2022 Teaching Settings to respond to Omicron variant

Thursday 3 February 2022

In line with the Vice-Chancellor’s announcement on 3 February 2022, in response to the anticipated widespread outbreak of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in our community, most teaching, coursework assessment, and the majority of tests will be conducted online for at least the first half of Semester 1 2022, unless an exemption is approved by a faculty Business Continuity Planning (BCP) committee. This policy will be reviewed to consider teaching approaches for the second half of Semester One in time to allow staff and students to accommodate any changes.

Teaching activities including lectures, tutorials, laboratories and workshops, and other group-based activities

Decisions about exemptions to default online delivery mode of teaching will be made by faculty BCP committees including the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) to achieve the best pedagogical approach for each individual course, taking into account the latest public health and infection control requirements, including the University Vaccination and Testing Policy.

Any exemptions for campus-based teaching activities must meet all of the criteria outlined below:

  • Demonstration that the acquisition and practice of practical skills cannot be achieved by remote learning, or that a physical event or the use of physical resources from a University site is necessary for the continuation of student progress, or that the approach is the best pedagogical approach for the course.
  • Consideration has been given to the consistency of activities within and across programmes at least within the faculty.
  • Processes for referral of students to support services including Te Papamanaaki |Campus Care, aegrotat/compassionate consideration / coursework extensions etc. are understood by all staff.[1]
  • Local assessments have been completed for the suitability and safety of each learning activity, using health and safety guidance to ensure that all Covid-19 restrictions can be met, including a maximum of 100 people or the maximum capacity of a space (whichever is the lesser), disinfectant spray packs, appropriate signage, instructions for attendance recording and other requirements are met.
  • The proposed activity is supported by any involved teaching and non-teaching staff (e.g.
    technicians) as appropriate.
  • For any activity an online alternative is available for students to take without being
    disadvantaged, for any students who are unable or unwilling to attend in person.
  • Appropriate contingency plans have been developed to accommodate staff or student absence, changes to any Government or University requirements or localised lockdowns, due to Covid-19 or other factors.
  • Any confirmed onsite activities will ensure appropriate reminders to attending
    students and participating staff of their personal responsibilities including vaccination requirements, face coverings, use of the NZ COVID Tracer app, ensuring appropriate physical distancing and staying home if unwell or required to isolate.
  • A register of all approved on-campus activities must be maintained through BCP leads and made available centrally to support appropriate security, building access and other services. 

[1] Note, processes and guidance for streamlining aegrotat/compassionate consideration and coursework extension requests are being developed and will be communicated before the beginning of semester.


Work-integrated learning, practicums, placements where students are spending time in a workplace or in the community

These activities may be approved to proceed by faculty BCP committees subject to management within the Covid-related restrictions being applied to that workplace (which may include vaccination and/or testing requirements) and the University Vaccination and Testing Policy. Approvals for these activities must be recorded through BCP leads and made available centrally.


Assessment

Assessments normally conducted in person will be conducted online, typically at the same time as they were scheduled for on-campus. Students will be advised of any scheduling changes through Canvas.

Courses that have been given an exemption to have teaching activities in person may also have assessed activities in person, provided that there is an online alternative available for students to take without being disadvantaged, for any students who are unable or unwilling to attend in person.

Faculty BCP committees including Associate Deans (Learning and Teaching) may approve exceptions for the on-campus invigilated delivery of clinical, practical or performance assessments where there is no online alternative, provided that the committee is satisfied the assessment can be performed safely and in line with all Government and University Health and Safety and Covid-19 requirements. A contingency plan must also be approved to accommodate staff or student absence, or changes to any Government or University requirements or localised lockdowns, due to Covid-19 or other factors. Students affected will be advised before the course commences of the requirements for that course.


Field trips

These may be approved to proceed by faculty BCP committees proceed subject to appropriate risk assessments, with public health and infection control measures, travel restrictions and other government requirements being met. Approval are to be recorded through BCP leads and made available centrally.


Transition Arrangements for Summer School, Quarter One, and other teaching activities occurring before Semester 1 officially commences

Any teaching activities that are occurring or will occur before 28 February 2022 may continue in person following the current University Red settings for teaching but must be prepared to move to online when the Government announces Phase Two of the Omicron response or if there are changes to Government or TEC guidance around the Covid-19 Protection Framework Plan (subject to the exceptions above).

Any course may move to an online delivery mode earlier, in consultation with the faculty Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching), considering the pedagogical approach for the course and student welfare. Changes to delivery mode should be communicated with students enrolled in a course through Canvas.