Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt announced this afternoon that the ANU will pause the arrival of students and staff from COVID-19 affected areas. The pause of the Davey Lodge quarantine program comes as 97 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in NSW today, with 29 being in the community for the entire time they were infectious. 34 of these cases have no known source as of today. NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian warned today that Saturday’s cases would be higher, and some of these new cases are the result of transmissions two weeks ago.
Schmidt elaborated in his blog and later email that students and staff wishing to travel to the ACT from NSW must apply for an exemption through ACT Health. Applications from on-campus students will be considered only on compassionate or compelling grounds. Applications from students/staff living off campus will be considered if they have a longstanding lease or ACT Drivers License. In summary, living on campus at the ANU will no longer be sufficient grounds for exemption from the travel ban.
Prior to this, students were able to apply to ACT Health to quarantine at UniLodge’s Davey Lodge. This program has now been paused, and Schmidt has not mentioned if a replacement program will be implemented. However, his email this evening stated that the ANU is in negotiations with ACT Health to plan for the return of ANU students and staff in COVID-19 hotspots.
Schmidt urged all staff and students considering applying for an exemption through ACT Health to re-consider whether they need to travel to the ACT. In his email, he explained that anyone wishing to travel to the ACT should abide by their states’ and the ACT’s own restrictions first and foremost. For people in Greater Sydney, the NSW government has ruled that they should not leave the area. The ANU is also asking anyone in Victoria to abide by the snap lockdown, and to not travel outside the state.
Regarding students and staff currently in the ACT, Schmidt noted that the ANU Campus alert status remains at blue, a low-level alert.
Semester 2 of this year will be taught in a hybrid mode of in-person and online. It appears that Bush Week will also follow the hybrid style of O-Week, and will include a mix of in-person and online activities.
Schmidt has also promised that the ANU’s support for students disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak will include “…providing access to bursary assistance with costs you have incurred, and access to wellbeing support.” However, Schmidt did not comment on the refusal of ANU accommodation, Halls and Lodges, to cancel rent contracts on the grounds that getting caught in a lockdown or COVID-19 hotspot is not sufficiently unforeseeable.