Coronavirus lockdown: How school closures are going to work

New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level will be increased to 4 at midnight on Wednesday and by then all schools must be closed.

The level increase from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern came before the Ministry of Health revealed another spike in cases on Tuesday - up 40 to 155 confirmed and/or probable cases.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ardern warned the outbreak would get worse before getting better.

On Monday, it was announced schools would also close and now work is being done behind the scenes to get children set up with devices, and internet connection to continue working from home.

"This has been an unprecedented event and will continue to challenge us all," secretary for education Ioana Holsted told reporters on Tuesday.

Here's the information Holsted provided about how school closures are going to work.

Parents working in essential services

"We know that in practice some people will need help from others," Holsted told the media on Tuesday afternoon.

"In the case, for example, of the child of an essential worker who cannot stay home and they need to have a child cared for, if they identify a trusted buddy as long as they're not elderly or vulnerable in other ways - they become the child's caregiver.

"However, it is critical that buddy cannot then have other contacts, other than your own household.

"You all become one [self-isolated] group - you should be a tight group. The smaller, the better."

Iona Holsted.
Iona Holsted. Photo credit: Newshub.

Helping children in need 

"Another example could be helping a family with care for their disabled child, to give the primary carers some time to rest," Holsted said. "Again, you need to be identified as part of their self-isolated group and you cannot have other contacts other than those in your own household.

"Consistency is key in making sure we have a very tight circle of carers - needed to minimise any risk of spread."

Support for distance learning

"We're sourcing devices and working through the logistics of getting them to students that need them," said Holsted.

Coronavirus lockdown: How school closures are going to work
Photo credit: Getty

NCEA not at risk - yet 

"Assessments will need to be shifted around a bit. If prolonged, of course, it will be affected and NZQA will provide advice to those schools and to those kids as to what they need to do." 

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