*This is a message for students in NSW, Victoria and South Australia*
Our thoughts are with those of you who are stuck in lockdown and unable to return home to the ACT, where you live and study. I wish we had better news to provide you at this difficult time, and encourage you to read the information about support available at the end of this email.
The COVID-19 Delta variant has been a game changer in the worst possible way and is proving difficult for health authorities to get under control. Directions and advice change daily and we continue to advocate with government for you to safely return to campus. Based on the current COVID-19 situation and statements from state leaders in recent days, we expect large numbers of our students in Australia will have to study remotely for at least the start of semester 2.
We're preparing for this by working with course convenors and lecturers to make sure course content is ready online, and we are advising you to prepare for online learning too.
At present, the following regions are in lockdown to curb outbreaks of the Delta variant: Victoria, South Australia, and the NSW areas of Greater Sydney, Cabonne, Blayney and Orange. In response, the ACT Government has restricted entry to the ACT from these areas, which means you could face tough penalties if you come back to Canberra. The situation is changing quickly, and more locations could become affected by COVID-19. Please stay up to date with ACT Health travel advice.
If you are already in the ACT, you can study on campus as normal. If you are under stay at home or quarantine orders, please follow all health advice and study remotely while these orders are completed.
Anticipated duration and plan for study and wellbeing support
If you're currently in a lockdown area, you will need to start your semester 2 studies online. This will be the case until you can get an exemption (more details on this further down) to travel to the ACT, or restrictions begin to ease for people travelling from where you are.
We will have online course options available for you, and our teachers have listened to feedback and ideas and worked very hard to improve the engagement and interactivity of our online content. If you want to have a chat about your online learning options, please contact your Academic College.
We will also connect directly with students affected by the lockdowns to check in on your wellbeing and provide wellbeing support whilst you are not able to come to campus. We encourage you to consider reaching out to these services that all ANU students can access at no cost.
I'm in a lockdown area. Can I leave?
Until you are approved to return to the ACT, please stay where you are, and continue to follow the advice of your jurisdiction's health authority.
If you are not safe to stay where you are, please email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately and we'll do all we can to support you and make your case to health authorities.
I'm in a lockdown area. Can I get an exemption?
Rules and restrictions for entry to the ACT are determined by ACT Health, including the suitability of accommodation for quarantine purposes. ACT Health has not approved campus accommodation for the purpose of a large scale quarantine for returning students at this time. However, we continue to work with them to find solutions in the longer term.
ACT Health may grant exemptions in limited circumstances, subject to some strict criteria.
- Students with on-campus residential accommodation who are currently in Greater Sydney:
You may apply for an exemption from ACT Health to travel to the ACT.
In order to the meet the criteria for an exemption, you must demonstrate an urgent or exceptional need to travel to the ACT, and have a safe, approved place off campus (for example, a hotel or other short-term accommodation) to quarantine in the ACT.
For more information, please visit the Q&A on our website.
- Students with on-campus residential accommodation who are currently in Victoria, South Australia, or a regional NSW area in lockdown:
Our advice is to please stay where you are, if you are safe, and follow public health orders. Leaving lockdown areas is a violation of the public health directions and people who do so could be subject to a fine.
We will continually reassess the situation and are working with ACT Health to develop solutions for you return to campus if your lockdown is extended.
- Students with off-campus private accommodation who are currently in a lockdown area:
ACT Health has advised us that they will consider declarations or exemption requests from students who have a valid longstanding lease (with your name on it) in the ACT or an ACT driver's license and who can safely quarantine in the ACT.
They may also consider entry for students who may not meet the above criteria but who, for exceptional reasons, are unable to remain where they are or have an urgent need to be in the ACT. You can apply here.
Many of you have been in touch with questions about travelling to ANU, starting your semester online, support and the small number of quarantine places we host on campus for government officials. We have posted answers to questions on our website and will continue to do so as new ones come through. If you have a question that hasn't been answered yet, you can email email@example.com.
We have organised an online forum next Tuesday, 27 July from 12.30-1.30pm to give you the chance to ask questions as you start semester 2. Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Grady Venville will lead the forum, joined by the leaders of our Residential Experience team and quarantine operations. You can register for the forum here, and your family and friends are welcome to join too.
Rest assured, if you can't join us on campus for the start of semester, we'll be ready to teach you remotely until you can come home to Canberra, and we'll do all we can to help you. This includes providing financial, academic, mental health and wellbeing support, including hardship allowances.
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we keep advocating to get you back to campus as soon as possible.
Professor Ian Anderson AO
FAFPHM, FASSA, FAAHMS
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience)
The Australian National University, Canberra | CRICOS Provider: 00120C | ABN: 52 234 063 906