The Prime Minister announced this morning (18 March) a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
While universities, along with schools, have been ruled out of the measure, Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said universities were taking prudent steps to safeguard students, staff and their communities.
Universities had planned for a wide range of contingencies, including restrictions on internal gatherings, and have announced immediate, practical changes. These include:
- restricting face-to-face teaching;
- working to ensure as many lectures and tutorials are available online;
- tailoring the physical learning environment to meet the new social distancing guidelines;
- assessing whether practical classes and laboratory sessions need to be amended or rescheduled; and
- adjusting the academic calendar, including rescheduling graduation ceremonies, exams and assessments.
“Things are moving very quickly, and all universities have mobilised staff and students in what is a national effort,” Ms Jackson said.
“None of this is easy and we recognise the challenges faced by our students and staff. But it is vital that as individuals and institutions we work together to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect the community. People’s lives depend on how we respond now.”