COVID-19 Update: 22 September 2021

The State Roadmap provides a high-level indication of the public health settings that will apply once the state reaches the National Plan vaccination targets. The lockdown in place in metro Melbourne (and selected other LGAs) is due to end when 70% of the population aged 16+ is fully vaccinated (indicatively 26 October).  

For adult education (which includes universities and TAFE), the settings are to remain as now until the state has reached 80% double dose vaccination (indicatively 5 November), at which point the setting will be: 

  • learn from home if you can 
  • on-site learning for hands-on, skills-based learning  
  • people allowed on-site if you are fully vaccinated  

The University will provide more detail of what this will look like for La Trobe in due course. 

In the meantime, all teaching that can be conducted successfully online (all campuses) will continue online  for the remainder of Semester 2/Term 5. Further details of implications for the university are provided below. 

For metropolitan Melbourne and selected other LGAs, the authorised worker/student permit system remains and another round of permits will need to be issued. See below for details. 

Vaccination 

The University strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated. Professor Vijaya Sundararajan, Professor in Public Health at La Trobe has noted, “we’re incredibly fortunate to have safe and effective vaccines available for COVID-19 that reduce the risk of severe illness. Bringing the vaccination rate as close to 100 percent as possible amongst staff and students will enable us to get back to a vibrant on-campus life as soon as possible.”  

Health placement students should note that the government has now issued a direction that healthcare workers must have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 15 October or provide evidence that they have an appointment to be vaccinated before 1 November to continue working or attend a placement. 

For more information on booking an appointment see the Vaccine Eligibility Checker and the Department of Health website. 

Community pharmacies are participating in the vaccine roll-out with additional doses becoming available. To find your nearest options, see Find a Pharmacy

Implications for University activities 

Teaching, Learning and Placements 

  • Continuation of online learning: In order to provide certainty for staff and students, all teaching that can be conducted successfully online across all campuses will continue online for the remainder of Semester 2/Term 5. Students will receive information from individual subject coordinators and teachers (with details, Zoom links, etc.).  Across regional campuses it is possible that a greater amount of face to face classes may be able to resume. The face-to face teaching that is permitted to continue in Melbourne is very limited.  Students are requested to check their email and LMS for specific advice  
  • Examinations: In relation to examinations planned for weeks 43-45, students will receive information from individual subject coordinators if there are any changes.  
  • Limited face-to-face learning activities (Melbourne):  The government’s list of learning activities that can continue in face-to-face mode is unchanged. Authorised worker/student permits are still required for everyone in Melbourne engaged in those activities, and for everyone travelling from Melbourne to the regions for essential purposes. For more details, see the Permit FAQs.   
  • On-campus learning and study spaces: For those students who cannot study at home, some on-campus study spaces, including libraries are available. Additional cleaning of these rooms will be undertaken. A list of study spaces is available in the FAQs. Melbourne-based students wishing to attend site for this purpose will need to apply for an authorised student permit; see the Permit FAQs for more information. 
  • Library services: Library buildings remain open to staff and students, with ‘Click and Send’ services available to students and academic staff who require physical resources and are unable to travel. Library support services remain available in alternative mode with some face-to-face services available at campuses where restrictions have been eased – see the Library Website for details 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, with face-to-face service returning for regional campuses for selected services. Please check the ASK La Trobe webpage for live updates. 

Research activities 

  • Essential research: The majority of researchers will need to work remotely, except where involved in ‘essential research’. In Melbourne, an authorised worker permit is still needed. 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 Victorian third-party sites that is essential must meet La Trobe University requirements, the external site’s requirements and the Victorian 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. Authorised worker permits are required for travel from metropolitan Melbourne into regional Victoria.  
  • For staff wishing to resume interstate field work, please speak to your line manager in the first instance. Permission can be given by the Dean/Head of School or their delegate. You must familiarise yourself with the current permit and quarantine requirements in your intended destination as they differ and change frequently, and organise your own permits to cross State borders. Border settings change with minimal (if any) notice including arrangements for Victorian residents returning home. Any costs incurred by being stranded interstate will be a personal responsibility. These considerations should be factored into the risk assessment associated with the activity and into an approval decision. Staff unable to delay activities might want to consider engaging a research subcontractor to undertake field work activities on their behalf. Further advice on costs and contracting requirements is available from the Research Office. 

Authorised worker/student permits 

  • Permits are still required for people based in Greater Melbourne and selected other LGAs (Ballarat, Geelong, Surf Coast Shire, Mitchell Shire) and are required if travelling for essential purposes from Melbourne into regional Victoria. 
  • If you are solely working/studying in regional Victoria you do not need a permit (excluding the LGAs named above). 
  • Permits are expected to remain a requirement until the end of lockdown (indicatively 26 October). Current permits expire on 23 September and the University is currently in the process of gathering details from schools and divisions of the people who will need to be re-issued a permit. 
  • Placement students will receive their permit from the placement team. 
  • Please refer to the permit FAQs for more information. 

NSW/VIC Cross border permits 

  • Residents of the NSW-Victoria cross border community area are currently required to obtain a Cross Border Community – Extreme Risk Zone permit to enter or re-enter Victoria if they have been in an Extreme Risk Zone inside the cross-border area (currently: City of Albury) and are travelling for a permitted reason, unless they have an exemption, exception, or another valid permit. See information for cross-border communities. 

Other activities 

  • Sports: On-campus sporting facilities in Melbourne are currently closed.  See the La Trobe sport website for the current information about facility access in the regions. 
  • Events: As previously advised, all in-person university events are suspended (all campuses) until November. If you believe there is a regional campus event that has a compelling business reason to occur, please discuss this with your Head of Campus, in the first instance. For general questions about events, 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, University 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 Victorian 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.  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. Alternatively, if you have any questions, please talk to your line manager or contact AskHR