Coping with change in challenging times

Issue: Volume 99, Number 5

Posted: 25 March 2020
Reference #: 1HA6sQ

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted has this message for schools, kura and early learning services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coping with change in challenging timesIona

Thank you for the leadership, care and kindness that you are showing to support children, young people, staff and communities to stay safe and well. This is an unprecedented event, and will continue to challenge us all. 

As you know, on 23 March 2020 the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand would be moving to Level 3 for 48 hours, and from 11.59pm on Wednesday 25 March we move to Level 4 in the COVID-19 Alert Level structure. This will be for a period of four weeks, with people instructed to stay at home, and all school sites and early learning centres to be closed. 

School holidays will now be from Monday 30 March to Tuesday 14 April inclusive (a reminder that the Tuesday after Easter Monday is always a closed day for schools). Following the school holiday period, schools will remain physically closed but will be open for distance teaching and learning. 

The Ministry has launched two websites to support learning from home – Learning from Home(external link) and Ki te Ao Mārama(external link). We will also be working over the next few weeks to provide further supports for distance learning. We will provide details of how interested people can contribute to this work – keep an eye on our Bulletins. 

We are also providing some advice on how to communicate with children about the outbreak, in an effort to help them to understand what is happening, to cope with change, and to stay healthy. 

We will continue to keep you updated with the latest information through our Early Learning Bulletins(external link) and School Bulletins(external link). The Government’s COVID-19 website(external link) provides a central point for information about COVID-19.  

Please take care and remember the critical importance of staying socially connected with each other during this time.   

Nāku noa, nā 


Supporting learning from home

The Ministry of Education has launched Learning from Home(external link) and Ki te Ao Mārama(external link), two new websites containing advice and resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders spanning early learning through to senior secondary, to support learning at home. 

The resources include activities that parents can use with their children and young people alongside what teachers provide. The resources will also support teachers to plan activities for children and young people to work on from home. 

The resources are sorted in age groups and year levels to help adapt for children’s learning. More resources will be added in the coming days and weeks.  

The Ministry will continue working on next steps to support distance learning where it is most needed and as part of contingency planning in case the four-week period is further extended. .

For Te Reo Māori resources, visit the Kauwhata Reo(external link) website.

For resources relating to NCEA, visit the NZQA(external link) website for more information. 

Communicating with children about COVID-19 

Here are some tips for teachers and support staff on how to help children and young people cope with the impact of COVID-19.

Coping with change 

To help children and young people cope with the changes caused by COVID-19, teachers can support families and whānau to provide them with accurate information and facts, including about how to prevent the virus.  

Reassure children and young people that health and education experts are working hard to limit the spread of this virus and help everyone to stay healthy.  

Support families with re-establishing routines whenever possible,  

and with looking at alternative, safe, and fun activities when their sport, cultural and community events and practices are put on hold. 

Staying healthy 

Reinforce positive preventive measures, such as washing and drying hands often and thoroughly; keeping a safe physical distance from others; coughing and sneezing into the bend of your elbow; not sharing food or drinks; and avoiding handshakes, hongi and hugs. 

Encourage children to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. 

Support families with discussing any fears to help with mental well-being.  

To reduce anxiety, it is important to give children and young people a sense of control over their risk of infection. Simple calming activities, such as breathing exercises, may help. Sparklers(external link) has a range of calming activities for young children. Apps like Headspace(external link) can also help young people reduce anxiety. It is important to remember that children and young people look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. 

Keeping in contact 

Keep the lines of communication open with your students’ families,  

so that they feel informed, supported and comfortable communicating any changes. 

Support families and whānau to encourage children and young people to keep up social contact with their friends and family, from a safe distance, and safely online if appropriate.  

Encourage kindness 

The important message is to encourage compassion and kindness - hopefully, the goodwill will last longer than the pandemic. 

For more information, see the Ministry of Education’s(external link) website. There, you can check out a video on this topic from NanoGirl (aka Michelle Dickinson) on this topic.

  Coping with change


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:31 AM, 25 March 2020

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts