Tuesday 24 March

This is a message to all students from Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford.

Dear all,

I hope you have been able to fully use the brief window before New Zealand goes into ‘lockdown’ to complete your personal arrangements before we confront the challenging period ahead.

Please visit our website regularly to stay up to date with information on our response to the implementation of COVID-19 alert level 4 and the resultant closure of Victoria University of Wellington.

As I have previously advised, teaching has been paused until Tuesday 28 April when it will resume online.

We are regularly updating academic information that is relevant to you, covering such things as assessment and exams, tutorials, field trips, labs and internships, and the upcoming Student Engagement Day on Thursday 2 April. You can find all the latest information.

COVID-19 positive test

The confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test for a staff member has been a concern to us all. Since being notified of the positive test result, staff in the building worked from home, the building was closed, and the space was subjected to a special clean. A small number of staff have been identified as close contacts and their details have been provided to Regional Public Health, which is responsible for contact tracing. As mentioned in my email yesterday, the chance of transmission to anyone else is extremely low.

In order to protect the privacy of the individual with the positive test and the close contacts, I am not able to offer any other specifics except that the office is in a self-contained building on the Kelburn campus.

Since Monday 23 March Student Health has been working with Regional Public Health to contact those staff and students that have been specifically identified as casual contacts. This has now been completed. This has enabled us to check on the wellbeing of those individuals. All general enquiries from staff and students who have raised concerns directly with the University have also been contacted and reassured of the process of keeping themselves safe.

Campus shutdown

From 11.59 pm tomorrow night (Wednesday), the University will be in lockdown. If you need to access any part of the University after this time, please visit the Campus Security office at 4 Wai-te-ata Road.

Libraries

The physical libraries are closed. However, our online library is still open. You can access a wide range of articles, eBooks, and online resources by searching Te Waharoa. If you aren’t sure how to search Te Waharoa, check out our video. And if you need any assistance please email us at library@vuw.ac.nz. The team here is ready to help. More information and updates are available on our website.

If you have books that are due to be returned to the Library, please hold on to them and return them when we re-open. All fines for overdue items will be waived during this period.

Admission and enrolments

A full service is being provided via email with the exception of issuing and replacing student ID cards. We will be putting in place a process for authenticating identity documents to allow this service to continue.

Student finance

A full service is being provided via email. The electronic exchange of fee and enrolment information to/from StudyLink will continue.

All student tuition payments will need to be made online via the payment portal.

Student finance advisers will use Zoom to hold meetings with students.

Faculties' Student Academic Services teams

The faculties’ student and academic services teams remain available to assist you with enrolment advice and processing, degree and course planning, withdrawals from courses, graduation, and processing of student administration letters and forms. We will continue to provide e-transcripts. However, we will not be able to process any requests for hard copies.

Please email your faculty office or student adviser should you require help with any of the above or related matters.

Accommodation

As advised yesterday, we are closing halls and University accommodation and have asked students who can return home to do so.

It is necessary to group some pastoral care and support for students remaining in our accommodation, and to ensure staffing continuity and wellbeing of students and staff.

All students staying at 222 Willis, Education House, University Halls, and Stafford House self-catered halls at Victoria University of Wellington can remain in the hall they are currently located in during the level 4 crisis, although some room changes may be needed. We have plans in place to support Everton Hall residents.

All first year students and Whānau House residents will be relocated to Weir House. Wherever possible we will keep all residents from each hall in close proximity.

Our hall staff also continue to support students in self-isolation.

Self-isolation processes stay the same. Students must remain in their self-isolation accommodation for the duration of their mandated period. They can go home after the self-isolation period. If they cannot return home, the University will accommodate them at Weir House.

If students staying in Wellington in flats require support from the University, they should get in touch through our contact centre: 0800 04 04 04.

Pharmacy

The pharmacy on Kelburn campus will continue to operate on reduced hours. Hours of operation will be 10 am–4 pm for the rest of this week and 10 am–3 pm next week. Access to the pharmacy is via the Kelburn Parade entrance.

Āwhina

Āwhina is offering online support via Zoom, email and social media. Staff will be contacting all Māori students via phone and Zoom for academic wellbeing checks. The team is also working with all Māori student associations to ensure tauira are staying connected—Ngāi Tauira (Māori Students’ Association), Ngā Taura Umanga (Māori Commerce Students’ Association), Ngā Rangahautira (Māori Law Students Association).

Pasifika Student Support (PSS) team

The Pasifika Student Success Team remains available to support Pasifika students through online contact, such as Zoom and Skype, and by email, text, or phone. Please check the Pasifika webpage for details of your faculty contact or use the contact details below. Where possible, the PSS may offer online Zoom sessions on topics that we have covered in the past such as scholarship information evenings. Watch the Pasifika website or social media for information.

The Pasifika Mentoring Programme will continue to be delivered through online platforms, and many mentors and mentees have already started this process.

The PSS team will be contacting Pasifika students to check on wellbeing, and see if there is anything we can help with.

Contact the Pasifika Student Success Team either through email on pasifika-student-success@vuw.ac.nz or call the manager, Aaron Nonoa, on 027 4375 157, or senior adviser Jenny Taotua on 027 563 5842.

Further updates

We will provide further information on a range of matters through our website, which is updated regularly.

Although it will be some time until we can meet again I look forward to when we can all return to the University and meet again, kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face). For now, be kind, stay strong, and above all please reach out for support as and when you need to so.

Professor Grant Guilford
Vice-Chancellor