs from the Framework from 11.59pm on Monday 4 April 2022 means that there is no longer a government requirement for staff to be vaccinated to go onsite at a tertiary education premises at Red.

Tertiary providers may still be able to maintain vaccination requirements for staff where these requirements continue to be supported by an updated workplace health and safety risk assessment, but the reason will need to be specific to their role and set of circumstances.

The public health justification for requiring vaccination is when the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 at work is higher than it is in the community. This is the basis on which some Government vaccination mandates have been retained. Tertiary providers may also consider other risk factors that are relevant and justifiable in respect of their workplace.

Outside of those sectors which continue to be covered by government vaccine mandates (such as health), WorkSafe considers that few workplaces will be able to justify an employer vaccination requirement for health and safety or public health reasons. For those who can, this would likely be only for specific roles.

It is important that providers work with their staff, students and representative organisations when identifying workplace health and safety risks and how these will be managed. The tertiary community is likely to want to understand if vaccinations are required and, if so, why this is the case.

If providers plan to continue requiring staff to be vaccinated, they need to be able to justify this and continue to meet their normal responsibilities. These responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • their human rights obligations
  • workplace health and safety requirements
  • expectations for learner wellbeing and safety systems
  • contractual relationships with students
  • student enrolment entitlements
  • the tertiary and international code of practice
  • equity considerations.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and WorkSafe have updated their guidance to reflect the removal of government vaccination mandates and updated public health guidance on vaccinations.

This updated guidance can be found here:

COVID-19 controls at work - employer vaccination requirements and other measures — WorkSafe

Vaccines and the workplace  — Employment New Zealand

Tertiary providers may choose to require some students or visitors to be vaccinated to come onsite

Most businesses (including tertiary providers) are able to require evidence of vaccination (such as asking to see a person’s My Vaccine Pass – MVP) as a condition of entry, so long as this does not breach any:

  • contractual restrictions (e.g. contractual relationships with students)
  • law, such as the COVID-19 Protection Framework (which prohibits certain places requiring MVPs, like supermarkets or pharmacies) or the Human Rights Act. 

If providers had previously based access conditions on a health and safety risk assessment, they should review those conditions to reflect updated public health advice. They should be able to justify any continuance with their normal responsibilities. These responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • their human rights obligations
  • workplace health and safety requirements
  • expectations for learner wellbeing and safety systems
  • contractual relationships with students
  • student enrolment entitlements
  • the tertiary and international code of practice
  • equity considerations.

It is important that providers work with their staff, students and representative organisations when identifying health and safety risks and how these will be managed. The tertiary community is likely to want to understand if providing evidence of vaccination is required as a condition of entry and, if so, why this is the case.

The MVP infrastructure will remain in place should businesses or tertiary providers choose to use it.

Further information can be found here:

Requiring My Vaccine Passes for entry — business.govt.nz

Vaccination requirements may apply to some tertiary students and secondary-tertiary students

Workers in the following sectors are still covered by a Government workforce vaccination mandate:

  • health and disability sector workers
  • prison staff
  • border and MIQ workers.

The inclusions of these workforces in the Vaccination Order will be reviewed again by 27 June 2022 and 26 September 2022.

Furthermore, outside of the government vaccination mandates, businesses can assess whether specific work in their workplace requires vaccination if a risk assessment identifies this is necessary for work health and safety purposes.

Tertiary students (including apprentices or trainees) who are in a workplace may be subject to vaccination requirements:

  • set out in the Vaccinations Order that apply to specified workforces (such as the health and disabilities workforce), or
  • put in place by the businesses or tertiary education provider itself based on a workplace health and safety risk assessment or as a condition of entry.

Secondary school students are generally exempt from My Vaccine Pass requirements when accessing their secondary learning in tertiary settings. However, where a secondary student undertakes workplace-based learning as part of their course at the tertiary provider, if workforce vaccination requirements apply for that workforce, then these vaccination requirements take precedence. This includes vaccination mandates imposed by government (e.g., for healthcare workers) and by a tertiary provider or business themselves (based on a workplace health and safety risk assessment). This applies both where the workplace-based element occurs onsite at a tertiary provider or at a business (not onsite at a tertiary provider). In these instances, the secondary student must be vaccinated to participate in that specific programme (or part of the programme that is work-based).

Students should be made aware of the different requirements operating across delivery sites.

More information on the current Vaccinations Order can be found on the Unite against COVID-19 website: Mandatory vaccinations for workers | Unite against COVID-19 — covid19.govt.nz

Vaccination requirements for tertiary student accommodation

There is no Government requirement that residents or staff in tertiary student accommodation need to be vaccinated.

If tertiary student accommodation providers plan to continue requiring staff to be vaccinated, they need to be able to justify this and continue to meet their normal responsibilities.

Providers should undertake a thorough risk assessment of their accommodation and develop clear systems and practices for staff and resident wellbeing and safety at each setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework. In doing so, it is important that providers work with their staff and student communities.

Providers must also comply with the requirements in the tertiary and international Code of Practice.

Tertiary and international code — nzqa.govt.nz

Other onsite businesses may have different vaccine requirements

Different vaccination requirements may apply to different businesses and services operating onsite at a tertiary premises.

Some businesses may still be covered by a government workforce vaccination mandate which requires staff to be vaccinated, such as the health and disability sector. Furthermore, other onsite businesses may choose to implement their own vaccine requirements based on a workplace health and safety risk assessment.

It will continue to be prohibited to deny access based on vaccination status to certain basic needs services, such as health and disability services, supermarkets or dairies, and pharmacies.  

Providers must not impose vaccine requirements in some situations

If tertiary providers choose to apply their own vaccination requirements, following a workplace health and safety risk assessment, these must not be applied to:

  • basic needs services where access cannot be denied based on vaccination status (e.g. many health and disability services, licensed early childhood services and registered schools, dairies, pharmacies, supermarkets), and
  • secondary students accessing a tertiary education premises as part of their secondary-tertiary or school learning programme, unless this involves workplace-based learning at a workplace that is subject to a workforce vaccination requirement, either imposed by government or by the tertiary provider or business themselves.

Tertiary providers with basic needs services onsite must allow people without a My Vaccine Pass to enter to access those services, regardless of tertiary education providers’ internal vaccination policies.

This may involve requiring people to enter basic needs services through identified access ways but should not involve making people without a My Vaccine Pass subject to tighter restrictions within the basic needs service.

You can find information about access to basic needs on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Access to basic needs at Red | Unite against COVID-19 — covid19.govt.nz

Vaccination mandates for specified workforces may apply on tertiary education premises

Workers in the following sectors are still covered by a Government workforce vaccination mandate:

  • health and disability sector workers
  • prison staff
  • border and MIQ workers.

The inclusions of these workforces in the Vaccination Order will be reviewed again by 27 June 2022 and 26 September 2022.

Where a tertiary provider has staff or students working and learning in a role that are still covered by the Vaccinations Order – for example, students training in an onsite healthcare facility – are vaccinated in compliance with the Order.

More information on the current Vaccinations Order can be found on the Ministry of Health website: COVID-19: Mandatory vaccinations | Ministry of Health NZ.

Vaccination requirements for health services onsite at a tertiary provider

Government workforce vaccination mandates continue to apply to health and disability sector workers (including aged care workers). This will be reviewed by 27 June 2022 and 26 September 2022.

If tertiary education providers are providing a health service as defined in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021, then tertiary sector rules do not apply to those services, and in instead, health service rules apply. This includes some health teaching (e.g. workplace based assessments and applied learning) and research that involves the provision of health services to patients or research participants.

‘Health service’ is defined in clause 5 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 — legislation.govt.nz

Vaccination-related requirements for health services depend on whether those services are partially or wholly funded by the Ministry of Health, Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, Ministry for Social Development, Department of Corrections, a district health board, Veterans Affairs New Zealand or the Accident Compensation Corporation:

  • Health services on tertiary education premises that receive funding from the specified agencies are prohibited from requiring My Vaccine Passes from patients or research participants.
  • Health services on tertiary education premises that do not receive funding from the specified agencies may choose whether to require My Vaccine Passes from patients or research participants receiving health services.

The Ministry of Health has developed a flow chart for health services that providers can use to assess the vaccination-related requirements applying to health services provided on their premises.

COVID-19 Protection Framework Guidance for Health Services [PDF, 110 KB] — health.govt.nz

Advice for staff who are concerned about working with unvaccinated people

Generally, work will not be unsafe solely because it is done around unvaccinated people. Staff should try to resolve their concerns with their employer or Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) in the first instance. If they and their employer/PCBU have made reasonable efforts, but still have not been able to come to a resolution, they can contact WorkSafe for assistance.

Resolving workplace health and safety issues — worksafe.govt.nz

Vaccine requirements for non-New Zealand citizens coming to New Zealand (including international students or those on work visas)

Anyone entering New Zealand (17 years and over), who is not a New Zealand citizen, must have had a full course of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by at least one country's government health or approval authority. The last dose will need to be at least 14 days prior to arrival in New Zealand. The list of COVID-19 vaccines that are accepted at the border for entry into New Zealand can be found through the Unite against COVID-19 website. 

My Vaccine Pass: Approved vaccines — covid19.govt.nz

How providers should verify vaccination status and protect this information

Verifying staff and students’ vaccination status

Providers may choose to continue their own vaccine policies or restrictions, but they need to ensure these are consistent with an updated workplace health and safety risk assessment and are aligned with current public health guidance.

If they continue with some restrictions, providers may ask staff, students, and visitors whether they have been vaccinated and to display their My Vaccine Pass, or other suitable evidence, so long as the provider considers there is a valid health and safety or public health purpose to obtain this information.

Individuals do not have to disclose their vaccination status (unless they are still covered by a government workforce vaccination mandate). If an individual chooses not to disclose their vaccination status, tertiary education providers may assume that they are unvaccinated, but should inform the staff or student of this assumption (and its implications).

If providers choose to use the MVP for evidence of vaccination, then they can:

  • integrate vaccination verification processes into their staff and student software systems using the My Vaccine Pass technical specifications. This would allow students to upload their My Vaccine Pass QR codes for digital verification. This can be validated by name or date-of-birth matching
  • use the Ministry of Health’s NZ Pass Verifier App to scan staff and students’ My Vaccine Passes in-person. The app is available now. You can find more information on NZ Pass Verifier — health.govt.nz.

To facilitate digital verification, the Ministry of Health has made the technical specification and other documentation on its GitHub repository to facilitate this.  

Ministry of Health GitHub repository

A demonstration of a similar use case is available from MATTR NZ Domestic Vaccine Pass: Event Ticketing Demo | MATTR – YouTube

When asking staff or students for evidence of vaccination, it is important that providers explain why the information is being collected, that the information will only be used to comply with their workplace health and safety policies, and what the consequences are if they do not provide the information – in line with the Privacy Act 2020 and relevant legislation and Orders relating to the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Individuals who are asked to provide evidence of vaccination must be assured that the organisation will keep that information secure, and only use it for the purpose of ascertaining whether the individual is vaccinated. 

Advice on sharing staff or student vaccination information with third parties

Providers have obligations under the Privacy Act 2020 and the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 in relation to how they hold, use and disclose individuals’ vaccination information.

Under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act, vaccination information may only be held, stored, used or disclosed for the following permitted purposes:

(a) ascertaining whether the individual is vaccinated or has been issued with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate; or

(b) demonstrating or ascertaining compliance with the Act or a COVID-19 order; or

(c) enforcing the Act or a COVID-19 order; or

(d) the Health Act 1956.

If providers are asked by a third party to share an individual’s vaccination information for one of the permitted purposes above – for example, by a health provider to allow a student to undertake practicum – they should seek the individual’s consent to do so when reasonable and practical to do so.

Repurposing or reusing vaccination information for other purposes is not permitted.

Storing staff and student vaccination information

Tertiary education providers are prohibited from storing My Vaccine Passes. However, vaccination verification information (i.e. whether vaccination has been verified, or the expiry date of the My Vaccine Pass) may be stored as part of students’ records, consistent with Privacy Act 2020 obligations around collection, storage, and use.

Supporting continuity of study

Providers’ responsibilities for continuing the deliver programmes remotely

Where possible, tertiary education providers are encouraged to make learning options available for those who are unable (e.g. self-isolating) or unwilling (e.g. due to health concerns) to attend classes being held onsite.

Providers’ responsibilities regarding unvaccinated students seeking to enrol in a course or programme where a vaccination requirement currently applies

Where vaccination requirements currently apply to a learner (for example, a course that involves a workplace-based training element, such as in a hospital), tertiary education providers are expected to explicitly advise the learner of this and about the impact that not being vaccinated may have on their ability to complete the qualification. This includes both vaccination requirements imposed by government or by an individual business (e.g. in line with a workplace health and safety risk assessment). This is to ensure that the learner can make a fully informed decision.

If a tertiary education provider knows that a learner may be unable to complete a qualification under the current restrictions due to their vaccination stance, they should advise the learner to consider withdrawing before the withdrawal deadline.

If the learner decides to still enrol in the qualification after having all the information provided to them about current vaccination requirements, then the provider would not be breaching any funding rules/conditions by allowing the enrolment.

Support for students that are unable to attend onsite tertiary education due to the impact of COVID-19

Where possible, tertiary education providers are encouraged to make learning options available for those who are unable to attend classes. This could be because a student is self-isolating or because they have underlying health issues that put them at higher risk and they do not feel comfortable coming onsite. However, in some cases this may not be possible, and this may disrupt their study. We encourage tertiary education providers to work with students in these situations to support students to stay engaged in their studies.

In instances where a student cannot continue to attend classes for a programme that cannot be taught remotely, StudyLink can continue to make student support payments if the student remains enrolled in study.

The Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) remains available until 30 June 2022. StudyLink can also provide emergency support for students that experience urgent or unexpected costs. 

Urgent or unexpected costs — studylink.govt.nz

More information on support available to students experiencing hardship due to the impact of COVID-19 can be found on the StudyLink website. 

COVID-19 information for students — studylink.govt.nz

Support for students that are unable to continue their studies due to the impact of COVID-19 and withdraw from their programme

If a student disengages or withdraws from study, then their student support payments would stop. However, they may be eligible for other financial assistance, such as a Jobseekers support benefit if they are unable to find work or a continuation payment if they enrolled in a new tertiary programme.

StudyLink has discretion to exclude study from counting towards or affecting entitlements for student loans or allowances. This is applied on a case-by-case basis and would link to whether an individual student’s circumstances were foreseeable. This discretion relates to excluding study from counting towards passing requirements for continued access or extending student allowances beyond the 200-week limit (or 120 weeks for those over the age of 40); it does not relate to fee refunds.

Additional information for StudyLink processes can be found on the StudyLink website. 

COVID-19 information for students — studylink.govt.nz

The TEC may also exclude study from counting towards their first year Fees Free entitlement where they withdraw from study due to the impact of COVID-19. This is applied on a case-by-case basis and would link to whether an individual student’s circumstances were foreseeable. In most cases, students’ decisions not to be vaccinated are unlikely to meet this threshold.

The TEC may also exclude study from counting towards their first year Fees Free entitlement where they withdraw from study due to the impact of COVID-19. This is applied on a case-by-case basis and considers whether an individual student’s circumstances were foreseeable. In most cases, students’ decisions not to be vaccinated are unlikely to meet this threshold. More information on this discretion for Fees Free can be found on the Fees Free website.

FAQs — feesfree.govt.nz