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decision for mask wearing at NZ Schools

Erika Whittome made this Official Information request to Ministry of Education

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From: Erika Whittome

Dear Ministry of Education,

There are Ministry of Education bulletins here https://bulletins.education.govt.nz, and
these bulletins are encouraging mask wearing at schools. On 24th Mar 2022 your bulletin said:
“At Orange and Green, the use of face masks in tertiary settings is encouraged but not required.”

https://bulletins.education.govt.nz/bull...

The Ministry appears to be ignoring section 11 (3) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021:
3) A person is not required to wear a face covering or medical-grade face covering—
(a) if the person—
(i) is under the age of 12 years;

Many schools this year have told children year 4 and up to wear a mask. ie age 8 and 9 years and older up which disregards this exemption in the order about children under the age 12 years.
1. Please describe how you encourage this, as opposed to it being "not required".
2. When was the decision to encourage masks at schools made? Kindly share the minutes for this decision.
3. Was S3(a) considered in this decision, i.e. school children under 12 years old?
4. Was the Crimes Act 1961 S189a considered in this decision? I will copy and paste S189a:

Strangulation or suffocation
----------------------------------------
Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who intentionally or recklessly impedes another person’s normal breathing, blood circulation, or both, by doing (manually, or using any aid) all or any of the following:
(a) blocking that other person’s nose, mouth, or both:

5. Were the Heath and Safety at Work Regulations 2016 considered in this decision for the Ministry of Education to encourage staff at schools to wear a mask? According to these regulations, the PPE must be appropriate to the hazard. Was the size of aerosol particles considered and the size of a corona virus cell also considered for the types of masks encouraged?
6. According to these regulations, S 17 (3) says that incorrect PPE may result in fines up to 10k for the PCBU and up to $50k for any other person:
Please see the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (LI 2016/13) (as at 01 December 2020): S17 Other duties of PCBU relating to personal protective equipment.

Yours faithfully,

Erika Whittome

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From: Enquiries National

Tēnā koe mō tō īmēra mai ki te Tāhuhu o Thank you for your email to the
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From: Enquiries National

Dear Erika

Thank you for your request for information below. The Ministry will consider and respond to your request in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act).

Under section 15(1) of the Act, we are required to make and inform you of our decision on your request as soon as reasonably practicable and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which your request is received. You can therefore expect to receive our decision on your request on or before 16 August 2022. If more than 20 working days are needed due to the potential workload and/or consultations involved in answering your request, we will notify you accordingly.

Please note, the Ministry may publicly release on our website the response to your request five days after you have received it. Any personal information will be removed.

In the interim, if you have any questions about your request, please email [email address].

Kind regards
Enquiries National Team | Ministry of Education | IB
33 Bowen Street, Wellington

education.govt.nz

He mea tārai e mātou te mātauranga kia rangatira ai, kia mana taurite ai ōna huanga
We shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes

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From: Enquiries National


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Tēnā koe Erika 

 

Thank you for your email of 19 July 2022 to the Ministry of Education
requesting the following information:  

 

Many schools this year have told children year 4 and up to wear a mask. ie
age 8 and 9 years and older up which disregards this exemption in the
order about children under the age 12 years. 

1.     Please describe how you encourage this, as opposed to it being "not
required". 

2.     When was the decision to encourage masks at schools made? Kindly
share the minutes for this decision. 

3.     Was S3(a) considered in this decision, i.e. school children under
12 years old? 

4.     Was the Crimes Act 1961 S189a considered in this decision?  

5.     Were the Heath and Safety at Work Regulations 2016 considered in
this decision for the Ministry of Education to encourage staff at schools
to wear a mask? According to these regulations, the PPE must be
appropriate to the hazard. Was the size of aerosol particles considered
and the size of a corona virus cell also considered for the types of masks
encouraged? 

6.     According to these regulations, S 17 (3) says that incorrect PPE
may result in fines up to 10k for the PCBU and up to $50k for any other
person: 

Please see the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace
Management) Regulations 2016 (LI 2016/13) (as at 01 December 2020): S17
Other duties of PCBU relating to personal protective equipment. 

 

Your request has been considered under the Official Information Act 1982
(the Act).  

 

The Government recognises this is a challenging time for everyone in New
Zealand and that the COVID-19 environment is evolving rapidly. As you may
know, the Government regularly reviews the COVID Protection Framework
(CPF) settings and the measures in place at Orange to ensure our COVID-19
response is fit-for-purpose and proportionate to the risks.  

 

The requirements around face coverings under this setting were established
on 18 October 2021, when Cabinet agreed to move from the Alert Level
system and were designed to match the requirements under the previous
Alert Level 2. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)
review the CPF settings, and settings were implemented by Cabinet
decision, based on Public Health advice at the time. 

 

The Cabinet paper confirming this decision has been proactively released
here:
[1]covid19.govt.nz/assets/Proactive-Releases/Alert-levels-and-restrictions/10-Dec-2021/Vaccine-Certificates-and-CPF/COVID-19-A-Strategy-for-a-Highly-Vaccinated-New-Zealand.pdfV2.pdf 

 

The recommendation to require masks indoors is in addition to other key
health measures that help to keep everyone safe and slow down transmission
of illnesses. These include good ventilation, hand hygiene, cough and
sneeze etiquette, high vaccination rates in the community, and staying
home when sick.  

 

We acknowledge higher levels of winter illnesses in communities, combined
with an increased number of cases of COVID-19, have been putting pressure
on schools. The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education (the
Ministry) have now strongly recommended that schools and kura require
masks to be worn by staff and ākonga in Years 4 and above in all indoor
settings for the first four weeks of Term 3. Schools can decide to include
health measures in their school policies that are additional to the public
health order and advice provided by the Ministry. 

 

There will be situations where masks will not be practical or appropriate,
and schools are encouraged to use their discretion and make decisions
based on their risk assessment and context where teaching and learning may
be significantly impacted using masks. Further advice about whether it is
necessary to extend this mask policy beyond the first four weeks of Term 3
will be provided to schools in due course through the School Bulletin.
[2]bulletins.education.govt.nz/ 

 

The Ministry of Health provides clear advice about how to safely wear a
face mask and when this may not be appropriate, including that they should
not be worn by people that are not able to remove the mask themselves or
when they may have difficulty breathing. Considerations relating to the
safety and impact of masks would have been produced by the Ministry of
Health.  

 

Health advice around the use of face masks can be found at the following
link:
[3]health.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-public/covid-19-use-face-masks-community. 

 

The Ministry of Education is providing masks, including child-sized masks,
for learners in schools and kura from now until the end of the year, for
those who are unable to provide their own. Adult-sized masks will continue
to be provided to schools for staff. 

 

Please note, the Ministry now proactively publishes OIA responses on our
website. As such, we may publish this response on our website after five
working days. Your name and contact details will be removed. 

 

Thank you again for your email. You have the right to ask an Ombudsman to
review this decision. You can do this by writing to
[4][email address] or Office of the Ombudsman, PO Box 10152,
Wellington 6143. 

 

 

Nāku noa, nā 

 

 

Enquiries National Team | Ministry of Education - TW
[5]education.govt.nz  |  [6]Follow us on Twitter: @educationgovtnz

[7]Te TD huhu o te MD tauranga

 

 

 

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