COVID-19 Update: 1 September 2021

The Premier has announced a roadmap of gradual easing of public health restrictions over the coming weeks, linked to vaccination rates and the underlying pattern of COVID cases. The current lockdown restrictions will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians have had at least one dose of vaccine. This is estimated to be around 23 September.  

The Government continues to urge all people to present for testing at the earliest possible opportunity and to consider vaccination

Summary of Victorian Government public health orders: State wide 

  • The five reasons to leave home remain: 
    • Authorised work (see below). 
    • Essential shopping – one person per household, once per day. 
    • Exercise – up to two hours, with one other person plus dependants if they cannot be left unattended. The other person can be from another household. 
    • Caregiving or compassionate reasons.  
    • To get vaccinated against COVID-19, if eligible (see below). 
  • The travel limit of 5km from your place of primary residence remains in place (except for visit to an intimate partner/single bubble). This is likely to be expanded to 10km on or around 23 September. 
  • For higher education – if you can work/study from home, you must work/study from home and with authorised worker/student permits still required State-wide. 
  • Schools – remote learning for remainder Term 3; school open to vulnerable children, and the children of authorised workers.  More information on Term 4 next week. Schools will inform final year students directly about priority access to vaccination through State hubs. 
  • Early learning centres, childcare, family day care – largely still restricted to authorised workers/students and vulnerable children only but from midnight Thursday 2 Sept some changes to in-home care from authorised workers. 
  • Masks must be worn in all settings (indoors and outdoors) when outside your home, unless you have a medical exemption.
  • The curfew remains in place in Melbourne only 9pm-5am daily (exceptions for limited reasons).  The curfew does not apply to regional Victoria. 
  • From 11.59pm on Thursday 2 September outdoor playgrounds will reopen for children under 12 years with one parent/carer. Parent/carer cannot take mask off to eat or drink while supervising their children playing and QR code check-in will be required. 

The Premier has signalled that regional Victoria (excluding Shepparton region) is likely to have different public health restrictions soon and that further announcements will be made next week. 

For more details of what is and is not permitted, refer to the Victorian Government COVID website

Implications for University activities 

Authorised worker/student permits  

  • The University needs to re-issue a second round of permits to authorised workers and students. 
  • The Government’s list of authorised work/study is shown below. 

Authorised work

  • Accessing specialist equipment to prepare materials for online learning.
  • To support service delivery on site for vulnerable students in higher education and training, where not practicable to provide remotely.
  • Undertaking essential research, including:
    • Management and care of critical living resources, and the equipment and materials they depend upon (e.g. feeding, husbandry, hydrating, routine care and checks of animals, plants, microbes and cell lines in controlled environment).
    • The storage and management of existing samples and data research infrastructure that are temperature and environmentally sensitive (e.g. biobank).
    • Long-term experiments or studies that otherwise would be prohibitive to restart (e.g. commenced clinical trials).
    • Research addressing the impact of COVID-19 and research in support of the hospital and broader health system.
    • Maintenance of essential research facilities.
  • Support of on-site residential students.
  • Administrative services provided to enable staff to work from home (e.g. payroll or Information Services staff).
  • Undertaking infrastructure construction projects, or operation/repair of infrastructure, including security.

Authorised studies

  • Study for final year pre-service early childhood and school teachers (including placements).
  • Final-year higher education students (i.e. in TEQSA-regulated courses), who do not have alternative options to complete their study by end of year.
  • For the purposes of undertaking a prescribed examination or assessment, where not practicable to provide remotely.
  • First aid training where required for COVID response.
  • Study for health care workers (including clinical placements).
  • Aged and disability care (including clinical placements).

What you need to do: Authorised workers and students

  • The University is in the process of gathering information directly from Schools, Divisions and Heads of Campus about the staff and students that will need to be issued a permit to cover the period 2 September – 23 September. 
  • Please be patient; priority will be given to issuing permits in the order of when they are required. 
  • For staff and graduate researchers, if you believe you meet the definition of an authorised worker/students (see above) and have not received your permit by 3pm Thursday 2 September, please contact your line manager (staff) or supervisor (graduate researcher). They will need to consider whether a permit can be legally issued and approve for this to occur.  You will need to await receipt of the permit before attending site.
  • For students, if you believe you meet the definition of an authorised student (see above) and have not received your permit, please contact your subject convenor (students) or the placement team. They will need to consider whether a permit can be legally issued and approve for this to occur.  You will need to await receipt of the permit before attending site or placement. 
  • If you are a student wishing to access the campus for safe study space, you will also need to apply for a permit. See the Permit FAQs
  • Students on placements at health services will be provided with permits from the Placement Team SHE.HealthPlacements@latrobe.edu.au. If you experience any issues, please contact the placement team and they will assess whether a permit can be issued
  • When the permit is issued, it will be accompanied by important information for permit holders. Most important of all is that permit holders MUST NOT attend site if: they are unwell, test positive to COVID-19 or have been told by the Department of Health to isolate.  
  • For staff, the permit email will be sent from a central administration account. For students, it will be sent from a College/School administration account. 
  • Travel between regional Victoria and Metropolitan Melbourne is permitted only where it is to undertake authorised work/study and you hold a current permit. 
  • Please refer to the Permit FAQs for more information.  

Teaching and Learning and Placements 

  • Continuation of online learning: As previously advised, on all campuses, in order to provide some certainty for staff and students, all teaching that can be conducted successfully online will continue online until Monday 27 September.  Students will receive information from individual subject coordinators and teachers (with details, Zoom links, etc.). The face-to face teaching that is permitted to continue on campus is very limited.  Students are requested to check their email and LMS for specific advice . 
  • Limited face to face learning activities and Placements:  The Government has defined the learning activities that can continue in face-to-face mode (see above). Authorised worker/student permits will be required for everyone engaged in those activities. For more detail see the Permit FAQs. Students with placements planned but who are unwell or in self-isolation due to a public health order should contact the placement team to discuss alternative arrangements. 
  • On-campus learning and study spaces: for those students who cannot study at home, some on-campus study spaces, including libraries will be provided.  Additional cleaning of these rooms will be undertaken.  The list of study spaces is available in the FAQs. Students wishing to attend site for this purpose will need to apply for an authorised student permit; see the Permit FAQs for more information.
  • City campus: remains closed until further notice. 
  • Library services: Library buildings remain open to authorised staff and students with Click and Send services in place for students and academics requiring physical resources. Library support services remain available in alternative mode – see the Library Website for detail of how to access library services.  
  • Support services for students: For students who need support at any time, we’re here for you. Get in touch with the University’s Health and Wellbeing services.  All student support services continue to be available remotely. Please check the ASK La Trobe webpage for live updates. Note that most services will be closed on Friday 3 September for a planned staff wellness day.

Research activities 

  • The majority of researchers will need to work remotely, except where involved in ‘essential research’ that qualifies for an authorised worker permit (see above). 
  • Essential research requiring site-specific access for experiments or studies can continue (this applies to staff, graduate researchers, Masters by Research, Masters by Coursework students with research projects and Honours students). Permission for staff, graduate researchers and research students is given by the Dean/Head of School or their delegate.  Graduate researchers, Masters by Research, Masters by Coursework and Honours students cannot be compelled to attend campus and should have a discussion with their supervisor. 
  • Graduate researchers, Masters by Research, Masters by Coursework students with research projects and Honours students should speak to their supervisor in the first instance before gaining Head of School approval. 
  • Field work and work in third-party sites that is essential must meet La Trobe University requirements, the external site’s requirements and the State Government requirements. Speak to your line manager in the first instance. Permission can be given by the Dean/Head of School or their delegate. 

Other activities 

  • Sports: On-campus sporting facilities will remain closed. 
  • Events: All in-person events remain suspended until November. For information on event planning please contact University Events at events@latrobe.edu.au
  • Children’s Centre: Remains open for those with an authorised worker/student permit. 

Keeping Campuses COVID-Safe 

Please follow general COVID safe measures:   

  • Monitor COVID exposure sites that are frequently updated and follow the public health directions. 
  • Wear a face mask in all settings outside your home including all workplace settings, (unless a medical exemption applies).  See the Government rules about masks here.  
  • Practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.  
  • Maintain appropriate physical distancing.  
  • If you feel even slightly unwell with respiratory symptoms, immediately self-isolate and call the Department of Health COVID hotline (1800 675 398) to find out how to get tested; then self-isolate and stay home until you receive the result.  This applies regardless of your vaccination status. Even if you have been fully vaccinated, there is a risk you can still transmit the virus to other people.
  • If you are attending campus, sign-in to each building as you move around using the QR code system. 

Notify the University 

  • Please remember that under the workplace directions issued under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic), staff and students must notify their tertiary education provider if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have attended while infectious. If you have been diagnosed or have been informed you are a primary or secondary contact of someone who has, please contact Spomenka Krizmanic the University’s Manager, Health Safety and Environment (0447 323 256).  This will ensure that actions can be appropriately coordinated within the University and with Government health authorities.
  • If you become aware of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case amongst students, staff or a campus visitor, or are contacted by placement providers about possible exposures please immediately inform Spomenka Krizmanic

Support for Students

For students who need support at any time, we’re here for you. Get in touch with the University’s Health and Wellbeing services. Please check the ASK La Trobe webpage for live updates. The State Government has financial and other support that may be applicable to you.   

All students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for your protection and the protection of your family and the wider community. For more information on booking an appointment see the Vaccine Eligibility Checker and the Department of Health website.   

More Information 

For more details see the Government COVID website and the continually updated list of exposure sites. If you have attended an exposure site you must follow the public health directions.   

For further information about the University’s response see the University’s COVID FAQs which are regularly updated.