University of Sydney update on coronavirus management plan

The University of Sydney is providing regular updates about its plan to manage the health risks associated with the novel coronavirus (n-CoV) as required.

Update: 4pm Monday 3 February 2020

Today Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence wrote to all staff, to advise them that Semester 1 will commence on 24 February as planned. His full message is below.

Dear colleagues,

Over the weekend the Australian Government suspended all travel from mainland China to Australia in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This measure applies to everyone except Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families, until further notice.

This news means that a significant number of our students may not be able to join us for the start of semester as hoped. Naturally, many of our students will find this news upsetting and will be looking to the University for support.

I wrote to all continuing students from China on Sunday offering reassurance that we will do all we can to help them continue their studies and that we look forward to welcoming them as soon as they are able to travel. We will shortly be communicating with both continuing and commencing students from China to better understand their individual needs.

In order to minimise disruption to the rest of the University community, Semester 1 will commence on 24 February as planned. Please continue to consult the  staff intranet  for advice specific to staff, and the  University website  for student-related information.

I am sure that you share my concern for those students and staff affected by this decision and that you will do what you can to assist any members of our community, whether here or overseas, during this uncertain time. I would like to thank colleagues who are working tirelessly to support our students during a particularly challenging period.

As we prepare for the return of students, it is important that we all adhere to the  Australian Government Department of Health advice  regarding basic hygiene practices and that we keep up to date with current guidelines. While the risk in Australia remains low, we are protecting the health of staff and students by taking extra precautions such as provision of hand sanitisers, additional cleaning protocols and information posters which you will begin to see around campus.

We will, of course, continue to keep you updated as further information becomes available. As always, please take care of yourselves and each other.

Yours,

Michael

Dr Michael Spence AC
Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Update: 8.45pm Saturday 1 February 2020

We note the announcement made today about entry restrictions to Australia and are considering its implications. The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority. Since the outbreak occurred, we’ve been closely monitoring the situation, liaising with other universities and taking advice from the Federal Government and NSW Department of Health.

A high-level staff response team has been convened to monitor and manage the situation on a daily basis.  

We’ve been communicating directly with students (current and commencing) who may have been in the affected regions. We have asked them to provide us with an update on their circumstances and offered support.

Last week we announced that we had implemented the following measures:

  • Stopped all student and non-essential staff travel to China and Hong Kong until further notice;
  • Allowed all students the flexibility to enrol up to two weeks after the start of semester (by day 1 of week 3, Monday 9 March) unless there are exceptional circumstances which would prevent them from completing the course; and
  • Offered commencing students who have been impacted and unable to travel to commence their studies the option to defer or have their fees refunded.

We’re working to ensure disruptions to all of our students, both commencing and continuing, are minimised as far as possible - including looking carefully at the viability of offering online lectures as one option for students in China.

We will continue communicating with our students and staff on our approach, including available support, throughout this unsettling period.

Update: 12 noon Thursday 30 January 2020

Further to yesterday’s update, our recent correspondence with all staff and current and commencing students also provides revised health advice in line with the updated  guidance for universities provided by the federal Department of Health. 

In particular:

  • Students who have recently travelled to Hubei Province or have been in contact with a person infected with novel coronavirus virus must self-isolate for 14 days  after leaving the province or having had contact with an infected person. We will be contacting these students to offer support.
  • Self-quarantine does not currently apply to university students arriving from the rest of China or any other country unless they are unwell or have had contact with a person who has been infected.

We continue to advise our community to follow the basic hygiene guidelines provided by the  NSW Health fact sheet  and to refer to  guidance provided by the federal government Department of Health. 

Staff requiring additional assistance or arrangements should talk to their manager as these will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Staff can also access our  Employee Assistance Program  for support if needed.

Update: 4.20pm Wednesday 29 January 2020

The University of Sydney will write to all staff and current and commencing students, providing an update on precautionary measures we are taking in response to the novel coronavirus.

We note the current risk to staff and students in Sydney remains low, however the safety of our staff and students is our priority.

Key updates for our community are:

  • Following Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advice to reconsider travel to China, there will be no student or non-essential staff travel to China and Hong Kong until further notice (transiting via Hong Kong airport is considered safe).
  • All students will be allowed to enrol up to two weeks after the start of semester (by day 1 of week 3, Monday 9 March) unless there are exceptional circumstances which would prevent them from completing the course.
  • Commencing students who have been impacted and are unable to travel to commence their studies will have the option to defer or have their fees refunded.
  • We will try and support any continuing student who is able to demonstrate that their studies have been constrained by being unable to leave the Hubei province or coming into contact with an affected person. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis to support students in these circumstances.

Our community should continue to follow the basic hygiene guidelines provided by the  NSW Health fact sheet  and continue to refer to  guidance provided by the federal government Department of Health. 

Staff requiring additional assistance or arrangements should talk to their manager as these will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Staff can also access our  Employee Assistance Program  for support if needed.

University of Sydney statement: Tuesday 28 January 2020

The safety and wellbeing of all our students is our highest priority.

We’re closely monitoring the situation, liaising with other universities and taking advice from the Federal Government and NSW Department of Health. A high-level staff response team has been convened to monitor and manage the situation on a daily basis.  

Since the outbreak occurred,  we’ve been communicating directly with students  (current and commencing) who may have been in the affected regions. We have asked them to provide us with an update on their circumstances and have offered support.

Students still in China have been asked to follow the advice of the Chinese Government and to avoid travel if they are ill. We have assured them that we will support them if they are unable to travel to Sydney in time for the start of semester one on 24 February 2020.

We are currently assessing a range of different enrolment options and more information about those options will be released soon.

We have advised staff and students to avoid travelling to the Hubei province until further notice and are assessing options for students due to commence placement or study exchanges to China in semester one.

On campus, staff at our  University Health Service  have been providing advice and support. As  NSW Health has directed , students or staff who are feeling unwell are being advised to phone a general practitioner or their local hospital for information and not to visit in person.

We’ve also reminded staff and students to follow the basic hygiene advice below to stay healthy:

  • Using soap or alcohol-based hand wash frequently and washing hands for at least 20 seconds each time;
  • Covering their mouth or nose if sneezing or coughing with a flexed elbow and disposing of tissues immediately,
  • Avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell, including avoiding areas where there are people sneezing
  • Not attending study or work if they’re unwell.

This site uses cookies and analysis tools to improve the usability of the site. More information. |