Coronavirus

Avondale’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update (current as of March 27, 2020): Delivery of all units by distance mode

Avondale University College will deliver all units only by distance mode for the remainder of semester one. This means some students may not be able to complete the practical components of select units by the end of semester. Avondale will organise intensive sessions to deliver practical components once face-to-face delivery of units resumes. Dates for these sessions are yet to be confirmed.

Delivery of all units by distance mode prioritises the safety of staff members and students.

All units and Moodle sites will reflect the necessary adjustments to assessment tasks by Tuesday, March 31.

Avondale Libraries closed

Avondale Libraries (Lake Macquarie campus) has closed until further notice but staff members remain available by email or phone during office hours. It will continue to help staff members transition to delivery of units by distance mode and provide services for eReserve with digitised course content. It will also extend all loans.

Avondale Libraries (Sydney campus) remains open but is offering only limited services.

Check email daily

As Avondale continues transitioning to the delivery of units by distance mode for the remainder of semester one, please regularly monitor your email account to keep up-to-date with information you need to know about your study. For help in adding your student email account to your mail client, visit http://www.avondale.edu.au/help/tech-services/email-instructions/.



Update (current as of March 25, 2020): Residence halls now closed

The residence halls on Avondale University College’s Lake Macquarie campus are now closed until further notice. The halls are closed to all students except those who have arranged previously to remain on campus. Avondale does not anticipate a return of students to the halls for the remainder of semester one. Contact the Director of Student Life Services for more information.

Recording of Q’n’A’ session for students

A recording of the coronavirus Q’n’A’ session Avondale University College hosted via Zoom for students on Monday is available.



Update (current as of March 23, 2020): Mid-semester break begins tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24)

Avondale University College is scheduling an even earlier mid-semester break to encourage students who are able to return home. Classes will close at the end of the day (Monday, March 23) and return on Tuesday, April 14.

The scheduling of an earlier and extended break will give lecturers more time to move their classes online and students time to adjust.

When classes resume, all lectures will be delivered online except where there is a practical component. Lectures delivered online by video conference will run to the existing timetable. Online academic support including the virtual mentor program will be monitored and scaled up if necessary.

Where online delivery of lectures is not possible or feasible, such as for nursing labs and classes in ceramics, counselling, general studies, music and outdoor recreation, the theoretical component may be delivered online while the practical will be delivered in face-to-face mode subject to coronavirus prevention protocols. Schools, particularly education, nursing and theology, will contact students about the impact on placements and professional experience.

Work-from-home capabilities for staff members

Avondale’s Lake Macquarie and Sydney campuses remain open. Managers are completing audits on work-from-home capabilities for staff members.

Q’n’A sessions

The Q’n’A sessions Avondale is hosting today for staff members and students will be accessible only via Zoom. The sessions are at the following times:
  • Staff members—Monday, March 23, 12 pm
  • Students—Monday, March 23, 4 pm

Isolated student tests negative

The Sydney-based on-campus student isolated by Avondale when they became ill has tested negative for coronavirus.



Update (current as of March 20, 2020): Isolated student tests negative

The Lake Macquarie-based on-campus student isolated by Avondale University College when they became ill has tested negative for coronavirus. Avondale released the student from isolation this morning and the student has returned to their residential hall.

Residential hall access

Avondale has limited access to the residence halls on its Lake Macquarie campus. Only on-campus students will have access to Ella Boyd and Watson Halls—Andre Hall is vacant and reserved for students who need to self-isolate. Overnight guests and off-campus students are not permitted to enter.

Q’n’A sessions: Zoom invitations

Zoom invitations for the Q’n’A sessions with staff members and students will be sent Monday morning.

Worship gatherings: Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church

Worship gatherings at Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church will move to an online-only format—via live stream—from this Saturday (March 21)—the pastoral team will record Bible studies and sermons on Fridays; the Lake Macquarie campus chaplain will host. The church is also cancelling its Saturday morning Bible-study groups and its life groups.

Pastoral care support: Students

The Lake Macquarie campus chaplain is scheduling regular video conference prayer meetings. He will, with the Student Welfare Officer, continue pastoral care support walk-throughs of the residence halls.

New episodes of the SALT Creative Podcast are online. Future episodes will cover topics suggested by students.



Update (current as of March 19, 2020): Changes to the semester one academic calendar

Avondale University College is bringing forward the mid-semester break and aligning it with the Easter long weekend as part of its response to the coronavirus. This will mean that the last day of classes before the break will be Friday, March 27, with a return to classes on Tuesday, April 14. This change is necessary to facilitate Avondale moving the majority of its classes to online mode, although as indicated below, some units will continue to be offered on-campus.

Changes to Avondale’s teaching delivery mode

In line with the fact that many of Australia’s universities are transitioning to online delivery to reduce the amount of physical contact during this period, when Avondale’s classes resume on Tuesday, April 14, most of our classes will be offered online.

Things to note regarding these changes:
  • Bringing the mid-semester break forward has been necessary to assist staff members and students to make a timely adjustment to online delivery.
  • Not all units can be offered online—this relates particularly to units that have a high level of practical components or laboratories built into them (eg., nursing, counselling, outdoor leadership, music, ceramics, etc.)—and so some units will continue to be offered in face-to-face mode.
  • Any units that may need to be continued in face-to-face mode will be conducted within the government guidelines in regard to meeting numbers and physical distancing.
  • On return from mid-semester break, Avondale will continue to operate its classes on the present timetable. In general, you will be expected to “turn up” for class at the usual time for lectures to be conducted via Zoom, unless alternate arrangements have been made by your lecturer. You will receive class meeting invitations and will need to log into your lectures. It is likely that some of the assessment tasks may need to change to align with the online mode of delivery and you will be notified of those changes in a timely manner.
  • You will be provided with more specific information regarding the mode in which the various units will be offered as your dean, head of school, course convenors, and lecturers consider all of the implications of the decision to move to online delivery.
  • Your lecturers will continue to be available to provide assistance to you.
  • Avondale will be closely monitoring your academic progress while you study online through its virtual mentor program.
  • Avondale will continue to offer accommodation to on-campus students who are not able to return home or need to attend classes on campus. They will be able to remain in the residential halls in line with the present arrangements.

Avondale’s guiding principles in responding to coronavirus:
  • Keeping staff members and students as safe as possible.
  • Maintaining a quality learning and teaching program.
  • Preparing to restore normal operations as soon as possible.

It is our aim to work through this challenging time as effectively as possible then to return to our normal program and on-campus lifestyle.

Q’n’A sessions

Avondale is planning to host Q’n’A sessions to address issues you might like to raise in regard to these plans. The sessions will be available via Zoom. They are at the following times:
  • Staff members—Monday, March 23, 12 pm, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • Students—Monday, March 23, 4 pm, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church

This is a difficult time for all of us. We will need to work together, care for ourselves, and care for each other. It is at times like this that our community shows what it is really like to have a Christian foundation to everything we do.



Update (current as of March 18, 2020): Two students in isolationAvondale University College has isolated two on-campus students—one on the Lake Macquarie campus, one on the Sydney campus—because they have become ill. The students have been tested for coronavirus and are waiting for the results. We are continuing to provide services to and care for these students following the protocols recommended by government and announced previously and described on this page.

Our Critical Incident Team is meeting daily to manage Avondale’s response to the coronavirus. We will keep you up to date with news of that response.

We are making preparations for continuity of classes by exploring a transition to online delivery for as many units as possible. We are also making preparations for continuity of services in worst-case scenarios.

Take care of yourselves and each other by following the coronavirus prevention protocols.



Update (current as of March 17, 2020): Cafeteria (Lake Macquarie campus) open only to on-campus studentsAvondale University College is limiting access to the cafeteria on its Lake Macquarie campus. Only those who have registered as on-campus students (ie. students living in the residence halls) will have access to the cafeteria until further notice.

Our priority is the safety of our community, particularly our staff members and students.

We thank you for your understanding and will notify you when the cafeteria is again available for general use.



Update (current as of March 16, 2020): Classes continuing but events postponedAvondale University College is taking the advice of the Australian Government and health experts to guide its decisions. Classes will be continuing until advised otherwise. We do not currently have a case of coronavirus on our Avondale campuses. Some practical placements in nursing and theology may be impacted but the relevant school will contact students regarding this. If you become ill, isolate yourself, let Student Life Services or Human Resources know, and contact your doctor for medical advice.

Preventative measures: International and national

The World Health Organisation has now deemed the coronavirus to be a pandemic. This has led to many countries putting in place travel restrictions and other measures in order to slow the spread of the virus. Australia has also made decisions that restrict travel to certain countries and have made recommendations in regard to preventative measures.
  • If you have returned from overseas since midnight on Sunday, March 15, 2020 (no matter your departure point), you must self-isolate for 14 days. Cruise ships will not be permitted to dock in Australia.
  • If you have been in touch with someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 14 days, and if you have symptoms, you must contact your doctor (by phone) and go to a coronavirus testing centre. State governments are putting in place serious penalties for people who do not follow the protocols for self-isolation.
  • All should follow the protocols for handwashing and social distancing (eg., no handshaking and remaining 1.5 metres apart).

Preventative measures: Avondale

In addition to the previous steps that Avondale has taken in regard to cancelling international travel on behalf of Avondale and the requirement to self-report completed international travel, Avondale has taken the following additional steps to protect its community. These protocols will be in place until further notice:
  • At this stage, classes will proceed as scheduled—this is in line with the decision of the Australian Government to keep schools and universities open.
  • The immediate postponement of events—this has meant the postponement or cancellation of the following: Festival of Faith (due to begin next week), SALT (the Friday evening program), school visits to campus, sporting competitions (due to begin this week), and Avondale Open Day (scheduled for June).
  • Should on-campus dormitory students need to self-isolate, they will do so in the vacant Andre Hall.
  • Domestic air travel to be curtailed to what is essential.
  • Zoom meetings (where appropriate) to substitute for face-to-face meetings.

Preventative measures: Working together

Remain calm. It is vital we all work together to slow down the spread of coronavirus. So, take note of all of the preventative measures recommended on government websites. If you are concerned about class attendance, contact your lecturer or course convenor in regard to the possibility of studying online. Or, if you’re concerned there is a possibility of you carrying coronavirus home to vulnerable relatives, speak to your faculty dean or departmental head to make alternative work arrangements. Avondale is monitoring the situation daily but is also putting in place planning for worst-case scenarios.

Preventative measures: Contingency plans

Avondale is working hard to develop contingency plans to prepare for any forthcoming interventions that may be necessary in the future.

Preventative measures: Stay up to date

Stay updated with the situation by consulting relevant websites:
Please keep in mind that the above protocols are in place until further notice and that they are designed to protect us all.



Update (current as of March 6, 2020): Avondale restricts international travelAvondale University College’s Administration and the Executive Committee have taken a decision for the Avondale community, including staff members and students, to cease all international travel on Avondale business, effective immediately, and until further notice. The health and safety of our staff members and students is paramount and cannot be assured if regular travel continues in this rapidly evolving situation. This decision is similar to that taken by other Australian universities and higher education providers.

If you have international travel planned or booked, please cancel or postpone your travel arrangements and do not make further bookings at this stage. Domestic travel can proceed as normal at present. The Senior Executive group will review this decision on a regular basis with updates posted to our web page and conveyed by email.

Avondale is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and its implications for overseas travel. Many countries are now reporting cases. Entry restrictions to other countries are changing often and quickly.

Any staff member who believes they have essential travel, either already booked or in planning, should take up the matter with their respective dean or department head. Ultimately, any decision on travel will be determined by the Senior Executive group and will be final.



Update (current as of February 28, 2020): Avondale and its initial responseThe Federal Government will maintain the travel ban and entry restrictions from mainland China, aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, until Saturday, March 7. The ban prevents anyone other than Australian citizens or permanent residents and their immediate families from travelling to Australia from mainland China.

The ban is being reviewed on a weekly basis.

Anyone who is able to return to Australia is still expected to isolate themselves for 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.

NSW Health is also advising individuals who have travelled from overseas in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms (fever, acute respiratory infection; eg. shortness of breath or cough) to seek medical attention.

If students or staff members have travelled overseas (whatever the destination) in the past 14 days, you have an obligation to self-report this to Student Life Services (for students) or Human Resources (for staff members).

Avondale will provide advice to students who are concerned via the website, email and SMS. Students can also access support via Student Life Services (02 4980 2148, studentlife@avondale.edu.au).

If staff members require support, they should talk to their manager. Avondale also provides support services for staff members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) via Human Resources (02 4980 2284, john.payne@avondale.edu.au).

Avondale will continue to update students and staff members as relevant information becomes available.

Should Avondale’s academic programs be impacted by the spread of the virus, be assured that Avondale will do everything possible so that students will not be disadvantaged.

Our thoughts are with our students and staff with friends and family in China and anyone who has been affected.

Answering your questions

  • The Department of Health has published a fact sheet with information for university and vocational education students and staff.
  • NSW Health has advised the risk of contracting the virus is extremely low without close contact.
  • NSW Health is updating its information regularly via its website.

Seeking medical advice

  • Any members of the Avondale community who are unwell or concerned about their health should contact their GP or a health professional. We suggest you call ahead, explaining your symptoms and recent travel history, rather than attend in person.
  • Overseas students can also call the Medibank OSHC Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283. Medibank have updated all nursing staff who take calls.
  • NSW Health is updating its information regularly via its website.
  • NSW Health has a free helpline, Health Direct, at 1800 022 222. Registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide advice when you’re not sure what to do—whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition in isolation, or go to an emergency department. (Calls are free from a landline; charges may apply from a mobile phone.)
  • The federal Department of Health has set up a 24-hour COVID-19 Health Information Line at 1800 020 080.
  • NSW Health has arranged for medical fees to be waived and covered for any international student who seeks treatment in relation to the COVID-19 issue.

Precautions to follow

  • We ask students, staff members and visitors to take the precautions advised by the public health experts including:
    • frequently clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
    • when coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
    • avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
    • if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
  • Please observe and comply with health-related signage around Avondale.
  • The World Health Organisation has more information about simple personal hygiene practices to reduce exposure to illness.

Advice for travellers

  • The Australian Government, like other governments around the world, has implemented procedures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advice for travellers, including those returning from a destination with reported cases.