Message to students on 4 February 2020

Message regarding the coronavirus outbreak, sent to all students at 4.00pm on Tuesday 4 February 2020.

We know that you will be very concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and the impact it will have on your studies – particularly those of you still overseas who are affected by the NZ Government’s recent decision to restrict entry into New Zealand for all foreign nationals travelling from, or via, mainland China. These restrictions will be in place for up to 14 days, with reviews every 48 hours. You can read the full Government statement here.

Please be assured that the University is working urgently to assess the situation and its implications for our students and staff. We will do everything in our power to support you with flexible arrangements for study, and to minimise disruption. This includes possible options such as individual study plans, online courses, tutorials and lectures available on Canvas, and course extensions. Obviously, this is a very complex process, and we don’t have all the answers yet, but we will let you know as soon as we can.

Our promise is to ensure no student is disadvantaged because of the circumstances created by coronavirus.

  • To our students still in China and unable to return yet to New Zealand, we know this is a distressing time. We ask that you fill out the online form so that we can contact you directly to develop individual study options. Please also circulate this message to your friends and colleagues in China who are in the same situation, and post it on your social media platforms.
  • To our international students already in New Zealand, or attending Summer Schools and other courses, we recognise this is also a very difficult time for you. Some of you have already taken the precaution of self-isolation for 14-days. The University is committed to supporting you through this period with care and compassion.
  • To our NZ-based students preparing to return for Semester 1, we know you will have your own concerns about the situation and its impact. We will ensure that you are kept well-informed on developments and any decisions made. Regular updates will be posted on the main University website.

We are certainly not underestimating the impact of the virus, but I do urge a sense of perspective. To date there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, and the Ministry of Health advises that the risk of catching the virus is very low, particularly for young people.

Finally, it’s important to recognise that this situation affects us all, not just our international students and colleagues. We should remind ourselves of a powerful message I heard earlier today that ‘viruses don’t discriminate, and nor should we’. I would hope to see tolerance and compassion from everyone in the coming weeks and months. Please look after yourselves, and look after each other.

Professor Stuart McCutcheon