Information for the tertiary and international education sector
Overview of the Long-term approach to managing COVID-19
The long-term approach to managing COVID-19 came into effect at 11.59pm on Monday 12 September 2022, replacing the previous COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF). This means:
- The COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) is no longer in effect.
- All remaining worker vaccination mandates will be removed at 11:59pm, 26 September 2022.
- Masks continue to be required in health settings, but are longer required on public transport or in any other settings.
- Confirmed COVID-19 cases are still legally required to self-isolate for 7 days. Anyone who is symptomatic is encouraged to stay home and get tested.
- Household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are no longer required to self-isolate, but are asked to test for COVID-19 for the first 5 days of the case’s isolation period, and to wear a mask when out and about.
- Vaccination and post-arrival testing are not required at the border. Arriving passengers will be encouraged to test on days 0/1 and 5/6.
More information about the Long-term approach to managing COVID-19 can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.
What these changes mean for tertiary education providers
Tertiary education can operate as normal, but providers may choose to implement public health measures if a risk assessment determines that it is appropriate to do so.
Masks will no longer be required or recommended in tertiary education settings, however they can continue to be worn by those who feel more comfortable doing so.
For those that choose to wear a mask, for best protection wear a good quality mask that fits well and is comfortable to wear.
For more information on mask use, see: Unite against COVID-19 — covid19.govt.nz
Confirmed COVID-19 cases must isolate for 7 days.
Household contacts of confirmed Cases are not required to isolate but are asked to undertake daily testing (RATs) for the first 5 days of the case’s isolation period, and to wear a mask when out and about.
For more information about household contacts, see: Unite against COVID-19 — covid19.govt.nz
Guidance for different learning locations
Where possible, providers are encouraged to make learning options available for those who are unable to attend classes being held onsite.
Teaching and learning spaces
Tertiary education providers can choose to set capacity limits in teaching and learning spaces, taking into account the community transmission and vaccination rates in their area and other public health requirements they may impose (for example physical distancing, face masks, and ventilation).
Teaching and learning spaces include (but are not limited to): labs, tutorials, noho marae, research spaces, theatres, libraries, and indoor hubs.
Workplace-based learning, including apprenticeships, practicums, internships, and work placements
Workplace-based learning (including support and assessments) is to be managed based on policies, practices, and public health control requirements applying to that workplace.
Onsite businesses and services
Businesses and services operating on tertiary education sites should follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines and the rules for the relevant sector (e.g., health services will have mask requirements).
Record keeping on campus
Tertiary education providers are not required to enable people to record their visit (for example, by displaying COVID Tracer QR codes).
However, providers should be ready to swiftly reinstall COVID Tracer QR codes in case these are required again in future.
Undertake risk assessments for tertiary education
This high-level guidance is intended to assist providers to develop protocols and policies, in consultation with students, staff, and relevant representative bodies, on how they will operate.
Providers should have already completed this process but are encouraged to update their risk assessments to ensure these continue to align with the latest public health guidance and that their protocols and policies are reasonable and proportionate.
Work with staff, students and community
We recommend tertiary education providers work with their staff, students, and communities to make plans (or update their existing plans) for how to manage COVID-19 and help reduce transmission in their community. Providers should have plans for information-sharing and offer wellbeing and safety supports for staff and students. Providers should inform staff and students of their plans, including any changes to policies and procedures.
Protecting the most vulnerable
You will continue to have people in your community who are vulnerable to becoming very unwell from COVID-19. It may therefore be timely to review your health and safety plans for those more vulnerable individuals.
More information for people at higher risk is available on the Ministry of Health’s website:
COVID-19: Higher risk people — Ministry of Health NZ
Assessment of premises
We recommend tertiary education providers undertake a thorough risk assessment of their wider premises (including student accommodation) and develop proposals to manage COVID-19 (these include but are not limited to):
- clear rules as to whether students and staff are required to be onsite or whether they should learn or work remotely,
- systems and practices to support staff and learner wellbeing and safety, and
- practices to promote safe and healthy learning and work environments.
Providers may need to update their risk assessments over time to ensure they are aligned with the latest public health guidance.
The is no Government vaccination requirement in effect. This includes the removal of previously legislated prohibition on preventing entry to designated premises on the grounds of vaccination (for example, school students accessing secondary-tertiary provision).
If tertiary and international education providers wish to continue or implement a vaccination policy, these decisions would need to be based on an up-to-date health and safety risk assessment which reflects current public health advice, and done in consultation with their staff, students and wider tertiary community.
We note the complex environment tertiary and international education providers need to make these decisions in. This environment includes providers’ human rights obligations, health and safety requirements, expectations for learner wellbeing and safety systems (such as through the tertiary and international code of practice), contractual relationships with students, student enrolment entitlements, and equity considerations.
We recommend that in cases of doubt, seek appropriate health or legal advice.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and WorkSafe provide guidance for businesses (including tertiary providers) to assist with developing or updating their plans for vaccination requirements:
Vaccines and the workplace — Employment New Zealand
COVID-19: Information to help workplaces manage COVID-19 — worksafe.govt.nz
Your obligations to learners and staff
Tertiary education providers should consider their obligations to learners and employees under the Long-term approach to managing COVID-19, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, WorkSafe regulations, Education and Training Act 2020, Human Rights Act 1993, Privacy Act 2020, and the tertiary and international Code of Practice.
Providers will be subject to requirements set out in legislation and Orders implementing the Long-term approach to managing COVID-19, unless specifically excluded from such requirements.
We recommend that tertiary education providers encourage students, staff, and visitors onsite to take all sensible precautions to keep themselves safe, including vaccination.
Advice to an unwell student or staff member
If there is a medical emergency, call 111.
Concern about the health of a student or staff member
If you have a particular concern about the health of a student or staff member, ask the student or staff member to call:
- Their doctor or nurse practitioner
- Iwi health provider, or
- Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS). Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages.
Some people may avoid COVID-19 testing or treatment for fear of cost. Treatment for all people who have, or who are suspected of having, COVID-19 is free (publicly funded under the infectious disease exception) to the extent appropriate in the circumstances to manage risks to other persons. This covers everyone in New Zealand, regardless of visa/citizenship status or length of time in the country.
Please note that the services are limited to:
- Treatment of the person’s infectious or quarantinable disease.
- Follow-up services.
- Contact tracing services.
- Surveillance of persons who are liable to quarantine under the Health Act 1956.
Guide to people receiving treatment for infectious diseases — health.govt.nz
Care of students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 but do not require hospitalisation
If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not require hospitalisation, they will need to follow the advice of the appropriate health professionals (such as their doctor) for health care.
Providers must comply with the requirements in the tertiary and international Code of Practice. This includes supporting all students with information and ensuring oversight of students who may be at risk, as well as the more detailed requirements for domestic and international students in accommodation arranged by the provider.