Coronavirus: How schools will operate under alert level 2

Schools, early learning centres (ECEs) and tertiary institutions will reopen under alert level 2, Jacinda Ardern announced during Thursday's briefing.

While the decision on when New Zealand changes alert level has not yet been made, the Prime Minister revealed how educational facilities will operate when the alert level decreases.

Ardern says they made the decision because the Government believes students will be safe there.

"I do want to emphasise that with so few cases in New Zealand schools and early learning services are safe environments for children and young people and staff," she says.

"Additional public health measures are in place to prevent the spread of the disease and to support contact tracing. 

"Where possible physical distancing is a good precaution, we do however know it is near impossible in an early learning environment and very challenging in schools, so staying home if sick, using good hygiene practices and regular cleaning becomes even more important here."

Ardern says when the decision to reopen is made, caregivers and staff will have time to prepare as they won't be opening mid-week. They will instead open at the beginning of the following week.

When students return, education centres will be required to collect information about who is there so any future cases can be easily traced and the centre will be immediately shut down.

"If an educational facility has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 in the future, they must close on an individual or group basis for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days if that is required."

For students who can not yet return to school, online learning measures will continue to be in place.

"Distanced learning is available for those unable to attend school, for example, those who are self-isolating because of potentially coming into contact with COVID-19. 

"Tertiary education facilities will remain the core capabilities to provide a comprehensive distanced learning for students if needed."

But for now, Ardern is asking caregivers to wait for further information.

"We know parents have lots of questions but please give schools and early learning centres time to plan and contact you, and just a reminder we are not moving there yet, this is just the framework."