Morning Briefing Sept 9: New support for students as Covid closes Auckland school

As a positive Covid-19 case sees a west Auckland school closing its doors in the middle of preliminary exams, the Government has unveiled plans to help the city’s lockdown-affected NCEA students.


The NCEA adjustments mean correspondence school will operate over summer for those Auckland students needing a maximum of ten more credits to pass. There will also be additional bonus credits to recognise work achieved, while the criteria for both excellence and merit endorsements will be dropped from 46 to 44 credits. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says these changes will stand for the rest of the year, meaning students in other parts of the country can benefit if their regions also go back into lockdown.

Yesterday’s announcement builds on the NCEA changes already made in May and June following the nationwide Level 4 lockdown. 

And those weren’t the only changes coming to classrooms yesterday.

New sexuality education guidelines are also being introduced with a greater focus on consent, gender inclusivity and pornography.

The guidance also looks at making schools more inclusive, including gender-neutral uniform options, unisex toilets and not separating class activities into groups based on boys and girls. Those new guidelines can be found here

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Covid closes school

As mentioned above, a west Auckland school has closed its doors for the rest of the week following a positive Covid-19 test for one of its students.

St Dominic's Catholic School is undergoing a deep clean for the next three days, while its sister school, Holy Cross Catholic School, is asking any of its students with siblings at St Dominic's to also stay home as a precaution.

There were six new confirmed Covid-19 cases announced yesterday, with four of those in the community. One of those cases was a girl aged between 15 and 19 years old, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Countdown store in New Lynn's Lynn Mall also closed around 1pm yesterday for a deep clean after learning a positive case had visited there.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has again highlighted New Zealand’s response to the global Covid-19 outbreak, while warning the world needs to be better prepared for the next pandemic.

Those sentiments were shared by World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19 David Nabarro who spoke to Newsroom's Marc Daalder about New Zealand's response to the crisis.

Nabarro says countries are going to have to shift how societies function in order to effectively handle future pandemics. 

Parties make more promises

Labour and National were trading jabs on the campaign trail yesterday, with Judith Collins saying Labour’s pledge to make Matariki a public holiday was "cynical", while Grant Robertson called National's policy announcements "chaotic and inconsistent" with no costings attached.

Both major parties also made more spending promises, with National pledging to upgrade Hawke’s Bay Hospital and Labour releasing its small business plan.

That plan includes extending the small business loan scheme and regulating merchant service fees, such as PayWave charges.

It comes as Stats NZ’s latest Household Labour Force Survey found a quarter of New Zealand’s workers fear they’ll lose their job in the next 12 months.

Democracy in the dark?

As the country counts down to the election, a new report suggests a substantial number of Kiwis need to do their homework before voting next month.

The survey called Democracy in the Dark has revealed gaps in the public’s understanding of New Zealand’s political and civic institutions with close to a third of voters unsure which parties are currently in Parliament.

They might get a better idea when the election debates begin, one of which has been expanded.

The Māori Party is celebrating its inclusion in TVNZ’s multi-party debate after co-leader John Tamihere challenged the broadcaster over its policy to only include parties polling above 3 per cent.

That debate takes place on October 8, while the first leaders debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins will be broadcast on September 22.

Allegations at acclaimed company

Just months after 1 NEWS revealed claims of sexual harassment and bullying at Weta Workshop, current and former employees of its sister company Weta Digital say major changes are needed there, too.

A company tradition known as ‘Porn Friday’ and an X-rated internal mailing list are just some of the allegations being levelled at the acclaimed Wellington production company.

Weta Digital has told 1 NEWS it acknowledges “historical behaviour issues” at the company but says the complaints “do not reflect the Weta Digital of today”. 

Other news of note this morning:

- Attorney-General David Parker says a proposed law introducing random roadside drug testing appears to breach New Zealand's Bill of Rights in several places, while the AA says it wants testing drivers for alcohol to return to previous levels.

- The Herald reports more than 100 ventilators have arrived in New Zealand to help "future-proof" the country's Covid-19 response, with another 200 due to arrive this year.

- Help is now available for Kiwis who paid for overseas holidays ruined by Covid-19.

- Māori bowel cancer patients are disappointed the Ministry of Health won’t drop the national screening programme eligibility age to 50 for Māori and Pasifika.

- Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has announced a plan to ban the sale of elephant ivory in New Zealand, with some exemptions.

- And Seven Sharp reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a rat invasion in our homes. 

And finally...

Two baby golden lion tamarins eating from a food dish at Auckland Zoo. Source: Supplied

Sound the cute animal story alert because Auckland Zoo has been welcoming more babies.

Not long after they introduced their first baby southern white rhino in 20 years, the team at Auckland Zoo have revealed the twin golden lion tamarin babies now in their care.

The tiny, rare primates were born at the zoo in July and have had to be hand-raised by staff after their mother failed to produce milk.

It’s been risky and exhausting business, but these two are now thriving and nearly ready to be reunited with their mum and dad.