Message from the VC: back on campus for semester one

25 January 2022

Hello everyone

As we get ready for the start of semester back on campus, I'd like to run you through some of the measures we'll have in place to make our campus experience as safe and smooth as possible.

Classroom teaching will start, as scheduled, on 21 February, and we need every student and staff member who can be here to be here. In the weeks before that we have our traditional start of semester events on campus - all about connecting our students and staff to ANU.

On 7 February I'll give my annual State of the University address on campus with the Chancellor before we go to Llewellyn Hall for the first of eight graduation ceremonies that week. 7 February will be the day when we really start the year in earnest - and in person, with most of our staff on campus most of the time. It is time to face 2022 with optimism that we can create a safe and energetic environment here on campus and get on with our important work, while being ready to respond to the pandemic quickly as it evolves. I look forward to seeing you back on campus.

Our commencing students will arrive for O-week which begins with this year's Commencement address on 14 February.

If we've learned anything from COVID, it's that things can change, but based on the information we have and the advice of our experts we have a sound plan for a great campus experience anchored in the classroom. The situation across Australia is evolving daily and we're well prepared to adapt our plans as needed to ensure we're aligned with any future government decisions, or health imperatives.

This email contains information on:

Working on campus

In January many of us have been working from home in line with the Chief Minister's request. Please work with your supervisors on how your area will return to campus in February. I hope to see many of you for the State of the University address on 7 February.

Remember your mask, stay away if you're unwell (and get tested), wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing and make sure you're familiar with local protocols and business continuity arrangements.

COVID safety on campus

The health and safety of our staff and students will always be our highest priority. Our plans go over and above what's required to make our community a safe community.

Provision of masks and rapid antigen tests

We have been working since before Christmas to source P2/N95 masks and rapid antigen tests (RATs) to supply to our community. We know these have been hard to find and costly, so we want to make access as easy as possible for all current staff and students. Good quality masks and appropriate testing are two of the most powerful safety measures available. Subject to availability, we expect to provide our students and staff with a small number of masks and RATs by mid-February as part of a semester one starter pack, which you will be able to collect from distribution stations on the Acton campus and at interstate satellite sites.

We will update you on these arrangements and provide more information in the next few weeks when our delivery dates are confirmed.  

Notification of positive cases in the workplace

It's important that you let us know if you test positive for COVID-19. Current ACT Government rules require individuals to let people know they have spent time with them if they test positive. By notifying the University we can, where appropriate, help pass this information on to colleagues and students so they can take the necessary steps to help create a safer environment for all.

Please notify us using this form and notify your supervisor too.

Improving ventilation

Over the past several months we have been working on approaches to improving ventilation - one of the COVID-safe measures we're putting in place over and above the mandated requirements.

Implementation is being phased, and our focus for semester one is on improving ventilation in teaching spaces. A breakdown of the strategies that will be implemented in each teaching space on campus is available here.

The next phase of implementation will focus on high density buildings such as libraries before progressing to work on office spaces in the second half of 2022.

While this work is ongoing it's important to remember that our buildings have all been assessed and already meet all current requirements.

Updated University COVID-safe Guidelines

We have updated our COVID-safe Guidelines in response to the changed environment and the latest version is available to view here. Given the evolving nature of the current situation, these guidelines will be updated frequently using an iterative process based on feedback. If you have any feedback on the current version or queries, please email

Cleaning and sanitisation

Buildings will be professionally cleaned daily during business hours.  Everyone has an important role to play in keeping our campus safe - staff will continue to have access to disinfectant sprays for use in keeping desk spaces and common areas regularly wiped down.  Cleaning in response to COVID cases on campus will be targeted to those areas that are assessed as representing a higher risk of spread.

Hand sanitiser will continue to be available in all foyers and common areas to help maintain good hand hygiene.

Your role

While these safety measures are vital, you all have an equally important role to play. Safety measures only work if everyone takes personal responsibility and plays their part in keeping the community safe. Some of the most important things you can do to keep the community safe are:

  • Being vaccinated in line with recommendations by the public health authorities
  • Staying home and getting tested if you're unwell
  • Following any isolation requirements
  • Complete the COVID notification form and your supervisor if you test positive for COVID-19
  • Following current mask requirements
  • Washing or sanitising your hands frequently
  • Maintain physical distance between yourself and others where possible
  • Wiping down surfaces after use.

Teaching delivery

Classroom teaching will return in semester one 2022. Students who can attend classes on campus are expected to do so (except where students have enrolled in online study for their specific program).

The website has been updated with important information and guidance to assist course convenors in planning for semester one delivery which you can read here.

Classroom teaching will be the norm, but all course convenors have developed contingency plans for when staff and students are unable to come to class.


Vaccination remains the best way to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19 and we are lucky to live in the most vaccinated city in the world.

At present, we require our people to be vaccinated in specific University settings, including where required by ACT Health. Later today you will receive a survey to gather your thoughts on vaccinations to help further develop the ANU position on vaccination.

For your health and safety, please make sure you are fully vaccinated, including a booster when you're eligible.  Boosters are available to book on campus at University Pharmacy and the ANU Medical Clinic.

Important events

February is one of the busiest times of the year and we've been working on plans to ensure our major events can proceed on campus with additional safety measures in place.

Traditional, in-person graduations will return from 7-9 February for the first time in this format since 2019, and it's great to be welcoming back our 2020 and 2021 graduates for their 'walk across the stage' moment. We'll have additional safety measures in place in Llewellyn Hall including occupancy limits and purging of the air between sessions to improve ventilation.

Orientation Week starts on Monday 14 February and we've got a range of on activities for our new and returning students. The program will primarily be on campus and in-person, but we'll also have online options available for those students who are unable to join us.

And we are working to revive our calendar of public events to welcome our wider community back to our campus.

Future updates

I know today's update is extensive and I understand that some of you may have questions after reading the information provided.

The ANU COVID Pathway team will host another supervisors' forum in the coming weeks to answer as many questions as they can. Supervisors will receive an invitation to participate via email and I would encourage you to attend and participate.

You can also email any questions directly to our COVID Pathway team at

It remains a challenging time for our community and I would encourage you to reach out for support if you need it.

As always, On Campus is the place we'll provide routine updates and the information you need to know so please continue to read this each week.

Omicron has made planning for the start of semester more challenging than we all would have liked but I'm confident that if we all play our part, we can return to classroom teaching and campus life safely.

Thank you for your hard work in preparing for the year ahead.