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COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Contractor Update 2

/ Coronavirus Contractor Updates
South West TAFE wish to keep all stakeholders updated on our business operations. Please see the email below that went to staff yesterday, Monday 23 March.

To all SWTAFE staff,

The developments that have occurred over the last 24 hours, as a result of State and Federal Government announcements, will no doubt be on many people’s minds. I write to update you on how this looks for SWTAFE.

The wellbeing of our staff, students and community is our first priority, and it’s important we continue to maintain a sense of normal in what is a very abnormal environment we find ourselves in.   

  • The Department of Education and Training (DET) has today provided clarification in regard to an early holiday closure for our students, and as a result, I’d like to outline what the plans for SWTAFE are for the weeks ahead.
  • South West TAFE student holidays will be brought forward to now commence on the evening of Tuesday 24th March instead of Friday 27th March (or as soon as practical for any students undertaking exams). 
  • This means business as normal for our teams (as per any student holidays when classes don’t occur), and the coming weeks will be a critical phase for all staff in our future planning.
  • During this time staff will be working on plans for a transition to remote or flexible learning. 
  • While this is a challenging time, it’s also an exciting one as we utilise innovative online practices to expand our ability to deliver TAFE courses using new modes in the future.

 

Physical distancing in the workplace

We want to ensure SWTAFE is observing the recommendations around physical distancing and hygiene provided by the Dept of Health.

Maintaining physical distancing within our workspaces and classrooms is an important way to help us all remain safe.

We ask all staff to implement the following for any SWTAFE workspace: 

Measure the workspace to determine the total square metres in order to determine how many people can work within this space by taking these 5 easy steps:

  1. Measure the area
  2. Multiply the width x length of the space to get total the square metres
  3. Divide the total by 4  
  4. The total is how many people can work within that space (e.g. 100 square metres divided by 4 = 25  . . . 25 people can be within this space)
  5. Note: everyone must be able to maintain 1.5m distance from one another in the space

SWTAFE gym closure

Please note the gym at SWTAFE Warrnambool Campus is closed from today and cannot be accessed by staff or students until further notice.

Warrnambool Campus Cafe

At this point in time, the Warrnambool campus café will now only provide a take-away service.

Travel Advice

In line with the communication issued on the 13 March, staff that proceeded with any personal travel overseas from this date (and are now required to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days) will need to utilise annual leave, long service leave or unpaid leave to cover this period.

Work-related travel – outside of the region

A reminder, any work-related travel outside of the south-west region is to be postponed until further notice. If you believe you have necessary work-related travel outside the south-west region this will require the approval of your relevant Executive Manager or the CEO.

Only essential travel between SWTAFE campuses and within the surrounding region is approved and this will require the approval of your Manager.

How to stay healthy

We have implemented an increase in cleaning services and change of cleaning practices, we have distributed hand hygiene and posters throughout campuses to increase knowledge of handwashing and coughing plus hand sanitisers distributed to all campuses.  We are also implementing more information about physical distancing for all staff, students, and visitors.

Remember, the best advice is to adjust our behaviour and act as if we were actually sick (even if we are not) i.e. be careful with handwashing, coughing, sneezing etc.  This simple change in behaviour will greatly assist in diminishing potential spread.

The Dept. of Health continues to stress that the most important action is to practice good hand hygiene.  They recommend taking the following steps to reduce your exposure and chances of getting ill with COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds), especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.
  • Stay home if you are sick and don’t expose others.
  • Get vaccinated for flu (influenza) when available in April. It is not yet known whether COVID-19 could significantly increase the risks of influenza infection.
  • Stop shaking hands as a greeting.


Staff well-being

Make sure you are aware of how your co-workers are feeling and support one another in staying happy and healthy. We understand some staff may have feelings of anxiety and concern in relation to the coronavirus and offer the following wellbeing advice from Beyond Blue.

Try to maintain perspective

While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.

Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage

Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s important to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family.

Access free support

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the impacts of the coronavirus then please utilise our Employee Assistance Program.  The program offers independent, professional and confidential assistance to support you when you have concerns about your health or are experiencing stress.  To make a confidential appointment please contact Shane Storer Counselling on 0423 405 822.

Access good quality information

It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources such as those listed below. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.


Helping our students

Our Student Wellbeing team is available to assist all students and is always happy to chat, particularly during this time when it can have an impact on how our students may be feeling. Please pass on these details to any students who may be in need of some additional support:


Have any questions?

Our Management team will play a key role in the dissemination of information and assist with planning.  Should you have any queries in relation to any coronavirus issues (including leave) your manager should be your first point of contact for these queries.

If your manager is unable to assist they will liaise with the Incident Response Team via incident.response@swtafe.edu.au.

We have also created an information portal on the SWTAFE Intranet that can be accessed for the latest information and updates for both staff and students.



Thanks team

I’ve been so impressed with how our SWTAFE community has come together to support one another and maintain a sense of perspective as we face continued challenges.
 
Rest assured we will continue to communicate with you and provide regular updates to all staff and students.
 
Please let us know if there are questions that you don’t feel are being answered by sending an email to incident.response@swtafe.edu.au.
 
Stay healthy and look after one another,
 
Kind regards,
Mark Fidge
CEO – South West TAFE