The Ministry of Education is formulating plans if temporary school closures are needed in the Bay while aged care facilities tighten health protocols as coronavirus fears deepen.
• Coronavirus: Tauranga tourism hurting after pause in cruise ship season
• Coronavirus travel restrictions: Port of Tauranga to lose 15 cruise ship visits with ban
• Man charged with murder of two Tauranga men granted name suppression
• Tauranga shooting victim farewelled by Head Hunters
Katrina Casey, the Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, said in a statment that schools were planning for temporary closures amid wider plans for Covid-19 prevention.
"Over the next two days, we are contacting all schools and kura to understand what support they or their students will need in this situation."
The ministry was in a position to respond quickly, she said, and it was working closely with regional health authorities to support schools as needed should a case or cases occur.
Acting chairman of Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, Shane Cunliffe, said yesterdayit was "business as usual" until further information was received from the Ministry of Education.
He said schools continued to stress the importance of personal hygiene and to stay at home if students or staff were not completely well.
Databases recording travel arrangements of staff, students and their families had also been set up to track "potential interactions", Cunliffe said.
He said online learning was one option being explored if schools were closed.
Pillans Point School principal Matt Simeon said a staff meeting had been held to discuss personal hygiene and the cleanliness of classrooms. He said the school was working through how to provide learning for students if schools were shut down.
"It's about day by day, hour by hour following advice from the professionals as they give it."
Post Primary Teachers' Association president Jack Boyle said members were "very concerned" about the pandemic and were receiving good advice from the Ministries of Health and Education.
The Ministry of Education has also issued advice on how to talk to children about Covid-19. This included giving age-appropriate answers to questions, reassuring children if they have not been in contact with a confirmed case and to monitor social media and television.
A University of Waikato spokesperson said it was following the Ministry of Health advice and was increasing the provision of online classes.
Meanwhile, Metlifecare chief executive Glen Sowry said only friends and family were permitted to visit care homes and visitors and, once onsite, visitors were told to maintain distance and practice correct cough and handwashing protocol.
All visitors were required to complete a health declaration form to confirm they were well upon arrival and were not at risk of carrying the virus, he said. All large group visits had been cancelled or postponed.
Villages were also keeping a record of all visitors in case public health officials required this information to track and trace contacts.
Bupa Villages and Aged Care New Zealand managing director Carolyn Cooper said all visitors were required to use hand sanitiser upon entry at sites and new sign-in processes with a health declaration form had been introduced.
Althorp Village manager Claire Keen said the village had distributed informational flyers on how residents could protect themselves.
According to the village's guidelines, residents were told to not shake hands or hug. People were urged to use disposable tissues instead of handkerchiefs, use hand sanitiser each time they entered and left the village, and to wash their hands when they returned home.
Retirement Village Association executive director John Collyns said residents in retirement villages were "active, independent older people" and were free to come and go as they saw fit.
The association had sent to member operators a factsheet on how residents could protect themselves from Covid-19, along with a set of guidelines for village operators on measures they could take to protect residents, he said.
According to the Ministry of Health, staff who are in contact with a resident who has Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes and within one metre needed to wear personal protective equipment, the ministry said.
Residents of aged care facilities should practise good hand hygiene and wear a facemask if they had respiratory symptoms.
The ministry said aged care providers should advise all visitors and staff to stay away from a facility if they are ill or had cold or flu symptoms within the 48 hours before the visit or had visited or transited through hot-spot countries.