A lot of students have questions about how the university will operate when we return to campus next week. Craccum have poured through all the university’s emails, and spoken with the university directly, to gather the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.
Q: Will students who are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus be able to apply not to sit the tests in person? What kind of evidence would they need to provide for this?
The university told Craccum any student who develops Covid-19 symptoms should stay at home and seek medical advice. Should this occur at a time that impacts their ability to sit a test or examination, they can apply for an aegrotat consideration via the usual process.
Q: Will the $30-50 aegrotat/compassionate consideration fees be in place this semester?
No. Normally, you would have to pay the fee if you wanted to apply for a compassionate consideration; however, the university has told Craccum the fee will be suspended for this semester.
Q: Will students be able to apply not to sit an exam or test because they have high-risk family/friends etc.?
Yes, if they are unable to come onto campus for a test or exam because of the health condition of a person that they live with, students can apply for a compassionate consideration. The university urges students to advise them of their circumstances prior to any tests or exams as indicated in the email sent to them last night.
The university says it strictly follows the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, as well as Worksafe, in relation to health and safety related to Covid-19. They say students who have significant health conditions (or live with others who have significant health conditions) which mean they are at a higher risk should seek advice from their medical practitioner and advise the university of their circumstances. Students can do this by filling out the Covid-19 Semester Two form, which can be found online.
Q: What if I don’t want to come into campus for classes? Will all classes be recorded?
In a statement made in an all-staff zoom call, the university said recording equipment will continue to be used in classes so students can continue to study online if they wish.
However, in an email with Craccum, a spokesperson for the university said students would be able to view online recordings “where they are available”. The spokesperson also said that “where lecture recordings are not available it is usually because it is a small lecture – for these lectures physical distancing can be observed”.
It is unclear whether some classes will not be recorded. Based on the university’s response to the first lockdown – and also on the university’s lecture recording policies (which say all lectures must be recorded online unless the lecturer seeks an exemption from that rule), Craccum believes that most classes will continue to be recorded.
Students who do not want to attend classes can study from home, but it is important to note that students will have to come onto campus for in-person tests, exams, and invigilated assignments.
Q: What is the rationale behind the decision to limit lectures to in-person teaching to classes under 300 students? (Why not limit it to classes of 100 or less, for example?)
The university told Craccum the number was chosen because it allows safe social distancing, given the university’s facilities.
The university says the current Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education guidelines permit schools and universities to operate in-person classes under Alert Level 2, explicitly stating that the person limits on events and gatherings (10 in Auckland and 100 outside of Auckland) do not apply to education-related gatherings.
It says that although it must adhere to physical distancing requirements where possible, the existing Ministry of Education guidance is that “there are no size restrictions for lectures and classes”.
Q: Will students be able to be exempted from in-person classes/tutorials/tests/exams if they’re especially anxious about catching or spreading the disease?
The university told Craccum the University’s Health and Counselling service is available for students who are concerned about attending campus but do not have a high-risk health condition.
Q: What precautions are the university taking to make sure the campus is safe to return to?
The university will be installing hand sanitizer stations around campus. They will be making a strong recommendation that all students and staff wear masks while on campus, especially in the areas where “physical distancing may be difficult”. There will be “cleaning stations” established around the university.
Q: What’s happening with students overseas?
Students stuck overseas will continue to learn online. They will sit their exams and tests online. These exams and tests will not be invigilated.
Q: What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19 after we return to campus?
The university has established a plan to deal with students testing positive for COVID-19.
Under the plan, a lecturer or staff member informed of a student testing positive for COVID-19 will email a special university email address with information about the case. They must not share the information with other staff or students.
The university will then contact both the staff member and the student to “ensure they are ok, discuss support that is available to them and advise of next steps”. If it is deemed necessary, they will contact the staff and students who may have been in contact with the student. The university will work with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service to establish a plan of action.
From there, the university will decide whether or not it is appropriate to alert other students and staff of the case.
A “key role” of the plan is to ensure the staff and student receive “ongoing support” from the university.