Australia

Deakin charts course to safely reopen campuses


Deakin University has announced a plan to safely welcome students and staff back to its campuses as part of a staged reopening aligned with the Victorian Government’s Roadmap: Delivering the National Plan.

Only a fully vaccinated study and work environment will ensure Deakin’s campuses in Melbourne, Geelong, Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool are as vibrant and safe as possible from the beginning of next year.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin said the plan recognised the need to provide certainty to students and staff for the rest of 2021 while charting a course forward for 2022.

“From the outset of the pandemic, we have worked within the framework set out by the state and federal governments, and it is now clear that public spaces will increasingly be open only to people who are fully vaccinated,” Professor Martin said.

“We have carefully considered what this means for Deakin students and staff, and I’m pleased to share the results of our recent vaccination survey, in which 2000 colleagues provided their views on mandatory vaccination for Deakin students and staff.”

The anonymous Deakin survey found:

  • 85% of respondents have had at least one vaccination dose (and 62% are fully vaccinated)
  • Less than 3.5% have indicated that they do not intend to be vaccinated
  • 77% of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed with mandatory vaccination for staff
  • 74% of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed with mandatory vaccination for students

 

Deakin’s plan is as follows:

From October 15:

  • All staff and students attending campus as approved essential workers/students will be required to demonstrate evidence of having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Given this is a public health order, it is mandatory.
  • Deakin will reissue all existing essential worker permits confirming that proof of vaccination has been sighted.

From November 5:

  • Only fully vaccinated staff, students or visitors (or those with an ATAGI-approved reason for exemption) may attend campus.
  • Students will continue their studies online for the remainder of 2021, with on-campus pracs and labs scheduled for fully vaccinated students from December. This recognises that many in our community, particularly students, have not yet had the opportunity for vaccination.

From January 31, 2022:

  • All staff, students and visitors attending, working or studying on campus are required to be fully vaccinated.
  • In Trimester 1, we’re getting back to campus: many classes, seminars and hands-on learning activities will be delivered in person. Deakin’s digital learning environment will continue to underpin this, with students and teachers actively collaborating to bring learning to life.
  • Deakin staff will resume a blended working arrangement.
  • Cloud students may continue studying online without vaccination. However, Deakin strongly encourages vaccination for the entire Deakin community.

Requests for exemptions to the Deakin plan will be considered case-by-case, including for students and staff with medical exemptions and, for the time between November 5 and January 31, those people who have not completed their vaccination protocols.

“It is important to be aware that some areas of the campus – for example, cafes and some other public spaces – will be inaccessible to those who are not fully vaccinated but do not hold a valid medical exemption. Regulations in the Victorian Government’s Roadmap make this clear,” Professor Martin said.

“We are awaiting further information from the Government on how vaccination status will be recorded and will share this with the University community as it becomes available. In addition, Deakin will continue with other recommended measures such as mask-wearing, density limits and the availability of hand sanitiser to minimise COVID-19 transmission on-campus.”

Professor Martin implored all Deakin students and staff to go and get vaccinated.

“We want our campuses to be as inclusive and as safe as possible, and that requires having our students and staff as close to full vaccination as possible. So I urge everyone to make a booking or visit a walk-up clinic and get your jab as soon as you can.”

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