Early Learning Bulletin | He Pānui Kōhungahunga Issue 83 8 June | Pipiri 2023

Issue 83 

8 June | Pipiri 2023


COVID-19 or respiratory syncytial virus outbreaks over winter

To recognise the pressure on early learning services and medical services during the winter months due to a COVID-19 or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) outbreak, we are making temporary changes to the following funding rules to help relieve the stress during this time. Note that these changes are temporary, and for the June to September 2023 funding period.

Absence rule exemption


In an event that a child is absent for more than three weeks due to COVID-19 or RSV, a service can apply for an exemption from the three-week rule to continue to receive funding. Under normal circumstances, to access this exemption, an EC13 form (supporting medical certificate) must be completed by a medical practitioner. EC13: Medical Certificate to support application for exemption from absence rule for Special and/or Health Needs


However, for the period June to September 2023, if a child is not attending because they are:

  • unwell with a likely RSV infection
  • vulnerable to respiratory illness, or
  • advised by health authorities or medical practitioner to stay home due to illness in their household.

An EC13 form can be completed by the child’s parent or guardian, in the place of a medical practitioner. The service must also complete an EC12 (absence rule exemption form) confirming the child’s enrolment details and keep both documents on file.

EC12: Application for exemption from absence rule for special and/or health needs Where absence due to COVID-19 or RSV continues for a period of six weeks or more, parents need to re-confirm the situation in writing. This can be done in the form of an email or text message. Parents do not need to re-sign the EC13. The maximum period a child can be exempted from the absence rules is 12 weeks. We encourage any services severely affected by RSV infections to contact their local Te Mahau office for support. Local Te Mahau offices – Ministry of Education

Emergency closure


We have widened the funding settings for emergency closures to cover staff who have COVID or winter flu-like illnesses. Early learning services can apply for emergency closure if they are unable to meet minimum staffing requirements because their staff are sick with COVID-19 or winter flu-like illnesses. You will need to contact your regional office to confirm your emergency closure and gain approval. Local Te Mahau offices – Ministry of Education

Heads-up | He kupu puaki

Funding absence rules reminder

Normal absence rules


As we approach the winter months with the potential for increased illness in services, please ensure that your teams and communities understand the normal absence funding rules as outlined in the ECE Funding Handbook. ECE Funding Handbook – Ministry of Education Under the normal absence rules, services can claim funding for hours permanently enrolled children do not attend, providing that certain conditions are met. These funding rules recognise that absences do occur, and services should not be unreasonably penalised because of this. Absence funding support for when a child is away includes:

  • The three-week rule for continuous absence, which provides funding for three weeks of continuous absence regardless of reason.
  • The frequent absence rule, which allows for three months of irregular attendance before an enrolment agreement needs to be changed.


6-5 Three-week rule for continuous absence – Ministry of Education 6-7 The frequent absence rule – Ministry of Education Permanently enrolled children with special needs or health problems may be exempt from the frequent absence rule or funded for continuous absences beyond the three-week period. Services seeking an exemption from the absence rules must complete the EC12 and EC13 forms where applicable. EC12: Application for exemption from absence rule for special and/or health needs EC13: Medical Certificate to support application for exemption from absence rule for special and/or health needs. These two forms, along with supporting documentation, must be retained by the service.Services must provide these documents to us or our resourcing auditors on request. Services should consider how the normal absence rule protects a child’s funding claim before applying an absence exemption as this may reduce the need to complete EC12 or EC13 forms for absences. Short-term absences related to winter-illness or COVID-19 do not always require an absence exemption.

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