Here is an update on latest developments further to the email you will have just received from the Vice-Chancellor.
We continue to follow the best and latest advice from Federal and State authorities. This advice can and does change often and at short notice. I understand that this can be difficult, but I am reminded everyday of the innovation and responsiveness of our students and staff. I am confident that we are prepared, not only for known likely scenarios, but also to respond with agility to each new challenge.
We are also taking actions to ensure we stay ‘ahead of the curve’ in coming days and weeks and this email outlines important information about changes to delivery of lectures in particular.
We do not run any lectures with more than 500 students, and university activities such as lectures were explicitly excluded by the Government in its announcement last Friday restricting non-essential mass gatherings for groups over 500 people.
The Federal and State Government’s advice at this time is that the risk of infection is still low in our community at this point and continuing education is important for individuals, their families and the community.
We are aware, however, of increasing concerns from students about attending classes at this time and also anticipate that increased restrictions could come in at very short notice.
With this in mind, the Vice-Chancellor announced earlier today that from tomorrow, Tuesday 17th March, all lectures will need to be provided online.
What this means for you is that if your usual lecture is recorded and uploaded onto FLO, then you should not attend the lecture in person from tomorrow. Teaching staff will still deliver their lecture in the regular room at the usual time and place and you can watch these online.
Staff will also increasingly use pre-recorded lectures or other online technologies to ensure you can continue your studies for all other classes.
Staff will review all practical classes, assessments (including exams) and work-integrated learning activities which cannot be done online to ensure these can be conducted in line with recommendations from health authorities relating to social distancing or other requirements if these cannot be conducted online.
Additional training and support is being provided for staff to assist with these changes.
We aim to support all students to continue in their studies during the coming weeks and months as the COVID-19 impacts on our community. We will especially focus on ensuring those who are in the final year of their course can complete their course requirements if at all possible.
For face-to-face classes which are still occurring, please look after yourself, your fellow students and staff by not attending if you are unwell.
I have written to staff today to clarify that students are not penalised as a result of non-attendance for health reasons.
The latest recommendations from the Department of Health are designed to limit the spread of coronavirus in our community and to delay COVID-19 from impacting normal activities.
We all have a role to play.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser
- Use a tissue or the crook of your arm if you sneeze or cough
- Do not attend class if you are unwell
- Follow current advice on self-isolation which can be found here
A number of staff and students have been tested for coronavirus over the past week; thankfully all have tested negative.
The current recommendation from the Dept of Health is that testing is for people who have developed cold or ‘flu-like symptoms’ and have travelled overseas to ANY country in the past 14 days or been in close contact with someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19.
If you are unsure, call the Coronavirus Information Line on 1800 020 080
If you need to be tested you must RING your GP or usual health clinic to confirm when and where the test will be undertaken.
If you have been tested, you will be asked to self-isolate at home until the test results are known which usually takes 1-2 days. If this is the case, please advise your course coordinator so that the reason for your absence is known and we can check you are OK.
If a member of our community does test positive, the Department of Health will work with the University to determine next steps. This may require closing a building or area for 1-2 days to ensure thorough cleaning is undertaken. The Department of Health will work with the University to identify if there are any close contacts amongst staff and students who need to be tested or to self-isolate at home.
We have decided that our Graduations ceremonies scheduled for mid-April will not take place. It is disappointing to cancel these wonderful celebrations, but I trust that our graduating students, families, friends and staff will understand the need to put health and safety first.
We are writing to all those who expected to attend a ceremony to explain how they can receive their academic documents and we hope to arrange a suitable celebration of their achievements at a later date.
The Federal Government has announced that:
- Everyone entering Australia from ANY country on or after 16th March will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days upon return to Australia.
The University is currently contacting all students who are on study experiences overseas and is making arrangements for them to return back to Australia.
Staff who are overseas will also be contacted in coming days to assess their situation and make arrangements to return to Australia where possible and considered necessary.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has advised against ALL International travel.
All non-essential international travel on University business by Flinders staff or students is banned at this point.
Whilst not currently restricted, you are recommended to reconsider your need for domestic travel and whether the purpose of your trip could be achieved in other ways.
Ongoing updates, information and support
Please check our student website for regular updates.
The website will include the information in this email, links to resources and to the recordings of the information sessions held in the past week.
Take care and look after each other.