Graduation, lectures cancelled at Otago University

The University of Otago has cancelled its public graduation ceremony scheduled for this Saturday, August 15.

In a post on its Facebook page the university said it was "the only responsible course of action given the identification of COVID-19 community transmission in Auckland, the rise to Alert Level 2 in Dunedin, and the social nature of the graduation ceremony".

All events associated with the graduation are also cancelled. 

Affected graduands had been advised, and those who were scheduled to graduate on Saturday would now graduate in absentia.

A graduation ceremony and associated events on on August 29 were still going ahead as planned. 

The cancellation comes after the university announced all face-to-face lectures and clinics were cancelled for today, after the news last night that Covid-19 community transmission is back.

A university spokeswoman said study spaces would remain open.

University of Otago students received the cancellation via text last night.

"We are cancelling classes for the day as time is required to activate both Alert Level 2 social distancing in teaching spaces, and the associated Level 2 timetable."

Otago’s Auckland facilities – the Auckland Centre in Queen St and the Dental Clinic in Counties Manukau – are shut under the Alert Level 3 conditions in place for the greater Auckland area. 

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Auckland will be moving into level 3 lockdown from noon today, with the rest of New Zealand moving to alert level 2.

For our other campuses, the University is following the Ministry of Health guidance for Alert Level 2 which is:

“Staff at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, for example those with moderate or severe underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and older people, are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.”

This means that, provided there is a departmental health and safety plan in place and operational, and appropriate social distancing is available, staff are considered safe to work on campus and should do so, it said.

This includes vulnerable staff or staff living with vulnerable people.

Social distancing of 1m inside work areas, and 2m everywhere else, is required. 

More information would be be posted on the university's website during the day, at www.otago.ac.nz/coronavirus.

 - an earlier story incorrectly stated classes were also cancelled tomorrow 

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