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COVID–19 information for parents

Whakamahukitanga mo te Mate Kurahauao – Mō ngā mātua

A message from the Vice-Chancellor on semester 2

Tēnā koutou,

As we transition into Alert Level 1, I wanted to share with you an update on what that means for us here at the University of Otago.

From the beginning of semester 2 we are looking forward to welcoming back all our students, staff and domestic visitors to our campuses. Face-to-face lectures, tutorials, labs, and seminars will resume without restrictions unless there is a change in Alert Level and research activities can return to normal immediately, including student research projects.

All semester 1 exams and final assessments will continue to be delivered online as planned.

We are expecting that all students who are enrolled in courses that are being delivered on campus will be on campus for those courses in semester 2. Arrangements for exceptions to this - overseas students unable to return to campus due to border restrictions, or domestic students unable to return on health grounds or due to exceptional financial and/or family circumstances, are covered below.

International students

Owing to the continued closure of New Zealand borders, we will be working individually with our international students currently based overseas on options, where possible, for online study in semester 2. If you fit this category and have not been contacted, please contact AskOtago.

Tel: 0800 808 098 or +64 3 479 7000
Email: university@otago.ac.nz

Students with underlying health conditions

Students who are unable to return to campuses at Alert Level 1 for health reasons are asked to contact our Disability and Support Information Services team to confirm a study plan for the semester.

Tel: +64 3 479 8235
Email: disabilities@otago.ac.nz 

Financial pressure

Where COVID‑19 has caused financial pressure, or other substantial barriers, that may make it difficult to resume on campus classes, students should apply to for the Pūtea Tautoko financial support fund. This fund (see below) can provide significant support where required. Where exceptional family circumstances are a barrier to resume on campus classes, please contact AskOtago, who will arrange for an appropriate person to discuss this further with you.

Tel: 0800 808 098 or +64 3 479 7000
Email: university@otago.ac.nz

Residential colleges

Our residential colleges, which have remained open at all Alert Levels, have incorporated additional wellness checks for their residents and continue to provide hygiene support and advice. These will continue during semester 2.

Campus facilities

All facilities on all campuses, including our libraries, cafes, and study spaces, will resume normal hours and operations from the start of semester 2.

Health advice

Basic health advice and guidelines remain in place for students and staff:

  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Make basic hygiene steps part of your usual routine:
    • Wash your hands
    • Sneeze and cough into your elbow
    • Do not touch your face
  • Keep a track of where you’ve been. The University is providing QR codes on campus to be used with the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Pūtea Tautoko fund for students under financial pressure

The Pūtea Tautoko fund is open to all University of Otago students, whether you are a New Zealand or international student, full-time or part-time, undergraduate, or postgraduate. This fund will continue to operate through semester 2 and beyond, and applications may be made online through your eVision portal.

The University has committed NZ$1.5 million as an initial investment to support Otago students. The government has provided significant additional funding, and alumni, staff, and friends of the University are contributing generously too.

Applications are strongly encouraged and will be considered by several panels; all include student representation. The panels robustly assess need, using tools we already have, to assess applications for existing support funds, and for our need-based scholarships.

Over 350 students have already been granted support from this fund since it was launched in April.

Student Health

Student Health will be providing a full range of primary health care services and advice in-person and via telehealth to all Otago students.

To reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses there are some permanent changes to how we provide services.

Full details can be found here.

In closing, I want to thank our team of 5 million who have helped keep COVID-19 under control in New Zealand. Through our collective hard work, we can now return to our new normal. I am particularly proud of our academics here at the University of Otago who have significantly contributed to the Government’s response to COVID-19. Please click here to see a summary of how University of Otago academic staff stepped up with great courage, knowledge, and leadership during this difficult for our country and the rest of the world.

Nāku noa, nā,

Professor Harlene Hayne
Vice-Chancellor