*This is a message for students who are in Australia but currently situated outside of the ACT*
I hope you have had a restful and safe break.
As you will know, next week is O-Week and I'm sure you are eagerly anticipating getting back into university life. Unfortunately, for many of you the current COVID-19 outbreaks and travel restrictions will mean your journey here might not be as soon or as simple as you had hoped.
Rest assured, if you aren't able to join us on campus for the start of semester, we'll be ready to teach you online until you can come home to Canberra, and we'll do all we can to help you. This includes providing access to bursary assistance with costs you have incurred, and access to wellbeing support.
Below are updates for students who are in COVID-affected areas in Australia. Please note that at this stage ACT Health will only allow students in affected areas to return home to the ACT in very limited circumstances.
New South Wales
For those of you in the Greater Sydney area, we are continuing discussions with ACT Health about a plan for our students to safely return to campus.
All our staff and students should follow the advice of state and territory health authorities. NSW Health advise that you are forbidden to travel from Greater Sydney unless you have a legitimate reason, and people who travel from the Greater Sydney area to other parts of NSW will be stopped by police and potentially issued a $1,000 fine. Additionally, ACT Health public health orders make it illegal to come to the ACT unless you have an exemption.
For on-campus residential students, we are working with ACT Health to develop a system to help students safely return to campus, but at this stage they will only consider exemptions for a small number of students with compelling and/or compassionate reasons to return. So, if you are safe, please stay where you are, and continue to follow the advice of NSW Health. If you are not safe to stay where you are, please contact our COVID Response Office immediately.
If you are experiencing any financial difficulties in making payments, contact your Residence to discuss what options are available. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for an emergency accommodation bursary.
For those who live off campus, ACT Health has advised us that they will consider exemption requests for students who have a valid longstanding lease in the ACT or an ACT driver license. They may also consider entry for students who may not meet the above criteria but who, for exceptional reasons, are unable to remain in Sydney or have an urgent need to be in the ACT.
For those of you in Victoria, unfortunately this lockdown happened swiftly and without much warning. Given the proactive approach to lockdown and its expected short duration, we ask you not to travel at this time. We will reassess options early next week and provide further information as we know more.
If you are not safe to stay where you are, please contact our COVID Response Office immediately.
Other Australian states and territories
The ACT has restrictions in place for those who have been in exposure locations. Check the ACT Health 'Entering the ACT' website regularly before, during and after your travel.
If you are a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you need to apply for an exemption from both the state you are currently in and from ACT Health, before you travel to the ACT.
If you are a casual contact of a suspected or confirmed case, or you are in an area of concern (other than NSW and Victoria), you need to complete a declaration before you travel to the ACT.
Starting semester 2
We will continue to provide flexible study options for all ANU courses for those of you who are unable to commence your semester 2 studies on campus. This includes those of you under stay-at-home and quarantine orders. Our Orientation Week program features a range of virtual workshops and events.
General COVID-safe travel advice
Our travel advice website is up to date with information about entering the ACT. Please check this before making plans to travel to the ACT. You should also continue to monitor the ACT Health website for regular updates before making any plans to travel to the ACT.
Whenever you travel, monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days, get tested with even mild symptoms and keep checking for updates about where you have been.
Please access support if you need it. We have a number of free support services available for our community. For students who are not able to return at this time to your home on campus, please contact your residence's staff about the online health and wellbeing activities you can join.
The pandemic has been stressful, unsettling and overwhelming, and it's okay to need a little extra support for your mental and physical wellbeing.
If you need any further advice or information regarding the latest COVID-19 related developments and its impact on your study and your ability to return to Canberra, please contact our COVID Response team.
Good luck with your preparations for a safe start to semester 2 and take care.
Professor Ian Anderson
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience)
The Australian National University, Canberra | CRICOS Provider: 00120C | ABN: 52 234 063 906