The confusion arises because since 2015, the Ministry of Education has referred to homeschoolers as "home educators" as requested by the home education community themselves during the 2013-2015 review of homeschooling. This term more accurately reflects the wider homeschooling community than "homeschoolers." It is, however, very close to the term "home-based educators" which refers to an entirely different sector of education.
Who are "home-based educators"?
Home-based education and care service--
(a) means the provision of education or care, for gain or reward, to children who are under the age of 5 years, or who are aged 5 years but not enrolled at school, in--
- (i) the children’s own home; or
- (ii) the home of the person providing the education or care; or
- (iii) any other home nominated by a parent of the children; and
- (i)under the age of 5 years; or
- (ii)aged 5 years but not enrolled at school
Home educators (aka homeschoolers) on the other hand are parents caring for and teaching their own children who are, if exempt, ages 6 and up (though their younger children, if any, are of course also there); they are not being paid for this. So by no means does the above definition apply to home educating parents, and we are therefore not included in the new mandate.
"I can confirm that the new requirements for testing and vaccination do not apply to parents who home educate their own children. If home educating families come together as a group (eg for trips or sports) then they are subject to the general health order (eg physical distancing, masks) for the alert level in their location."
What about private tutoring of home educated students?
9.1 Workers over the age of 12 years who carry out work at or for an affected education service (including as a volunteer or an unpaid worker) and who--
(a) may have contact with children or students in the course of carrying out that work; or
(b) will be present at the affected education service at a time when children or students are also present
9.2 Providers of a home-based education and care service
affected education service means--
(a) a licensed early childhood service:
(b) a registered school:
(c) a hostel
This means that the order (mandating the vaccine for educators) applies ONLY to those who are in contact with children at/in a (student) hostel, registered school or licensed ECE service (including home-based ones).
Someone who happens to be a teacher or tutor who is in contact with children in a setting unrelated to the above three is NOT mandated to be vaccinated in order to carry out that teaching or tutoring.
They are not directed at private families or private teaching/tutoring settings not linked to an affected education service.
The above remains correct and current. There are NO mandates for homeschoolers to be vaccinated. The roll out of vaccines for 5-11yos has no effect on this. There have been no new health orders passed that affect homeschoolers (home educators) in this regard. There is nothing on the Ministry's website to suggest otherwise. If you hear differently, it is just another one of the rumours flying around. Please disregard and don't spread it. If, however, at any time you come across something on a government website you think puts a different light on things, please contact me with the link. I will check into it and update this page if necessary (as well as let you know what I find).
What does affect homeschoolers in the same way as any other member of the public is restrictions under red/orange settings regarding entry to locations that may require vaccine passes, whether because they are mandated to, or because local councils or venue/business owners have decided to require them. In such cases, homeschooled students aged 12 yrs and 3 mo or over cannot access these venues, even for educational purposes, without a vaccine pass. This is an issue that schools are also wrestling with where they can't take students who don't have the pass to EOTC facilities or camps etc. As the new school year unfolds, I will be watching to see what, if any, changes may occur in that space, that may or may be useful to home educators.
At this time it is unclear whether children aged 5-11 will be issued with vaccine passports and/or require them to enter these venues in the future, as this has not been indicated in legislation or govt websites so far. Currently the government Covid website says only those age 12+ can get a vaccine pass, and that those aged under 12 do not need one. Whether this will change once 5-11yos have had two doses (about March), remains to be seen.
Some folk are expressing concern about the Vaccination Amendment Order 2022, specifically this section:
5 Clause 8 amended (Duties of relevant PCBUs in relation to vaccinations)Replace clause 8(3) with:
(3) A relevant PCBU must not allow an affected person who provides a home-based education and care service to carry out certain work unless satisfied that every person who is--
(a)at least 12 years of age but under 18 years of age in the home where the home-based education and care service is provided is vaccinated; and
(b)18 years of age or older in the home where the home-based education and care service is provided is vaccinated and has received a booster dose.
This does NOT say home educators must be vaccinated! It once again applies only to "home-based education and care services" (ie paid ECE services) as defined in the Education and Training Act 2020 (see the start of this article above). The above clause is amending THIS clause of the Vaccination Health Order, and the only difference it makes is differentiating between 12-17yos in the home where the service is based needing 2 doses and 18yos plus needing a booster. Again, this has nothing to do with families who are (or will be) homeschooling with exemptions (unless one of the parents also happens to be running an Early Childhood service out of their home).