University of Sydney update regarding COVID-19

13 March 2020
Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence today sought advice from NSW's Chief Medical Officer to confirm whether any extra measures were needed to better protect the health of staff and students, and the broader community.

In light of that conversation, Dr Spence has written to staff and students to announce the following new policies:

University events

From Monday 16 March, all University events and events hosted on our campuses including student, academic and public events and conferences will be cancelled. This includes graduations. Students will be graduated in absentia and offered the opportunity to attend a ceremony later in the year.  A decision about when events will be resumed will be made at the beginning of Semester 2.

This does not extend to our regular teaching and research activity at this stage.

Moving teaching online

Staff are being encouraged to progressively move as much of our teaching online as possible for the duration of this pandemic. 

This will reduce the reduce the number of students on campus and encourage greater social distancing and help the university be better prepared if a closure is required at some stage.

Preparations for a temporary campus closure

The university’s Pandemic Response teams are preparing for multiple scenarios ranging from closing an affected building for cleaning, asking staff to work from home where possible, suspending all teaching temporarily or if necessary, suspending all non-critical operations of the University.

A final decision will depend on a number of factors, including the number of confirmed cases in our staff and student community, the location of these cases across campus, and the advice of NSW Health.

Supporting our staff 

Recognising the loyalty and commitment of our casual staff, measures have been introduced today to support them if they are required to self-isolate, become ill with Covid-19, or have to care for someone who is required to self-isolate or becomes ill with Covid-19.

The measure includes access to special paid leave for self-isolation or illness due to COVID-19, or in the event the campus is closed, and they are unable to work from home. The special paid leave will cover any rostered hours that they have to miss in a 10 working day period. 

International travel

Given the increased health risk, all staff and students are strongly advised not to book or commence any international travel until further notice. Any travel undertaken may not be covered by the University’s travel insurance. Staff and students already overseas are not required to return home but will be offered assistance if they would like to do so.