Friday 20 March 2020
We come to the end of what has been a particularly unusual and stressful week. Our world is changing significantly as we prepare for the strange times ahead, and across the world everyone is trying to anticipate what might be ahead of us. To reassure everyone, there are still no known or suspected cases of coronavirus COVID-19 at any of the Kangan Institute campuses as at 4pm Friday March 20. All campuses will be open Monday as normal.
We are getting a lot of questions about our facilities being open and we understand that is of concern to many students, parents and staff. We must legally stay operating until there is a health-related reason to close, or until we are ordered to by the Department of Education and Training. Meanwhile, we are working hard to transfer our working and teaching capability to an online model where possible, so that we can deliver classes digitally at a local level. This means we will continue to practice and pilot these new processes as much we can – we want to be sure we are set up and ready to switch mode when we need to. An extraordinary amount of work has gone into this over the past week, and our IT team has moved mountains to get us to this level of capability.
As well as confirming that schools, TAFEs and universities will remain open and operating, the Prime Minister today clarified that all essential services are exempt from needing to enforce the new 4sqm social distancing requirement. This is impractical for schools, this health service and the Cabinet our work-around is to continue to be vigilant about personal hygiene practices and stay home if you have a cold or flu.
Please be reassured that all of this remains part of our ongoing conversation with the Department, and should anything change in terms of our requirement to keep our doors physically open, we will let everyone know quickly.
As we continue with our preparation to be capable of delivering classes using online teaching channels, it has been fantastic to see our Bendigo TAFE and Kangan Institute community come together and support each other with the workload. This is exactly what we all need to do across our work and home networks. Thank you all.
Stress and worry at this time is absolutely normal and if you need support, please reach out. But while there is no community transmission of coronavirus in Australia, the only way to contract this virus is through direct exposure and therefore the panic we are seeing across our community is currently more damaging than the virus’ actual impact. The personal hygiene instructions, strict social gathering and border controls measures the Government has put in place, is intended to slow the spread of the virus. The panic buying we are seeing across Australia is not necessary and not helping people’s general state of mind. If you can play a small part in reassuring any of the people in your network, please do.
To reiterate, at this stage we have no coronavirus cases. Classes are on, campuses are open. If you are at work, please demonstrate your own personal responsibility with regular hand washing after using kitchens and restrooms. Hand washing is simple and effective in fighting any virus, including coronavirus.
We are aware that some students are choosing not to come to class, and that a number of staff are taking sick leave/personal leave to remove themselves from any potential risk. This is appropriate, as your health and well-being is very important, and while only a relatively small number of people around Australia have coronavirus, the stress for people who are worried they might become ill can be immense.
Some staff and students are also concerned that by being out in the community or at TAFE, they are putting other family with health issues at risk. If this is the case for you, please consider what you can do to limit that exposure to any vulnerable people by using strict personal hygiene practices and social distancing, just as you would if you had a cold or flu.
The current official guidance regarding self-isolation remains as follows:
Everyone arriving into Australia from overseas from midnight, Sunday 15 March, must self-isolate for 14 days. This refers to the person who travelled and is a precautionary measure. It does not mean the traveller is infected.
Anyone who has been a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days ‘Close contact’ is defined by Department of Health and Human Services as someone who has had at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, or shared a closed space with someone who has a confirmed case, for more than two hours.
What you need to do:
Not everyone will get Coronavirus, but regardless, you should take every step possible to care for yourself and everyone around you. Your easiest and best defence starts with your own basic personal hygiene:
· Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using the toilet
· Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
· Use tissues and discard immediately
Even without a global health emergency, staying home when sick is the best defence against the spread of the common cold, the flu, and now also coronavirus COVID -19. There is an international shortage of hand sanitizer, we are no different to any other organisation with this issue, so please do not keep asking our facilities staff for this. Soap and water should be your friend; please wash your hands.
More important health information:
The Victorian Chief Medical Officer’s advice remains that most people who contract the virus will experience symptoms like a bad cold or flu. Please be sensible with your personal health care. Wash your hands regularly and properly, which means rubbing your hands together for at least 30 seconds using soap and warm water. If you have existing health issues which mean you are particularly vulnerable, please do what you need to in order to limit your physical contact with other people.
Please be mindful that some media reports may not have the most accurate or up to date information, and we recommend you check official sites, including:
Please take time to relax and recharge over the weekend, and we will see everyone Monday.
Bendigo TAFE & Kangan Institute