Announcement of schools closing ‘relief’


Dunedinites rushed to stores and petrol stations yesterday following the government's plea to not...
Dunedinites rushed to stores and petrol stations yesterday following the government's plea to not panic buy. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Schools will close and tertiary studies will be shifted online as New Zealand prepares to enter lockdown.

Schools and early childhood centres are closed as of today, except for the children of essential workers.

They will close for all pupils at the end of tomorrow.

Otago Secondary Principals’ Association president Linda Miller said yesterday’s announcement came as a relief, as there had been much uncertainty.

She believed Otago schools were well equipped to provide online learning for pupils.

"We are aware of the issue of inequity, with some members of our community not having access to the internet or a computer," she said.

She encouraged people in that situation to contact their school, as it may be able to help.

Most schools — and the Ministry of Education — were yesterday still finalising how learning in a level four environment would be provided.

"Many of you have already raised questions about distributing material and online learning," an email from Otago Southland director of education Julie Anderson to school principals said.

"We are seeking guidance and expect that more information in relation to this will be released through special issue bulletins and on the ministry website."

In a statement, University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the university was accelerating its move to online teaching.

With face-to-face teaching no longer possible, the University was suspending all teaching immediately and was aiming to return with online learning as soon as possible.

All assessment deadlines would be revised to accommodate the disruption.

When the level four restrictions come into effect, the university’s campuses will be off-limits to everyone except staff providing essential services.

Residential colleges will remain operational as they were considered an essential service.

In an email to staff, Otago Polytechnic deputy chief executive Associate Prof Megan Gibbons said polytechnic holidays would be brought forward to Thursday.

"Tertiary institutions like Otago Polytechnic must now close, though funding will continue to flow."

It would move to a work-from-home model immediately.

"This is a suspension of face-to-face teaching, not a suspension of learning.

"The support functions of the organisation will continue to operate to support our core business, albeit from home."

Staff were asked to prepare to work from home, and to keep a diary of who they came into close contact with while they did so.

In an email sent to Southern Institute of Technology staff and students yesterday, chief executive Penny Simmonds confirmed all SIT campuses and its child care centre would close for the duration of the level four alert.

"We will continue to operate as much as we can remotely, including remote delivery of programmes, taking applications etc, but there will be no on-campus work or delivery during the next four weeks.

"I will forward further information as it comes out but please make plans to have everyone off site within the next 48 hours."



  • All schools and early childhood centres closed from today, except for children of essential workers. All schools and early childhood centres closed fully from the end of tomorrow.
  • Tertiary providers will stop in-person teaching, learning will move online where possible.
  • Two of the next four weeks will count as school holidays.
  • Funding for education providers will continue.

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