Principles and priorities for on-campus experiences

The following principles, for the on-campus experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, have been designed to support and enable our overarching response and priorities as we move into 2022.

These principles are intended to inform and guide the focus of our pandemic response as we move into a world where community case numbers are likely to increase, and COVID-19 transmission becomes normalised.

They recognise COVID-19 related risks, and potential impacts for University of Melbourne students, staff stakeholders, reputation, business operations, finances and regulatory health and safety requirements.

Principles

The following principles guide and inform our COVID-19 response.

  • Ensure a healthy campus environment for students, staff and stakeholders, including:
    • lowering the risk of COVID-19 transmission for students, staff and stakeholders by ensuring adequate and proportionate measures to reduce transmission risk are in place
    • making necessary adjustments or changes to operations and infrastructure to support health and wellbeing on campus
    • responsive measures designed to address and mitigate any COVID risks on campus as they occur
  • Foster a culture of care and respect for one another while following public health measures and COVIDSafe measures, by:
    • focusing on positive reinforcement, role-modelling and peer-based approaches to encourage compliance amongst students and staff
    • focusing on actions and activities that increase and decrease risk of COVID-19
    • providing reasoning behind the requirements, ensuring students and staff understand the role these measures play
  • Be evidence-based in our approach to decision-making, drawing on the University’s own research and industry expertise, including:
    • drawing on and leveraging our expertise in COVID-19 and public health research to provide accurate information and advice to students and staff
    • ensuring our approach is informed by well-rounded considerations of the many factors which play into COVID-19 and public health decisions
  • Provide accurate and timely communications to students and staff, enabling them to be informed and aware of how to support their own and others health and wellbeing while on campus, including:
    • targeting communications and messaging to ensure those who need it receive it
    • tailoring communication channels to ensure active engagement with messages and content
  • Provide mechanisms to help students and staff make informed choices that support and reflect their individual circumstances and health status, such as:
    • consideration for students and staff who may have legitimate reasons for being unable to comply with public health measures, for example due to personal vulnerabilities or as a result of the vulnerable status of those they live with
    • compliance approaches that seek, where possible, to maintain privacy and not single out individuals in line with their public health response

Priorities

In preparation for 2022, the University will:

  • maintain and increase focus on strongly encouraging vaccination for students and staff, including further promotion of opportunities that support vaccination uptake
  • ensure student and staff policy settings adequately reflect consideration of the impacts of COVID‑19 illness and/or isolation requirements
  • ensure business continuity plans are ready to be enacted in the event of building closures, reversion to remote learning and/or working, impacts to staffing or supply chain, or isolation requirements in residential settings
  • consider staggered management of cohorts commencing in, or returning to, residential accommodation to ensure the ability to quarantine manageable groups
  • review COVIDSafe settings for on-campus activity including applicability of existing mitigations such as distancing, sanitising, density, QR track and trace, mask use, and the application of new strategies such as rapid testing, COVID‑negative tests
  • implement strategies to maximise ventilation and mitigation measures for poorly ventilated spaces
  • determine the level of public access that is desirable and appropriate for our campuses at the different stages of COVID‑19 response
  • ensure our public health team (including surge capacity) is ready to track and trace COVID-19 cases on campus and monitor case numbers or ‘hot spots’ near our University campuses, while continuing to offer support and counselling to affected students and staff.