COVID-19 Update: 8 September 2021

Update on Victoria’s COVID restrictions    

The Premier has announced some changes to the public health directions for most of regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton), with effect from 11.59pm Thursday 9 September. Settings for the higher education sector remain ‘if you can work/study from home, you must work/study from home’. As previously advised, on all campuses, in order to provide some certainty for staff and students, all La Trobe teaching that can be conducted successfully online will continue online until at least Monday 27 September. 

The Government continues to urge all people with symptoms to present for testing at the earliest possible opportunity, and to book in for vaccination

Summary of Victorian Government public health orders: Regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton) 

The changes of most relevance to the University are:  

  • The five reasons to leave home are removed 
  • Travel permitted to all areas within regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton)  
  • Movement between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is restricted to specified purposes including authorised work/study 
  • For higher education – if you can work/study from home, you must continue to work/study from home.  Where working from the office, there is a cap of 25% or up to 10 people if the total workplace is 40 or less (the density quotient of 1 person per 4 sqm applies) 
  • Schools – open for Prep to Grade 2 and Year 12 (or Year 11’s studying Year 12 subjects) only. Remote learning for other levels.  Twice weekly PCR testing is required for teachers moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria
  • Early learning centres, childcare, family day care – open 
  • Masks must be worn by Victorians aged 12 years or over in all settings (indoors and outdoors) when outside your home, unless you have a medical exemption; recommended for primary school age children wear masks indoors and outdoors 
  • Private gatherings: Not permitted, intimate partner visits / single person bubble permitted 
  • Public gatherings: Permitted for up to 10 people 

Summary of Victorian Government public health orders: Melbourne and Greater Shepparton 

  • The settings for Melbourne and Greater Shepparton are unchanged  
  • The only exception is that early learning centres, kindergarten, childcare, family day care remain closed but open to vulnerable children, the children of authorised workers and – as of midnight tomorrow – also for the children of single parents, if they cannot be supervised at home 

Greater Shepparton settings remain as they are (same as for metropolitan Melbourne).  Government has advised the settings are likely to be aligned to the rest of regional Victoria next week. 

It has also been announced that the first Victorian trial of home-based quarantine will support around 200 Victorian residents who have been stuck on the NSW side of the border to return home. 

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

Implications for University activities  

The University continues to work within the parameters of the Public Health directions and to consider and adjust its operational arrangements as these change. While the University is undertaking forward planning in anticipation of further gradual easing of settings, we cannot get ahead of the public health advice. We will continue to provide as much certainty as possible to students and staff. 

Authorised worker/student permits 

  • Permits are still required for Melbourne-based and Greater Shepparton people and anyone travelling from Melbourne and Greater Shepparton into regional Victoria 
  • If you are solely working/studying in regional Victoria the requirement for permits has been dropped 

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 at least Monday 27 September.  We continue to monitor the situation and will provide as much certainty about future arrangements as possible 
  • 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’s list of learning activities that can continue in face-to-face mode is unchanged. Authorised worker/student permits are required for everyone in Melbourne engaged in those activities, or for students and staff travelling from Melbourne to the regions. For more detail see the Permit FAQs. The requirement for permits for those staying solely in the regions has been removed. Students needing to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to regions for placement should contact their placement team for further information 
  • 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 
  • Library services: Library buildings remain open to staff and students with ‘Click and Send’ services available to students and academic staff who are unable to travel and require 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, with face-to-face service returning for regional campuses (excluding Shepparton) from Monday 13 September for selected services. Please check the ASK La Trobe webpage for live updates. 

Research activities 

  • 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 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. Authorised worker permits are still required for travel from metropolitan Melbourne into regional Victoria. 

Other activities 

  • Sports: On-campus sporting facilities will remain closed
  • Events:  As previously advised, Senior Executive Group has determined that all in-person University events are suspended (all campuses) until November.  The State Government has announced today that in-person events can resume in most of regional Victoria provided participant numbers and other COVID safe arrangements are followed.  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 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. 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.