Learning During COVID-19

Learning During COVID-19

512

For more details on the COVID-19 Cook Islands Response, visit Cook Islands Government COVID-19 website

The Education Facilities Public Health Guidelines and Framework is a guide for education facilities in the Cook Islands to manage the impact of COVID-19 in their school communities and ensure all public health measures are being considered.

No single strategy completely reduces risk and not every measure will always be feasible to implement to the fullest extent possible in some educational settings or locations.  Where some controls are addressed at a minimal level, others should be enhanced.

Key Considerations:

  1. Education sector takes lead from Te Marae Ora and the National Disaster Risk Management Council.
  2. An Education Facility means – an early childhood education provider, primary or secondary school, a tertiary institution, a vocational training provider.
  3. Compulsory enrolment and attendance in the Cook Islands remain in place for all children from 5 years old, to the end of the year in which a child turns 16 years (Education Act 2012, Part 4, s23).
  4. A specified frontline worker includes anyone who carries out work at an education facility (including as a teacher, school staff member or volunteer) and who may have contact with students.
  5. High-risk premises, as defined by the COVID-19 (Public Health Measures) Regulations 2021, do NOT include education facilities (schools or providers). However, an enclosed school hall, if 100 or more children are expected to be inside the hall is considered a high-risk premise.
  6. Education facilities are NOT considered to be gatherings as being in groups is part of our ordinary operations at an education facility. However, if education facilities are holding events and gatherings that are likely to exceed 100 people than an exemption from Te Marae Ora is required.  When in groups it is strongly recommended that public health measures are followed, including physical distancing, sanitizing and wearing of masks.
  7. Face masks (face covering) ARE required to be worn indoors at an education facility at any level of response, as advised by Te Marae Ora, by all persons 18 years and older. Face masks may be lowered when indoors if presenting to an audience, class or group and at least 1 metre physical distancing can be observed between the presenter and the audience.
  8. Masks for students younger than 18 years old are strongly encouraged to be worn while at an education facility. If there are students who do not wish to wear masks or find it difficult to wear a mask while at school, that is OK, however, schools are supporting any student who wants to wear a mask.
  9. Education facilities require all visitors to where face masks. In this guideline, a ‘visitor’ means any member of the public, external to the education facility, staff and students, and includes parents/caregivers and any member of the public (including partner agencies, government ministries, NGO’s, community groups)
  10. Face masks are to be worn when using a public transport service, including a school bus.
  11. Education facilities are encouraged to work closely with their respective Puna and/or Island Governments and establish contacts with relevant personnel.
  12. In any instance, education facilities will follow the general public health measures, as detailed in the Cook Islands COVID-19 Safe Framework. These stages are:

Stage 1: General Public Health Measures:

  • Vaccination – Strongly encourage people to get vaccinated.
  • Face Masks – Required on public transport including school buses, passenger transfers, and aircraft.
    – Required for workers (staff across all education facilities included) in close proximity businesses.
    – Required at some high-risk facilities (refer below).
    – Wearing face masks is encouraged when in any public place.
  • High-risk facilities (indoor) – No additional restrictions if facility only allows vaccinated visitors (checks vaccine passes).
    – Noting that education facilities are NOT high-risk premises, as defined by the COVID-19 (Public Health Measures) Regulations 2021. If facility allows unvaccinated visitors (doesn’t check vaccine certificates or passes of those visiting the school), they must
    impose a 100-person maximum capacity, 1 metre physical distancing, face masks are required to be worn.
  • Cook Safe Contact Tracing – Certain facilities must provide Cook Safe tag in stations /
    sign in books, and take steps to ensure their visitors are tagging in.

– Tagging in encouraged at all businesses and facilities.

  • COVID-19 Health and Safety Officers – All businesses and government agencies will be required to appoint a COVID-19 Health and Safety Officer.
  • If Symptomatic – COVID-19 Health and Safety Officer administer Rapid Antigen Test at accommodation or workplace.

– If positive, must isolate and call 20066 or 20065, or the local Puna Health Clinic
– Undertake PCR NPS.

Stage 2:  Public Health Response:

  • Five (5) to ten (10) confirmed cases admitted and requiring hospitalisation with two (2)
    confirmed cases on ventilators. At this point Te Marae Ora will assess whether a Public Health Emergency is required to be declared. Acceptance of referred patients to New Zealand will also need to be factored in.
  • Resourcing will be monitored.
  • Community situation will be monitored.
  • Potential area or national lockdowns.

Stage 3:  State of Emergency:

  • Over ten confirmed cases admitted and requiring hospitalisation with over two (2)
    confirmed cases on ventilators. At this point TMO will assess whether an emergency is
    required to be declared. Acceptance of referred patients to New Zealand will also need to be factored in.
  • Te Marae Ora can no longer control the situation with evidence of growing numbers of
    confirmed cases.
  • Te Marae Ora to advise Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) who will call the
    National Disaster Risk Management Council (NDRMC) and a decision will be made to advise Prime Minister on a State of Emergency being declared.
  • Resourcing will be monitored.
  • Community situation will be monitored.
  • Potential area or national lockdowns.

 

Frequently Asked Questions for Schools and Families

For more information on the Framework and Public Health Measures , schools, providers and our extended school communities can find more detailed information below