As we adapt daily to the COVID-19 crisis, it is important that the University continues teaching and research activities which are essential for our students, our society and our economy.
Increasingly we need to use different ways of working and operating to protect the health and well-being of our students and staff.
These different ways of working will need to be in place for at least six months and need to be sustainable for individuals and the University.
The use of social distancing can stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus; it is scalable and sustainable and will help both protect the health of students and staff and allow us to maintain our essential functions of teaching and research.
Social distancing means increasing the space between you and others. It makes it harder for a virus to spread. The Department of Health has provided guidance on what Social Distancing means in the home, at work and in public areas.
Some examples of actions everyone can take to increase social distance include:
- Ensure that you keep a physical distance of at least 1.5m from each other
- Stop handshaking and other physical greetings
- Wash your hand frequently with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser where available
- Do not attend work if you are sick
- Use and encourage others to use good cough/sneeze hygiene
- Take lunch outside rather than inside
- Limit food handling and shared food in the workplace
- Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
- Use phone calls of video-conferencing rather than face-to-face meetings where possible
- Where a face-to-face meeting is essential, ensure that you maintain at least 1.5m between individuals
Managers are asked to review the working arrangements in their area to ensure they conform with social distancing recommendations and requirements relating to the maximum number of staff in a work area.
These working arrangements may include splitting teams, relocating to other spaces, spreading out of workstations, or rostering staff to work from home for agreed periods.
Working arrangements should be reviewed on a regular basis – and at least monthly – in line with latest advice from the Department of Health and to check that they are appropriate for ongoing operations. Staff may be asked to change their working arrangements as a result of these reviews.
Where working from home strategies are being considered by managers, consideration needs to be given to the health and safety issues and type of role carefully. Not all work can be conducted effectively and safely at home and essential roles and functions are still required to attend the usual workplace to ensure the University can continue its operations effectively. Rostering staff to work from home on different days or weeks may assist in achieving social distancing whilst reducing the risk of social isolation for staff over coming months.
The use of working from home should be prioritised for those staff who are deemed to be in vulnerable categories. The Department of Health advises that people in the following groups are more vulnerable to COVID-19:
- people with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer)
- elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have higher rates of chronic illness
- people with chronic medical conditions
Other staff requests to work from home will be considered by their supervisor and manager to identify if they can be accommodated whilst ensuring essential roles and functions are maintained.
Staff who are requested to work from home (or who have requested to do so) will need to complete a special Working from Home approval form and WHS checklist. It can be found at working from home -WHS considerations.
The University continues to provide and update general information on the student and staff Covid-19 webpages.
Take care and look out for each other.
Professor Clare Pollock
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students)