COVID-19 Update: Mildura and Shepparton 11 October 2021

Update on Victoria’s COVID restrictions 

Mildura

Mildura is to enter a seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm, Friday 8 October and residents there are asked to present for testing if they are experiencing any symptoms or have attended an exposure site. Any students with planned on-site classes or current placements in Mildura should:

  • Check their LMS for update (on-site classes), or
  • Contact their placement team (placement) to discuss the potential impact.

Shepparton

The Chief Health Officer has announced that Shepparton will move to the same public health directions that apply to the rest of regional Victoria, with effect from 11.59pm, Friday 8 October. 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 the end of Semester 2 / Term 5 (21 October).

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 (incl Shepparton and excl Mildura from 11.59pm, Friday 8 October)

The changes of most relevance to the University are:

  • The six reasons to leave home are removed
  • Travel permitted to all areas within regional Victoria
  • Movement between metropolitan Melbourne (including Mitchell Shire and Mildura Rural City Council) and regional Victoria is restricted to specified purposes including authorised work/study
  • – 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)
  • From 15 October, staff and students who are required to attend on-site will need to have received at least your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine (or have evidence of a valid medical exemption)
  • Schools – Staged return to onsite learning. See Victorian Government website for the most up to date information: Staged return to onsite learning for Schools 
  • 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; highly recommended for primary school age children to 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: Metropolitan Melbourne (incl Mildura from 11.59pm, Friday 8 October)

  • There are only six reasons to leave home:
    • authorised work (with a permit) or permitted education
    • essential shopping – one person per household, once per day
    • exercise – once a day for up to 4 hours, and that 4 hours includes any time spent outdoors socialising in limited groups
    • outdoor social interaction in limited groups – once a day for up to 4 hours, and that 4 hours includes any time spent on exercise
    • caregiving or compassionate reasons
    • to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the nearest possible location, if eligible (see below)
  • Essential shopping and exercise must be done within 15km of your home or the nearest location
  • If you can work/study from home, you must work/study from home
  • Social gatherings are permitted outdoors between two people from a maximum of two households. Up to five people can socialise outdoors (excluding dependents) from two households if every person over 18 years is fully vaccinated
  • Playgrounds are open to children of all ages. Up to five fully vaccinated adults (from up to two households) can gather as a group with their dependants
  • No visitors are allowed in your home other than an intimate partner. People living alone can establish ‘a bubble’ with one other person
  • Schools will move to remote learning but remain open for vulnerable children or the children of authorised workers.  Where a parent or carer indicates that a student with a disability cannot learn from home due to vulnerability or family stress, the school must provide on-site learning for that student
  • Childcare and early education centres will open for vulnerable children and children with at least one parent who is an authorised worker. An Authorised Worker Permit is required to access childcare and early education centres (See Authorised Worker/student permits below) unless the child or young person is experiencing vulnerability
  • Single parents who work can access childcare, regardless of whether they are an authorised worker. 
  • Higher education must return to ‘study/work from home’, except for selected staff and learning programs that can continue attending campuses as per the Authorised Premises and Authorised Worker list (see below)
  • From 15 October, staff and students who are required to attend on-site will need to have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (or have evidence of a valid medical exemption)
  • Essential retail will remain open (supermarket, pharmacy, petrol station etc); other retail will close but ‘click and collect’ is permitted
  • Gyms, hairdressers, community facilities and entertainment venues will all close

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.

Working arrangements

  • The majority of staff will need to continue working remotely
  • Travel between Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is permitted only where it is to undertake authorised work/study and you hold a current permit.  Please talk to your line manager or school manager in the first instance or see the authorised worker permit FAQs

Authorised worker/student permits

  • Permits are still required for Melbourne and Mildura based people and anyone travelling from Melbourne and Mildura into regional Victoria
  • If you are solely working/studying in regional Victoria the requirement for a permit to travel has been dropped, except if you work / study in Mildura
  • Under the change announced by the Victorian Government, Authorised Worker/Students state-wide must have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by no later than Friday 15 October (or be booked in to have their first dose by 22 October) and be fully vaccinated by no later than Friday 26 November unless they have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.

Teaching and Learning and Placements

  • Continuation of online learning: As previously advised, to provide some certainty for staff and students, all teaching that can be conducted successfully online will continue online until at least the end of Semester 2/Term 5 (21 October). 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 activitiesthat can continue in face-to-face mode is unchanged. Authorised worker/student permits are required for everyone in metropolitan Melbourne and Mildura engaged in those activities, or for students and staff travelling between either metropolitan Melbourne or Mildura into regional Victoria. For more detail see the Permit FAQs. Students needing to travel in metropolitan Melbourne and Mildura 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 library 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 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 supportservices remain available in alternative mode- see the Library Website  for detail of how to access library services.
  • : 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 available at regional campuses, that are not impacted by current restrictions, for selected services. Face to face services at the Shepparton and Mildura campuses will resume as soon as possible. Please check the ASK La Trobe webpage for live updates.

Research activities

  • The majority of researchers will need to work remotely, except if involved in ‘essential research’, whereby an authorised worker permit will be required.
  • 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.
  • 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. Individuals undertaking field work or attending third-party sites are required to comply with the State Governments COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions. 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.

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 (exclude Mildura) 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. Alternatively, if you have any questions, please talk to your line manager or contact AskHR.