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COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Student Update 4

/ Coronavirus Student Updates
We are a community here at SWTAFE and this is a challenging time for us all. It is now several days into this critical response to COVID-19 virus and I would like to share with you the latest information.

We continue to remain vigilant to the potential risk to our staff, students and community and the Department of Education and Training (DET) is providing daily updates to all TAFEs in this rapidly evolving situation.

  • It is important to note that currently there is no change to our operations. This means until advice of any change all TAFEs will continue to operate as normal in delivering training to our students.
  • In regard to any potential changes to operations of TAFEs, the Dept. of Education will follow the expert advice and directions provided by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and provide any necessary directives to us.
  • Currently, the advice of Dr Brett Sutton, Victorian Chief Health Officer, is that ‘pre-emptive school closures are not likely to be proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time’.
  • As the situation continues to change rapidly, our Management and Incident Response Teams are focusing efforts on planning for how SWTAFE will adjust its operations to ensure we can adapt as the situation evolves. 
  • We are preparing for all scenarios and we will be providing prompt and clear advice when the time comes.
  • Rest assured that you will receive detailed advice, a step-by-step guide and communication resources to support you in the event of any change to operations.
  • We have also 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.

Travel advice

On Friday 13  March we circulated details relating to overseas travel.  This advice has now changed, and the Australian Government have escalated the travel advice to Level 4 (level 4 of 4): Do Not Travel overseas at this time.  As of Monday 16 March, all people entering Australia will be required to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the time of entering back into Australia.

If you are a student in this situation, please contact incident.response@swtafe.edu.au and advise us of the following:

  • First name
  • Surname
  • SWTAFE Course
  • Campus
  • Travel location
  • Date of departure
  • Date of return from the overseas country
  • Planned return to study date

SWTAFE Excursions

From today The Department of Education and Training has advised that all excursions are to be postponed or rescheduled. If excursions cannot be rescheduled, they will be cancelled and students will be refunded.  Please discuss any refunds with your teacher.

Events and gatherings

From Wednesday 18 March the Australian Government called for non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people to be cancelled, and outdoor mass gatherings of more than 500 people to be cancelled.
From today all SWTAFE events will be postponed or cancelled until 30 June 2020.
This recommendation does not mean the closure of schools and TAFEs, as they are considered essential services by the Government.

How to stay healthy

The best advice is to adjust our behaviour and act as if we were actually sick (even if we are not) ie. be careful with hand washing, 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 per cent 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, kissing or hugging as a greeting.

Student wellbeing

We understand some students 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

Our Student Wellbeing team are available to assist all students and always happy to chat, particularly during this time.  Feel free to contact any of our team members:

Access good quality information

It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control as you try to filter information from so many sources.  These are the trusted sites for accurate and up-to-date info:

Have any questions?

If you have any questions you can contact our Customer Service Teams or speak to your teacher.  If they are unable to assist they will liaise with the Incident Response Team incidentresponse@swtafe.edu.au

We have also created an information portal on the SWTAFE website that can be accessed for the latest information, FAQ’s and student updates:
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL UPDATES FROM SOUTH WEST TAFE

Thank you

Thank you for your understanding as we manage through this challenging period.  We will continue to communicate with you all as the situation evolves and provide regular updates to all staff and students. 

If there are important questions that you don’t feel are being answered please let us know via incident.response@swtafe.edu.au

Stay healthy and look after one another.

Kind regards,
Mark Fidge
CEO - South West TAFE