Uni awaits Govt advice before Omicron plans finalised

The University of Otago awaits official guidance on what it should do if there is an Omicron outbreak on its campuses or at halls of residence.

Acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson yesterday said the university had been preparing for months for the possibility of Covid-19 in its community, but was awaiting Government guidelines for tertiary institutions before being able to complete its plans.

Those guidelines would include how to deal with hundreds of students using dining halls at university residential halls at one time and what the university should do for an outbreak on campus.

University libraries were already restricted to staff and students, and physical distancing measures were in place, masks being mandatory indoors except where Government-approved exemptions were provided.

Vaccine passes were checked at all university libraries.

For lectures, Prof Nicholson said summer school classes were in session under Red level requirements of face masks, ventilation, and vaccine passes. Other classes would be much the same when they started, she said.

"Face-to-face teaching will occur in most papers, with physical distancing and face masks mandatory," she said.

Some papers would be a mix of online and face-to-face teaching. For students who became sick, there would be learning alternatives.

The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) had to cancel six Orientation Week events.

It did not respond to specific questions about a budget shortfall. OUSA chief executive Debbie Downs said the events were not organised to make a profit.

"We run Orientation Week to engage with our student community and enhance their experience," Ms Downs said.

While OUSA would not be holding large events this year, it would run smaller ones.

These included the Drop for Good Sale and Good Mahi, a volunteer day at Orokonui, Ms Downs said.

-- eric.trump@odt.co.nz




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