Message from the Vice-Chancellor – Teaching and learning in 2021

A warm welcome to our new La Trobe students, and welcome back to our returning students.

I commend you all for the way you handled a challenging 2020 with courage and perseverance. Whether you were completing Year 12, studying at La Trobe or working during the past year, your grit and determination have been remarkable and I’m proud of the resilience each of you has shown.

Campus hasn’t been the same without you all, and I look forward to seeing many of your faces back on campus soon.

Many of you have asked how teaching will be delivered in Semester 1.  I am pleased to announce the return of more face-to-face activity at our campuses including the reopening of facilities such as the Library, student study spaces, retail and gym. To find out if your subjects offer face-to-face classes, login to Allocate+ and set up your timetable.

I want to assure you that we are working very hard to provide you with the best possible university experience and a COVID-safe environment for all.

Staged return to face-to-face learning and teaching

We are now managing the return to face-to-face activity at our campuses through a carefully planned COVID-Safe process that is strictly in line with the guidelines provided by the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services. We are working hard to organise COVID-safe spaces for face-to-face teaching in Semester 1 and to maximise the opportunities for students to undertake learning on campus.

Where we can, subjects will be offered in both face-to-face and online formats, however some of your classes (particularly lectures) will remain online for one or more of the following reasons:

  • continuing social distancing requirements restrict us from accommodating everyone in a suitable venue
  • accessibility for students unable to return to Australia or the state of Victoria
  • accessibility for students and teaching staff with vulnerable health conditions or those restricted from attending campus in person until such point as a COVID-19 vaccine is available
  • the subject is offered in fully online mode only

I want to assure you that whether our subjects are delivered face-to-face or as a combination with online activities, you will receive the highest quality teaching and education from La Trobe.

Please monitor your student email and your LMS subject sites for subject-specific information about how your classes will be delivered, and any specific COVID safety arrangements that may be needed.

COVID-safe campuses

Where face-to-face activities are delivered in Semester 1, all teaching will comply with strict physical distancing requirements and all teaching spaces will be cleaned in accordance with COVIDSafe hygiene requirements. Fitted face masks must be worn when indoors in a University building in compliance with the latest Victorian Government requirements. We encourage you to monitor current Victorian health directions as they can change very quickly.

We will continue to adhere to public health advice and will not take any steps that would put our students or staff at risk. We are monitoring government COVID-19 guidelines and adapting our operations accordingly and will continue to do so when Semester 1 commences.

We expect everyone (staff, students and visitors) who attend the campus to comply with our COVIDSafe plan and to:

  • Sign in via the QR code located outside of each building each time you enter a building on campus;
  • Carry a face mask at all times and wear a face mask while indoors in University buildings
  • Obey all safety signage and COVIDSafe practices: maintain physical distancing; comply with any room capacity limits; practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette, and, importantly, do not attend if you feel unwell.

If you can’t attend campus

We understand that some students may not be able to attend campus owing to travel restrictions and circumstances outside their control.

Please note that any live sessions will be conducted in Australian Eastern Standard time (AEST). However please check with your course coordinator and subject coordinators whether there are compulsory face-to-face components and what this means if you are not in Australia. It may be necessary that you withdraw from that subject and pick up the credit points at a later date.

We are closely monitoring the travel situation and we hope very much that borders will open as quickly as possible and studies will resume as normal. Please check the Australian government Department of Home Affairs website and Australian Department of Health website regularly for updates.

We acknowledge this is a stressful time for international students and remind you of the services available through the International Student Services  and Wellbeing teams.

Support available on campus and online

All student support services will continue to be available online. ASK La Trobe has updated its searchable database of online FAQs to assist students with timetabling, enrolment and general questions. There are also a number of virtual enrolment and general advice online drop-in sessions now open for registration across February and March. Most student support services will start returning to face-to-face operations on campus from February 2021. While ASK La Trobe HELP zones in Bundoora and Bendigo continue to remain closed, limited face-to-face services for ASK La Trobe will resume at Mildura, Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga from February.

La Trobe’s student wellbeing support services, including free counselling, are available online or over the phone, and we encourage you to access these support services if you need to.

Where to find updates

I will update all students regularly through email and the MyLaTrobe channels. For all community updates I would encourage you to visit the MyLaTrobe website, Facebook page, Instagram page and the COVID-19 Student FAQs page.

I wish you the best of luck with the beginning of the Semester and look forward to seeing many of you on campus this year. Good luck, work hard and stay safe.

Professor John Dewar AO

Vice-Chancellor and President