Early learning services, schools and tertiary education providers in the South are itching to get going again after the Government announced they will all reopen at alert level 2.

Otago Secondary Principals' Association president Linda Miller said secondary schools would be relieved to get pupils, particularly those in years 11-13, back in class.

"I was very relieved that there was no mention of the 1m distancing at schools that had previously been a feature of alert level 2," she said yesterday.

"This would have required massive disruption to the normal operation of schools to implement, would have meant many schools could not operate for all year levels, and would have been impossible to police."


She said guidelines from the Ministry of Education provided common-sense information that was "realistic and workable".

"Obviously, all schools will be operating with heightened awareness of the importance of physical distancing, as practicable, and vigilance around safe hygiene practices.

"Additional cleaning protocols, no large gatherings and changes to some practices to reduce contact will all be features of life under alert level 2."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Otago Primary Principals' Association president Shelley Wilde was pleased that schools would only reopen under level 2 if the Ministry of Health confirmed it was safe.

She was also pleased any reopening would not happen midweek, giving staff more time to prepare.

Dunedin Kindergarten Association general manager Christine Kerr said the move to open early learning centres under level 3 had gone well, and teachers had enjoyed some interaction with children online.

However, they were itching to work face-to-face with the children again.


Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds said she expected up to 90 per cent of the organisation's courses to resume in relative normality under level 2.

"Practical components, such as workshops and kitchens for training chefs, will start to hum again," she said.

Simmonds said nursing and business students could have a mixture of on-campus and off-campus tuition to create enough space for them.

Personal protective equipment would be needed for teaching hairdressing and beauty therapy, she said.

Staff had been planning for the past 10 days to work out which classes could likely return.

Planned cultural events, such as celebrating Matariki and Diwali, and orientation activities were in jeopardy, however.

A spokeswoman for the University of Otago said the university expected to receive more detailed information from the Tertiary Education Commission and it would take time to work through implications.

"The return to work and to study at the university will be well managed," she said.

Otago Polytechnic deputy chief executive Megan Gibbons said the institute planned to have more staff and students on campus at level 2 and it was working through the details of that.

- with Grant Miller