COVID-19 College Update (26 March 2020)

Principal’s Address To College

https://youtu.be/43QNPZQoTUI

General Information

For general COVID-19 updates we encourage you to visit the NSW Health page for the most up-to-date and factual information.

Letter From The Principal and Chair of Council

Dear members of St Andrew’s College,

Like thousands of organisations around the world, the St Andrew’s College community has been working tirelessly to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and support those affected by the unfolding pandemic. Last night, the College Council met to reflect upon these circumstances and decide on the next phase of the College’s response.

Following a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that St Andrew’s College can reduce any risks to our students, staff and their families and communities if students return to their family homes where possible. In particular, by isolating into smaller household groups we can contribute positively to our national social and economic challenge of flattening the curve. We have therefore decided that students in a position to return home must do so over the coming days.

This decision, which was not made lightly, reflects the gravity of the evolving public health emergency we are facing and is consistent with the medical advice we have sought.

We recognise and regret the inconvenience caused by these necessary measures, and intend to give you several days to arrange your departure. My expectation is that you will have returned home by no later than this Friday 27 March, and that you will inform our Registrar Tessa Bruin (registrar@standrewscollege.edu.au) once you have departed. Please be aware that you will be unable to return to College until restrictions have been lifted. Any ‘last hurrah’ parties would show blatant disregard for the seriousness of the threat the Australian community is facing.

Upon departure, you may of course leave any possessions in your room, unless your room is in the Hanks Building. As advised in previous communications, rooms in the Hanks Building will be required to house students who may need to be isolated. Any possessions that you are unable to take home will be stored in a locked and secure place on site. If you need to access urgently any of your possessions after you depart, please liaise with Tessa.

There may be some students who are unable to return home. We remain committed to accommodating – and providing essential services such as food, cleaning and maintenance to – people in this position. If you believe that you are eligible to remain at College, please contact Tessa Bruin to arrange an appointment to see me this Wednesday or Thursday and discuss your circumstances. Those permitted to remain must continue to comply with strict hygiene and physical distancing measures, and may not bring guests onsite.

Those students whose circumstances require them to remain in College may be asked to relocate to other rooms, consistent with the need to thin the density in our community

It has been said throughout history that if the buildings of St Andrew’s College burnt down, the College would continue to exist; Andrew’s is not a collection of bedrooms and facilities, but a community. For reasons other than fire, our buildings cannot be inhabited for at least the remainder of the semester, but our community will continue to thrive thanks to the thousands of online conversations that will take place over the coming weeks and the digital programs that we will be running until things get back to normal. In other words, although we must close our campus for the safety of our community and the Australian community at large, at no point will we be closing St Andrew’s College.

Many students have already participated in a survey on the types of online programs they would like to engage with in the coming weeks. We have heard a range of ideas, including a College podcast, an alumni mentoring program, informal catch-ups, language courses, professional skills workshops, academic skills workshops, art competitions, poker, an investment club, and so on. Our staff and student leaders will be working tirelessly to make these – and other – offerings available online. We will also be helping other communities affected by COVID-19; some students have already requested to take part in a rural mentoring program designed to support HSC students whose studies have been affected detrimentally.

Whilst the Council’s first priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and staff, there are of course financial implications to be considered. Due to the uncertainty around the duration of a suspended College campus, the financial implications are also uncertain at this stage. During the coming weeks a further announcement will be made regarding any decision by Council relating to Semester 1 or Semester 2 fees.

Although we are all disappointed that the first semester has not turned out the way we had hoped, there is a great deal to celebrate. We welcomed the largest Fresher cohort in the history of St Andrew’s College in anticipation of a year full of fun and success, and got off to a great start with a tremendous Welcome Week, victories in the intercollegiate creative arts and sporting competitions, and hosted an array of fun social events. The Thyne-Reid Link opened following a long period of construction and was met by all with enthusiasm and excitement. We look ahead to the time when the restrictions can be lifted and on-campus activities can resume.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that the closure of our campus does not equate to the closure of College. Our Council, staff and student leaders are committed to making the most out of this situation and ensuring that everyone’s connection to this wonderful community remains strong.

Regular updates will be shared with our College community through this period. We of course look ahead to the time when these restrictions can be lifted and our College community can be welcomed back to campus. Please take care of yourself and each other in the coming weeks and keep in touch by either reading the regular email newsletter or monitoring social media.

This has been a most difficult decision, and I am very sorry for the impact that it will have on so many members of our College family. Thank you for your support. Warmest regards, and my very best wishes for continued good health for you and those you love.

Wayne Erickson (Principal) & Charlie Taylor (Chair of Council)