Coronavirus: How schools will operate under alert level 3

Schools and early childhood centres will reopen once New Zealand moves to alert level 3, but there's some restriction on which students can attend. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that only students up to and including year 10 will be allowed back to school, and older students will continue learning via distance.

Attendance will also be voluntary so parents who need to return to work can send their children to school, otherwise they can continue at-home education.

It's been tough work for parents, like Lower Hutt mum of three Shelley Shaw, trying to educate their children. One of her kids has higher needs, and she has a difficult decision to make on whether she will send her children back to school.

"It's a really tough call to make because you also don't want to jeopardise all the great work we've done at level 4."

Ardern is leaving the choice to parents on whether people's children will return to school at level 3.

"Our intention here is to create a place for children to go to learn if their parents need to return to work, but to do so safely," Ardern said.

While schools will reopen at level 3, it's voluntary and parents are asked to keep children home if they can. Years 11 to 13 will continue learning from home, and most tertiary education will be via distance learning. Play centres and playgroups will be closed.

For children who do return to school, they'll only be able to use the playground if it doesn't burst their school bubble. Children will be kept in the same groups, or bubbles, each day.

Children won't go back to school the moment New Zealand moves to level 3, instead schools will have a week to get ready after that decision is made. 

The Government will make a decision on Monday on whether New Zealand will move from alert level 4 to level 3.