Covid-19: information for our community
The University will deliver teaching via online learning mode for a two-week period from Monday 21 Sept to Friday 2 October.
Thursday 17 September
In yesterday's 1.00pm update, the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, responded to a journalist's question about the University of Auckland's plans for teaching on campus next week. Dr Bloomfield stated that lectures and classes involving more than ten students are not permitted under the current alert level settings.
This has created a degree of confusion among our students and staff, adding somewhat to the level of anxiety, which I would like to address.
Throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, we have closely followed the rules set down by the Government, and in particular from the Ministry of Education (MoE) which publishes detailed guidelines for universities and other Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) on what is permitted under the different alert level settings (you can read a summary of the guidelines, and the full details). Importantly, we have also taken a careful and considered approach to balance the health and well-being of our staff and students, alongside continuing to focus our collective efforts on learning and teaching and research, and the overall student experience.
Our plans for the rest of Semester Two were based on current Government guidelines, and took account of our advice and guidance to staff and students to date.
I have been asked to make clear the MoE guidelines that are currently in place. The link to those guidelines is embedded above. In summary, the main points are that:
- the limits on the sizes of gatherings do not apply to education-related activities on a TEO campus;
- there are no size restrictions for lectures and classes, though TEOs should limit capacity to enable physical distancing of one metre, where possible; and
- lectures and classes of more than 100 students are allowed.
The Ministry of Education has confirmed the above guidance is unchanged, with other TEOs, including other universities in Auckland and around the country, continuing to operate on the basis of the TEO exemption.
However, yesterday's comment from the Director-General of Health indicates a view that the TEO exemption does not apply under the current alert level for Auckland. This obviously has immediate implications for the University's plans to resume on-campus teaching after the mid-Semester break.
To ensure certainty and predictability for our students and staff, and to help manage the confusion and anxiety that has clearly been signalled to me, we have made the decision to continue in online learning mode for a two-week period from Monday 21 Sept to Friday 2 October, regardless of alert levels. We are also seeking clarification from the relevant Ministries on the differences between yesterday's statement from the Director-General of Health and the level-based guidelines we have all been asked to follow.
With the mid-Semester break ending this week, I realise this is very late notice for many people. Plans for teaching on campus next week will now have to be rethought, including scheduled tests and exams that were due to be held in person on campus. Your teaching staff will be in contact with you soon about the arrangements for your classes for the next two weeks.
In addition, I know from the feedback I have received in recent weeks that many of our students have been looking forward to returning to campus next week, particularly those who have found online learning challenging for various reasons. I realise that for some of our students learning online and in environments that are not conducive to learning has been an enormous struggle. I want to assure those students that we will do all that we can to support you until we can fully resume our on-campus experience.
It has been my intention to provide accurate and clear guidance on our responses to the pandemic during the past six months, and in a way that prioritises well-being. This continues to be the case. It is imperative that the University, and its community, is able to continue to make and communicate its plans with clarity and confidence, following the guidelines laid down by the Government. I am hopeful that this next two-week review period will provide the opportunity to prepare our response and to communicate as early as possible our intentions for the period beyond 2 October.
Kia pai tō rā
Professor Dawn Freshwater
Community quick links (some access restricted)
Impact on University life
To accommodate the non-teaching week at the end of March, Semester One finished Monday 6 July, with consequential adjustment to other dates, including the Semester Two examination period.
What do I need to know?
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
What should I do if I think I have the virus?
If you are unwell and you have symptoms (see MoH Covid-19 symptoms) then you should contact Healthline at 0800 358 5453.
What can I do to protect myself?
New Zealand support services / information
New Zealand Government
New Zealand Ministry of Health online
New Zealand Ministry of Health dedicated coronavirus helpline
Note: If you want to find out about Covid-19, please look at the online resources listed above first.
0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for overseas SIMs).
The 0800 number is free to call, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will be staffed by members of the National Telehealth Service with interpreters on hand to help with translation.
Immigration New Zealand Contact Centre coronavirus-specific helpline
0508 225 288 (within NZ) or +64 9 952 1679 (outside NZ).
Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas