Coronavirus Information

Update 3/4

Ngā mihi ki a koutou,

I thought I would give you an update on what is happening through the school holidays to support students and families when school starts back on Wednesday 15 April..

Distance Learning

The Ministry of Education is working to ensure schools and communities are prepared for distance learning to commence after these school holidays. They are prioritising families and students in most need of support, particularly those in isolated communities and those engaged in NCEA courses.. This may look like ensuring solid digital access by way of devices and internet capability if possible and providing hard copies of work where needed. We have been told we can no longer send resource packs home to students, so aside from what the students currently have, St John’s College is looking at primarily a digital learning environment through Google Classroom and other digital means.

Online safety

As we move into a period of online learning it is important that you discuss internet safety with your children. Please take the time to make agreements with them on what they can do online including sites they can visit and appropriate behaviours including:

  • reviewing and approving games and apps before they are downloaded

  • reviewing privacy settings of sites and applications

  • checking children’s profiles and what they are posting online

  • check the sites your child is accessing

  • reminding children that anything that is posted online will be permanently on the internet

  • taking the time to understand what sites they are visiting and who they are talking with and check in regularly

  • monitoring a child’s use of the internet and consider having them use it in an open, common area of the house

  • making sure your children know to report any activity they don’t feel comfortable with to parents and caregivers straight away.

Netsafe is a great place to start if you are grappling with any issues. They have information for parents and caregivers and have pulled together their top tips for online safety during the lockdown. To report an incident To Netsafe -

If you think a child in your care is the victim of online exploitation or abuse, report it to Police - if you or a child are in danger or a crime is being committed, call 111 or visit your nearest Police Station immediately.


There may continue to be some uncertainty around NCEA for some time, NZQA have an awful lot to consider. The shutdown of schools without notice has meant there will be a number of issues to work through as we move forward into term two (beginning 15 April). Due dates, internal assessments, authenticity issues and more will create many questions for the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and all secondary schools.

Please be assured that St John’s College will continue to be both fair and reasonable when students have been negatively impacted by circumstances beyond their control. We will follow directives from NZQA and we have processes in place. Please, if you have any specific concerns around teaching, learning and assessment, contact the staff who can help you. A guideline for the best person contact is below.

School Structures

School leadership and management structures continue throughout lockdown and online learning. If you have specific subject concerns, please start with your son’s teacher. Heads of Faculty or Teacher’s In Charge will be the next port of call for any curriculum issues. Lists of key staff and their email contacts can be found here on the college website.

The start of Term 2 will be no different than the start of any other term, focusing on high quality learning outcomes for all our students. Rest assured, we will continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure that our fine young men get a great education through these challenging times. Good communication between the home and the school will be central to positive outcomes over this time.

I’m probably going to do a video for our learning community next week to outline next steps as we jump into digital learning so if you have any questions please feel free to email me directly - - please put the email subject: Video Q&A. I will endeavour to answer what I can in the video, but please don’t expect individual responses at this time.

I wish you all the best for the remaining ‘holiday’ and I will be in touch late next week with some further updates on digital learning in Term 2.

Update 27/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver and students,

We end term one in a very unconventional and unexpected way, finishing early and with many restrictions being placed upon us to keep us all safe. We will have had plans and hopes as to how we were going to spend our holidays dashed, we need to make the most of things. It is going to be a quiet time. Time to focus on ourselves and those who we are closest to.

I would like to express my thanks to our wider community for being so supportive and patient during these challenging times and for the contributions that you will continue to make to support your son with their learning as we go digital.

I would also like to thank all of our staff who have shown true resolve and innovation over the past couple of weeks to ensure that our fine young men will continue to engage in quality online learning online from the start of Term 2.

To our fine young men of Saint John’s College, I urge you to show what being a Johnnies boy is all about - show true family spirit by working with your parents over the next few weeks and recognising that we are all in this together.

It is a time to work together and recognise that at times, you will have to make compromises, just like everyone else. To show both resolve and restraint, flexibility and structure is going to be important in the weeks ahead. I’ve been impressed with the attitudes I’ve seen as you all start adjusting to a new norm. Enjoy some peace in your lives, away from the pressures of term so that you can return to quite a different approach to your learning in term 2. I know that you will return with enthusiasm and a renewed commitment to study. To our senior students, do not worry about NCEA adn what all this might mean for you, all will come good - so long as you engage with your learning and put 110% effort into your studies.

Make sure that you keep connected with each other, through whatever means you use - Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or dischord or dare I say it… a phone! You are all blessed to be part of a close community, we look after ourselves and our own. When times are difficult we stand tall, shoulder to shoulder and support each other.

I remind you that Mr Borman’s will be leading a liturgy each Wednesday at 7:30pm on our Facebook page, in addition Bishop Steve Lowe is delivering his daily mass from home -

There will be some information and reminders about how students are going to be engaging in online learning sent out towards the end of the holidays. Please keep safe, observe the measures that have put been put in place and stay strong.

Update 24/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

In my correspondence to you yesterday evening there was some important information from government around self-isolating groups and circles of care. We can confirm these groups don’t need to be registered. There are however some very important messages that do need to be understood by all in the group:

  • The intent of forming this group beyond an immediate household is to be able to provide necessary support for people who rely on support from others (eg, elderly people living alone, families who need support with caring for children).
  • In forming this group, everyone in it must understand how crucial it is to keep it tight and to an absolute minimum number of people.
  • Even in a small group people must take care of themselves and others through good hygiene including thorough handwashing and drying, good coughing and sneezing etiquette and physical distancing.

An example could be where an essential worker who is required to work, can have their child cared for by a trusted buddy, as long as they are not elderly or vulnerable. That buddy and the buddy’s own household will need to be included as part of that self-isolating group. However, it is critical that the buddy and their household cannot then have any other external contacts.  As soon as a member of that household has contact with another person (and therefore their household) they all need to be incorporated into the self-isolating group.
Another example could be helping a family with care for their disabled child to give the primary carers some time to rest. But again, you need to be identified as part of their self-isolated group and you cannot have any other contacts other than those in your own household.

I cannot stress the importance of the lockdown that we will be entering at midnight on Wednesday enough. The graphic below is a good reminder as to just how effective physical distancing and staying at home will be to contain levels of infection.

I have had some very positive feedback from teachers today on how they are progressing with planning for online learning, many have started putting learning content onto google classroom ahead of the start of term two. May I remind you that holiday/term dates have changed. The end of Term 1 is now Friday, with Term 2 starting on Wednesday 15 April.

Teachers are going to have a virtual staff meeting via Google Meet tomorrow morning. I will be instructing them not to check their school email during the holidays. They too need time to rest, spend time with family in addition to time that will need to be spent planning for the delivery of an online curriculum in term 2. I ask that you respect this and do not try to contact our teachers during the holiday period.

I appreciate your continued support of the college through the weeks ahead.

Update 23/3

The Prime Minister has today announced we are moving to Level 3 for the next 48 hours and then from 00:01am Thursday 26 March we move to Level 4 in the COVID-19 Alert Level structure for a further period of 4 weeks where people are instructed to stay at home. With this announcement we are implementing with urgency our plan to support your son’s learning from home. We appreciate this is a sudden and significant change, and will be heavily disruptive to many people in our wider community. School holidays will start early, from 30 March to 14 April inclusive. Work will not be set for this time. Teachers will be available between 11am and 1pm from Tuesday to Friday this week. New work will be available online for students from the 15th of April. As students have already had the opportunity to collect books and resources they can no longer come on to the school site, unless attending as an essential workers child.

Parents, please support us by ensuring that your son(s) have joined their google classrooms so that they can access future learning online. All communication to students about work that needs to be completed will be made via google classroom, so it is important that students have checked it by 10am each day, then they are flexible about when they complete the work.

For children of essential workers only, we look forward to seeing your child here at school tomorrow and Wednesday morning at the normal time, they must meet in the atrium at 8:45am. Please note that there will be limited staff supervision and students must bring their own food/drink as there will be no canteen service. Students must bring to school any essential medications as these went home with students today.

You may wish to check if you are considered an essential worker -  However, those roles include doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police. We continue to ask that children who are not well, do not attend school. Please note - if you are an essential worker and wanting your son to attend Tue/Wed you must submit this form asap - before tomorrow.

All bus services will run as normal for Tuesday except for Te Awamutu service which is not running. It is unlikely that Huntly, Ngaruawahia and Te Awamutu will run on Wednesday for those children of essential workers.

Important information from Government

If you need to have your child cared for by someone else you will need to identify that person or people as part of your self-isolated group. This will need to be done by midnight Wednesday and the group must remain the same for the whole 4 week period. The caregiver’s own group (eg, their partner and children), your child and your own group (eg, your parents and other children) become one group. This group needs to be limited to minimise any risk of spread and should be no more than 20 people.

Your child will be looking to you for guidance about this decision. Parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers will have a particularly important part to play in reassuring children at this time. If you haven’t already done so, you may wish to read the information put together by the Ministry of Education to support your conversations with your children – Talking to children about COVID-19

As noted by the Prime Minister, these restrictions are our best chance to slow the virus in New Zealand and to save lives. We all have a clear role here to slow the spread of COVID-19.

These are unprecedented times in New Zealand, I thank you for all the support you have given the college over the past week. There will be additional information coming out from me regarding some strategies to support the health and wellbeing of teenagers during this difficult time. Also watch our Facebook page for posts during this period of time.

Update 22/3

We have been proactive in communicating with bus service providers today to ascertain whether there are going to be any issues with services tomorrow. I can confirm that all bar one bus service will be running their normal service tomorrow (Monday) to get the boys to and from school tomorrow. The Te Awamutu bus will not be running tomorrow - if you cannot find an alternative method of getting your son into school please notify us through email -

I will communicate any further updates with you this evening.

Update 21/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I am writing to inform you that our 2 forthcoming parent/teacher interview evenings (Junior-24 March, Senior-2 April) have been cancelled. These are not viable events for us to run in light of COVID-19. But…. all is not lost… Those of you who have made appointments to see teachers will get a short email from them to bring you up to speed on how your son has settled into his studies during this term. You can expect to receive emails regarding students by Friday 27 March for Junior appointments and Friday 3 April for Senior appointments.


Many of you will have seen the PM's address at midday today (Sat 21/3) and her reference to those with compromised immune systems needing to to not go into work and to work from home. School is open as normal from Monday for all students and we expect them to attend. Those students who have compromised immune systems are to stay at home next week.

If your son as a compromised immune system and you will be keeping him away please complete this form before midday on Monday 23 March. There is no need to notify the college of his absence once you have completed this form.

Update 20/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I would like to thank you for your continued support this week, the level of support that we have received from parents completing surveys and supporting their sons has been unprecedented. We continue to strive to maintain Saint John’s College as a high quality learning environment for all students. May I remind you that we are open as normal for school on Monday and expect all students to be in lessons, unless they’ve been instructed by medical practitioners to stay at home.

The last couple of days have demonstrated how much mis-information is out in the public domain so I thought it prudent to share with you what will happen if we were to have a positive case of COVID-19 in our college community:

  • The Principal will be informed by the Medical Officer of Health and Ministry of Education if a case is confirmed at Saint John’s College. This includes students, staff members, or a member of the student or staff member’s household. The college will then work with the Ministry to ensure that parents/caregivers receive clear and immediate notification of the situation.
  • A confirmed case of someone at the college will result in us being asked to close temporarily by the Medical Officer of Health. This will allow time for contact and trace protocols to be put in place, along with appropriate testing. A thorough clean of the school would also be undertaken
  • You have already received initial details on our plan to support online learning should the college have to close temporarily.

I both acknowledge, appreciate and share the concerns that families will be having around the future development of COVID-19 cases and the need to safeguard your own families and whānau. Be assured that with no cases confirmed at Saint John’s College, your sons can come to school in the knowledge that they are in the best, safest place.

Please continue to remind the boys of good hygiene, this is a high priority for us in school, so whatever you can do to emphasise this at home is important. A diagram developed by Dr Siouxsie Wiles is attached to this email. This is useful in helping us consider symptoms. It is important to note that a dry cough and a high temperature are common to both flu and COVID-19. Also, that while sneezing is not a symptom of COVID-19, if someone has COVID-19, then sneezing can spread droplets containing the virus.

To maintain the healthy environment at Saint John’s College please do not send your son to school if he is unwell. If he exhibits any of the symptoms shown as linking to COVID-19 please ensure that he is seen by your doctor.

We continue to receive excellent advice and guidance from both the Ministry of Health and Education and continue to adapt our responses according to the information received in order to maintain a healthy, safe and positive environment for your son.

Encourage the boys to get out there this weekend, stretch their legs, exercise, do the things that boys do, so that they are ready to engage in learning again upon their return to school on Monday.

Update 19/3

Many of you will have watched the Prime Minister on TV last night - the guidelines around self-isolation have changed. I've checked this morning and the Ministry of Health have yet to update any information on their website to reflect this change. The Prime minister is requesting that self-isolation is imposed for all returning travellers over the last 2 weeks, even if not required.

We are aware of some students who have returned from overseas since 4 March but prior to the 1am March 16 cutoff for self-isolation. These students must not attend school until they have seen out the balance of their time (14 days) in self-isolation.

Update 18/3

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

I would like to advise you that with immediate effect I am Acting Principal, Mr Tong has had to go back into hospital due to complications with his knee and we will not be seeing him back this term. We wish him all the very best with a speedy recovery. Currently in New Zealand there is no community transmission of COVID-19 and as such there is no reason for mass school closures in New Zealand at this point in time. We urge all parents to continue to send their sons to school as normal. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the risk to children remains low. The health, safety and wellbeing of all students and staff at the college is of utmost importance. Today there has been a rumour circulating that one of our staff members is infected with COVID-19,I can confirm that this is just a rumour and most certainly not true. Please discuss the importance of not spreading unfounded gossip with your son, it is not helpful under the present circumstances.

Based on information from the Ministry of Education and Health the following actions are being taken to ensure the safety of your children.

  1. All major secondary school sporting events in NZ have been cancelled.

  2. We are following advice on mass gatherings from the government. With immediate effect we are cancelling all assemblies and masses (we will still have extended form time on Wednesdays, during which time a liturgy will be delivered). Our Holy Thursday Liturgy is also cancelled

  3. The BoT and Senior Leadership Team have established a Pandemic Committee which will advise and respond to developments concerning this virus.

  4. The Senior Leadership Team are reviewing all school trips on a case by case basis

  5. The school is completing a review of its readiness to teach your son’s by distance learning in the event that the school has to close. 

  6. The school is ensuring your son’s are receiving appropriate health information which we would like you to reinforce at home.

  7. We are endeavouring as best as possible, to keep school, “business as usual”. This includes providing a high quality, safe learning environment for your children. It is important that you and your children keep well informed on Covid-19 by viewing the Ministry of Health website

  8. If your child is unwell for any reason please keep him at home. I would also encourage you to stay healthy by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and exercise and staying hydrated.

The situation is rapidly evolving and we are ready to respond to new advice and evidence as we receive it. It is important that you are able to access accurate and up to date information as things evolve. We have established a COVID-19 Information page on the college website for this purpose. You can also access updates on EOTC and school events. I would like to say a very big thank you to you all for engaging with our surveys so quickly, we’ve had an excellent level of response and it really helps us to make the right decisions for our learning community. Please carry on what you’re doing!

Please take care of your own health and protect others by washing your hand frequently, following good hygiene practices and make sure that those who are sick don’t go to school, if they need to take time off to get better, do so.


In The Spirit of Saint John,

Dominic Tester

Acting Principal

Update 16/3

Government announced that public events/mass gatherings (>500 people) should be cancelled. As a result of this School Sport NZ has this evening confirmed that all events on the School Sport NZ national calendar are suspended, including the 2020 Aon Maadi Cup in support of the COVID-19 containment measures.

Ministry of Education has asked to evaluate students capability of accessing online learning in the event of school closures. We are asking that all parents complete the survey (it takes about 30secs) for each of the boys you have at the college. The form will be closing at 10am on Wednesday (18/3) morning. It is really important that we get an accurate picture of our learning community so your support is appreciated.

Update 14/3

You may have seen that the World Health Organisation has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) are confirmed in New Zealand, but the Ministry of Health advise the chance of a widespread outbreak is low. As noted by the Minister of Health, this doesn’t change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impacts to New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

We have 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home.  Their children, four students at Auckland schools, continue to be well and show no symptoms. While we expect that more cases will arise, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. We all have a role to play in this.

At Saint John’s College our pandemic plan is also ready to be implemented if needed. In the mean time we will continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.

With that, there is a good video clip from Nanogirl that will help your children to better understand the virus - YouTube clip - Nanogirl

You may have also seen the Prime Minister sat down with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard, to talk about coronavirus:

Watch on the PM’s Facebook page

Read and watch on the Newshub website

One other action we can all take is to be vigilant about our own health and the health of our children. We will be encouraging staff to stay away from school if they are showing signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same with your children. Colds and flus are common in schools and by staying away, seeking medical attention and practicing good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.


Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing.

Preventing the risk 

You can take some simple steps to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly: 
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
    • after caring for sick people.

If your son is ill, please be vigilant and consider whether he should be staying at home or coming into school.

Go to the Ministry of Health website for more information about preventing the risk: COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health

What to do if you're concerned

If you have the symptoms and have recently been to a country or area of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please call Healthline's COVID-19 line: Free call 0800 358 5453

Other Useful Resources

COVID-19 Government Website

COVID-19 Alert Levels

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health

Talking to Children about COVID-19


Current Level of infection in New Zealand

Coronavirus: Answering Kiwis' most commonly searched questions