VC update on the coronavirus - 7 February 2020

7 February 2020

Dear colleagues, 

I want to give you an update on novel coronavirus and how the University is coordinating a response to support our staff and students. I want to reassure you that a large team of our academic and professional staff are working hard behind the scenes to minimise disruption to our community and to ensure we look after our community with compassion and flexibility. 

Most importantly, I want to emphasise that the risk at ANU and in Canberra is extremely small. There are currently no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in our community and none at ANU. 

All staff and students who need to undertake isolation are doing so with support from the University. Isolation is a precautionary measure, not an indication someone is ill. Anyone with symptoms is treated with appropriate protocol at the hospital.  

I want to reassure you all that your safety is our highest priority. We are actively working with health authorities and have consistently followed their advice to keep our community safe. To reiterate, that means anybody who needs to be isolated is in isolation. And anyone you see on campus has already met all the necessary health requirements. 

As a University, we are determined to respond with compassion and come together to support each other. I am equally determined that any anxiety related to coronavirus does not give rise to any form of marginalisation, discomfort or discrimination against any individual or groups within our community. As I have said before, viruses don’t discriminate and neither do we. 

Professor Grady Venville, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) is leading our coronavirus taskforce has provided a detailed update, which you can read here. In it, she advises: 

  • Human Resources have contacted all staff who were in China when the travel restrictions were implemented on 1 February to assist in their return to Australia. Staff members who have returned from or transited through China from 1 February need to stay at home and not come to the campus.  
  • Information Technology Services (ITS) are currently testing software for our students in China. This will help us to know how we can provide courses online which are usually taught on campus. We will let you know the recommended platforms and applications after the testing process has completed. 
  • The Associate Deans of Educations have met and provided several study options for students impacted by the travel restrictions. This may involve a number of changes including, but not limited to, making content including tutorials available online, modifying and delaying assessments and practical activities until students return to Australia, delivering Winter and Summer intensives to allow students to catch up, and using recorded lectures from 2019. 
  • We are currently developing a care package for students impacted by the coronavirus travel restrictions. We are considering such things as possible compensation for tuition fees, accommodation and travel and we’ll let you know of the package in coming days. 
  • We’ve made accommodation available for students who have returned from China who need to undertake isolation. This is a handful of students who are in good health and good spirits. 

Staff that have not travelled but are concerned about the virus and are considered to be in an at risk group may request access to leave and/or to work from home and should contact their supervisor and the Work Environment Group on +61 2 612 55208 to discuss options.   

If you have any questions resulting from the measures being put in place to ensure the safety and security of our staff, please call +61 2 612 53346 (Option One) to discuss options with a senior HR representative. 

This is a difficult and distressing time and we will work as a community to support all our students and staff. Let’s keep taking care of each other in the same spirit that we have used to meet our fair share of other challenges in this unusual summer. 


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