COVID Updates

COVID Updates

Tuesday 3rd May


Kia ora,

I hope that you and your whānau enjoyed the Easter break and possibly some family time over the April school holidays.  Now that we’re shifted to Orange, our restrictions for protecting against COVID can reduce slightly, while still ensuring good hygiene precautions.

For your information:

  1. Masks
    Masks must be worn on school and public transport.  At school, masks are strongly encouraged but not compulsory.  We encourage wearing of masks by staff, students and visitors to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community.
  2. Junior PE Uniform
    From Monday 9th May, all students must wear the full Nelson College uniform to and from school.  Junior students may no longer wear their PE uniform outside of their PE classes.  Students must bring it to school and change during their PE lesson.
  3. PE Classes & Sports Practices
    We have started using both gymnasiums again for PE classes and sports practices.  Staff will ensure appropriate hygiene guidelines are followed.  These include ventilation, managing student numbers, hand sanitizer, etc.
  4. Music Practices and Performances
    These will take place with appropriate hygiene practices such as ventilation, distancing where possible, hand sanitizer, etc.
  5. Assemblies
    We hope to start having student assemblies this term.  Shortly we will start with year level assemblies and then, hopefully, return to whole school assemblies later in the term.  We won’t be holding whole-school assemblies in the Hall in the next few weeks.
  6. Winter Sports
    Winter sports (and practices) are up and running this term.

With COVID-19 continuing to circulate in our community, please keep your son home if he’s unwell and/or showing possible COVID symptoms.  If your son is away sick or isolating, he can check his classes’ online resources (via Microsoft Teams) and/or contact his teacher by email.

Ngā mihi nui,

R Dykes
Tumuaki // Principal

Wednesday 13th April


Kia ora tātou,

You’ll be aware that Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced the move to Orange at 11:59pm tonight.

The decision to move to Orange has been made on public health advice and reflects that New Zealand is moving past the peak of cases and our health system is able to cope. We are seeing that cases are declining due to high levels of vaccination and natural immunity after infection.

I wanted to give you an update on what the move to Orange means at Nelson College.

On Ministry advice, we will retain our mask mandate for tomorrow.  Assuming that we’re still at Orange at the start of Term 2, face masks will not be compulsory at Nelson College. However, public health advice is that masks are strongly encouraged when indoors and we support that recommendation.

Wearing a mask is a key health measure that slows the spread of COVID-19 in indoor settings. For that reason, we ask that visitors to the school, including parents and whānau, wear a mask whenever they are indoors on school grounds.

At Orange, all of our students must still wear a face mask on school or public transport.

At Orange, we’ll be able to move closer to resuming normal school routines such as assemblies. We’re working through what the new guidelines mean for our school and we’ll advise you, students and staff as soon as possible.

We’ll continue to keep all of the other health measures in place at school that we know slow the spread of COVID-19. These include ensuring our indoor spaces are well-ventilated, maintaining good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette, appropriate physical distancing whenever we can and, most importantly, staying home if we are sick.

We look forward to a fewer restrictions and returning to school life that’s a bit closer to normal.


Ngā mihi,

R Dykes
Tumuaki (Principal)


Friday 25th February

Dear parents and caregivers,

We now have 57 confirmed cases of COVID at the college.  This includes 16 boarders and 4 staff.  With this and other factors in mind, and after consultation our Board Chair, we’ve decided the following:


      Boarding students will remain home until Sunday 6 March.  Our Director of Boarding, Samme Hippolite will contact boarding families with more information.  We continue to liaise with medical authorities around this.


      Years 9-13 students will remain home and learning online through to Wednesday 2 March.  We’ll return to face-face learning on Thursday 3 March.Our rationale for this is that with Boarders and many other students away, and with a number of staff absent for COVID and other reasons, our ability to teach face-face is compromised.  We believe that we’re better to focus on online learning, and return to face-face on Thursday 3 March.We’ll continue to monitor the situation and advise you of any changes if there are any.


      We’re mindful of the impact of online learning on families, especially essential workers.  If your son is under-14 and you’re an essential worker, he can come to school and study in the library.Students will need to bring their own device and study online in the library.  We will provide supervision and organise breaks at interval and lunchtime.  Students will also need to bring in food and drink.Students coming in must report to reception before 9.00am each day and must remain at school until the end of the day at 3.30pm.


Yet again, thanks for your support and mahi in challenging times.

Thursday 24th February

Dear parents and caregivers,

The Government has announced that at 11.59pm tonight, the country will move to CPF: Red – Phase 3.  Without seeing official guidelines, I understand that this will change how we determine close contacts.

The Senior Leadership Team have met and decided that we will proceed with our ‘Learning from Home’ day tomorrow, and review our plans for next week when we have read the MOE/MOH’s guidelines.  We believe this is the best option for tomorrow as COVID is still spreading in our community and we want to ensure the robustness of our online learning systems.


All years 9-13 students are to remain home.  Teachers will focus on delivering online classes for years 9 and 10, with possibly some senior classes having online learning.  Otherwise, seniors should carry on with their independent learning.


I will advise you of our plans for next week tomorrow.


We will review boarding in light of the new guidelines tomorrow, and advise all boarding whānau tomorrow.  Again, many thanks to our staff there, and whānau, who’ve worked tirelessly to support our boarders and their well-being.

Wednesday 23rd February

Dear parents and caregivers,

NELSON COLLEGE IS SHIFTING TO ONLINE LEARNING.  Year 9 students are to come to school tomorrow (Thursday 24/2) and years 10-13 students are to remain at home and study online.

Our Senior Leadership team has discussed the matter and believe we need to take this step to best protect the well-being of our students and staff, and to get the best student learning over the next few days and weeks.

At this stage, this only relates to students in years 9-13.  Years 7-8 Prep School students will continue to attend school for face-face learning.

My rationale for this decision includes:

    • I’m concerned at the spread of COVID in our community.  
    • Many students are now isolating, either because we have contact traced them or whānau are being cautious.  Consequently many classes now have a majority of students absent and learning is more compromised by prioritising face-face learning.
    • A growing number of staff are absent for isolation and other reasons.  This is compromising our ability to teach students and to maintain adequate supervision through the day.

My hope is that online learning will only last for the rest of this week and next.  

I apologise for the late notice and the disruption this may cause some families.  We have endeavoured to maintain normal operations as long as possible.  Unfortunately omicron is a fast-moving and we need to respond accordingly. 

Details are as follows:


We now have 31 positive student cases and 2 positive staff cases.  11 of the student cases are boarders.  Points of transmission are boarding, close contact sport and now buses.  We now have a very large number of students isolating.


    • Thu 24/2
         Year 9 students come to school for face-face learning
         Years 10-13 stay home and learn online
    • Fri 25/2
        Years 9-13 students stay home and learn online
    • Mon 28/3 – Fri 4/3
        Years 9-13 students stay home and learn online
    • Mon 7/3   
        All students return to school for face-face learning 

All boarders (who can) will start going home tomorrow for the rest of this week and next.  Our Director of Boarding will be contact boarding parents shortly with more details.

Apart from year 9 students who come to school tomorrow (Thursday 24/2), all lessons will now be online for the rest of this week and next.  This is the same as last year.  We will run a normal school timetable, with period 1 starting at 9.00am each day.  There will be a homeroom on Tuesday and Thursday at 8.30am on those days.

Our reception will remain open through these dates.  Please contact the school immediately if your son tests positive for COVID-19.  We need this information to contact trace, and to monitor how long we remain learning online.


    • a new or worsening cough
    • sneezing and runny nose
    • a fever
    • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
    • sore throat
    • shortness of breath

Less common symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain, or confusion/irritability. More information is available at

Shifting to online learning does NOT mean that your son is a close contact.  We have contacted all known close contacts directly.  If you haven’t heard from us, your son is NOT a close contact.

Thanks in advance for your support in challenging times.  He waka eke noa … we’re all in this together.

Sunday 20th February

Dear parents and caregivers,

This is to update you with regard to COVID cases at Nelson College.  We now have 3 students who’ve tested positive for COVID, including one in our boarding community.

Our boarding staff have done an excellent job to identify and isolate affected students and close contacts.  They’ve closely followed Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines to ensure the well-being of our boarders.  Some boarders have now gone home as a pre-emptive measure.  Where this isn’t possible, students have been safely isolated within boarding.  Boarding staff continue to work with MOH staff.

Our Deputy Principals have identified and contacted the whānau of close contacts of the students (with COVID) while they were at school.  If you haven’t heard from the school, your son is NOT a close contact and should come to school as per normal.

Under current Covid Protection Framework (Red, Phase 2) settings, to become a close contact you  need to have had consistent exposure (usually over 2 hours) or very close physical contact with a confirmed case. The use of masks in schools greatly reduces the risk of transmission.

According to the MOH, COVID-19 is spreading in the Nelson community.


    • you and your whānau should watch for symptoms
    • if any develop, get tested immediately
    • then, stay at home until you receive the result
    • if your whānau hasn’t been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. You can book on-line at or by calling 0800 28 29 26. It’s free.
    • check that your son is ready for online learning, e.g. does he have access to a device at home and know how to connect to his classes’ TEAMS?


Nelson College remains open, with close contacts remaining home and learning online.  We have appropriate public health measures and cleaning procedures in place


    • a new or worsening cough
    • sneezing and runny nose
    • a fever
    • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
    • sore throat
    • shortness of breath
    • less common symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain, or confusion/irritability.

For more information, please visit

Thursday 17th February

Dear parents and caregivers,

The health and wellbeing of our children, staff and community is a top priority.  I’m sending this letter as there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community. The student was at school for a short period of time on Monday 14 February. This is a scenario we have been expecting and preparing for.

We have individually contacted the whānau of students who have been identified as close contacts as per Ministry of Education guidelines.  All other students are able to continue to attend school as per usual.

What you need to do:

    • You and your whānau should watch for symptoms
    • If any develop symptoms, get tested immediately
    • Then, stay at home until you receive the result
    • If your whānau hasn’t been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. You can book on-line at or by calling 0800 28 29 26. It’s free.

What we’re doing:

    • School will stay open
    • We have appropriate public health measures and cleaning procedures in place

Symptoms of COVID-19:

    • A new or worsening cough
    • Sneezing and runny nose
    • A fever
    • Temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath

Less common symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain, or confusion/irritability.

For more information, please visit

Hybrid Learning:

Over the coming days and weeks there may be times when teachers are working from home but students are in school, or when some students are working online from home while others are in class.

The hub for each of our online classrooms is the class Team. This often includes a OneNote with pages of lesson activities. If your child is working online either at home or at school, the class Team is the first place they should go.

Your child will need to take responsibility for going to the Team for each of his classes and finding the instructions for tasks. You can contact your son’s teachers by email.  Contact our front office if you want to get a teacher’s email address.


Thursday 27th January

Under RED of the COVID Protection Framework (CPF), Nelson College remains open for onsite (face-to-face) learning.  However, many things will change to follow government and Ministry of Education (MOE) guidelines.  We’re still working through many of these, but below are our initial guidelines and changes for students and whānau.

Face coverings
All students must wear face coverings when inside at school when we are at RED.  Public health advice is that an appropriate face covering will fit snugly and seal well around facial contours. This can include single use, disposable masks (medical masks) and re-usable fabric masks with three layers.

Don’t worry if you don’t have these specific types of face coverings, as public health experts also say that any face covering is better than no face covering.  The Unite Against COVID-19 website also has information on how to make a face covering.

For those of you with children who might be reluctant to wear a face covering, there is some helpful advice from Michigan Health, including using simple, specific explanations about why they need to wear a face covering, adults being the role models, providing small rewards for wearing them, bringing face coverings into play such as drawing face coverings on characters in colouring books, or letting them choose/make the mask.

If your child requires an exemption, please contact his Dean to discuss this.  Students with an exemption must wear a pass on a lanyard while indoors.

Vaccination for five- to 11-year-olds
Vaccination including a booster shot, remains an important tool to help prevent the most serious harm from the COVID-19 virus. If children and young adults who have been vaccinated do develop COVID-19, they are far less likely to get seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.

The free 5-11 vaccination programme is now underway and more than 100,000 children in New Zealand have had their first dose.  There is some helpful information available to support you on the Unite Against COVID-19 website including How to book a vaccine for your 5 – 11 year old and some great videos on the Kids Health page that can support you to talk to your tamariki about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Events and activities
Large hui and gatherings especially when indoors continue to be one of the riskier activities we can undertake.  The MOE has advised schools and kura against running these.  We’ve therefore adjusted our first week calendar.  For example, we will run smaller mihi whakatau rather than a full pōwhiri for new students.  Students should still come to school as per our start up dates and times.  However, should it be raining on Tuesday 1 February, we may need to finish the day early.  A summary of dates and times for next week are as follows:

  • Mon 31 Jan      Nelson Anniversary
  • Tue 1 Feb         Year 9 Orientation Day
                                    … 9.00am          Y9 students meet outside Hall to be taken to homeroom
    … 2.00pm          end of day (good weather)
    … 1.00pm          end of day (wet weather)
  • Wed 2 Feb     All students at school
                                    … see start times on school website
  • Thu 3 Feb      First full day
                                        … Monday timetable, students start in homeroom at 8.45am

We will advise changes to other upcoming calendar events next week.

School Canteen
The school canteen will remain open under RED.

Managing cases in our school
We have a good contact tracing system in place so that if there is a confirmed case who has been at school while infectious, we can quickly identify who was a close contact of that person.  We will then quickly advise those contacts of what they need to do.  Please make sure your contact details we have on file are up to date, so we can get in touch with you if needed.

It is possible that an outbreak of Omicron could force the school to close our physical on-site school and move to distance learning for everyone.  We will work closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) or the MOE around this. At RED we will keep everyone learning onsite for as long as we can.

Stay at home if you’re feeling unwell
We ask students who are feeling unwell for any reason to stay at home in the first instance until they are feeling better.  We encourage each student to have a ‘buddy’ for each class,so that if your son is away for any reason, he has someone to catch up on notes, resources, etc

Preparing for COVID-19
You can also prepare for COVID-19, making sure you and your household have a plan and know what to do. This will mean your whānau and community can help each other if needed. Find out more here:

Self-isolating at home because of COVID-19
Many people will be able to manage self-isolation with help from friends and whānau, but there is help available if you need it – both with health support and access to food and other essentials.

If you know anyone in your community affected by COVID-19 and who may need help, such as food and other financial assistance, Work and Income has a range of supports available for individuals, families, employers and self-employed people affected by COVID-19.

Work and Income support
The beginning of the year can be a tough time for parents who are faced with many costs and it is important you are aware of what assistance you may be able to get from Work and Income. These are available to people on a low income as well as those on a benefit.  Check what you might get here

Use the links above or call 0800 559 009 to find out more.  MoneyTalks can assist with free budgeting and debt help.  You can also contact your local community provider. Please find more information here.