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COVID-19 information for students

Whakamahukitanga mo te Mate Kurahauao – Mō ngā tauira

New Zealand is in the Orange Level.

Get tested

Updated: 20 July 2022

Anyone with cold or flu like symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested for COVID‑19 and isolate at home until a negative test result is returned. This includes anyone who is vaccinated.

The most common early symptoms of the Omicron variant are a sore or scratchy throat, and a runny nose. If you have these symptoms, please get tested as soon as possible.

Tests can be obtained online or at the Malcolm Street testing centre. Tests are free and need to be picked from a collection site near you – someone else can collect on your behalf.

Request a test kit online.

Alternatively, call the freephone number 0800 222 478 (within New Zealand).

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Exposure to COVID‑19 – what steps to take

Updated: 22 July 2022

If you have tested positive for COVID‑19

  • Self-isolate immediately following the Government guidelines
  • Let someone – staff at your residential college, flatmates, family know you are sick
  • Advise AskOtago
  • Let your classes know so they can provide support for your learning
  • Report any positive test results. Reporting your COVID‑19 results may assist in the process for obtaining a Health declaration for special consideration applications, should one be required for missed assessments.

Exposure to COVID‑19 – what support is available

There is a range of support available to you which you can find on our COVID‑19 welfare website.

COVID‑19 welfare website

This includes:

  • Pūtea Tautoko Student Relief Fund – set up by the University to provide assistance to students facing financial challenges as a result of COVID‑19. All Otago students studying in New Zealand can apply for help from this fund.
  • OUSA Student Support – is here for anything life can throw at you: academics, flatting, tenancy, finances, wellbeing, safety; or if you just need a chat with someone who gets it. The professional team at Student Support are here and ready to help! There is pretty much nothing they can't help with. All services are free, confidential, and available to any University of Otago student at all campuses.
  • Student Health – provides a full range of primary health care services and advice to all Otago students based in Dunedin, but due to staff shortages and illness, GP appointment capacity is currently reduced.

Mental Health links:

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Teaching from July 11 2022

University will be commencing semester 2 with in-person teaching (with mask wearing). It is expected that students attend class unless they are unwell.

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Updated: 20 July 2022

Mandatory COVID‑19 vaccines

Changes to the mandatory vaccination Health Order:

There have been changes to the Public Health Order which relates to mandatory vaccinations and it will now affect fewer University of Otago staff than previously.

The new definitions are below.

Health practitioners and care and support workers are still required to be vaccinated.

However, it is no longer necessary for everyone who works in the same building where health care services are provided to be vaccinated. Only those who are employed or engaged by a general practice, pharmacy or certified provider (hospitals, rest homes, residential care facilities, fertility facilities), and who work within two metres of a health practitioner or patient for more than 15 minutes are now mandated to be vaccinated.

The wording of the new Order says the following groups are to be vaccinated:

  • Health practitioners providing health services to patients in person
  • Workers who are employed or engaged by a general practice or a pharmacy and whose role involves being within two metres or less of a health practitioner or a member of the public for a period of 15 minutes or more
  • Workers who are employed or engaged by a certified provider and who, as part of their ordinary duties, come within two metres or less of a healthpractitioner or a person to whom health care services are provided for a period of 15 minutes or more
  • Care and support workers

The changes to the Order took effect on 7 July 2022.


There is currently no change to the requirements and face masks remain mandatory on campus (unless exemption applies) for the following groups:

  • Staff in Disability Information and Support, as these staff work closely with students at higher risk of severe illness from COVID‑19
  • Researchers (staff and students) working with populations at higher risk of severe illness from COVID‑19 (e.g., people with disabilities or cancer patients)
  • Researchers (staff and students) involved in studying the COVID virus itself
  • Customer facing workers in cafes, retail and Unipol
  • Customers in retail shops e.g. the Campus Shop
  • Staff and users of the Hocken Library

For all other staff, face masks are strongly recommended at all other times while indoors. The Government announced on 14 July it would be making medical grade masks available to all, for free, when collecting RAT tests.

Request RAT tests, which are also available free for all, online.

As an overarching principle general rule, it is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when indoors around other people. This applies particularly whenever you are moving around a building, in shared and public spaces where people are in close proximity, or in other situations where is hard to physically distance from other people such as meetings, lifts, corridors and stairwells for example.

Wearing a mask indoors provides personal protection and those wearing a mask, or who have a mask exemption, should be treated with respect.

Medical grade masks provide a good level of protection and are readily available. N95 masks provide a higher level of protection and are also available for staff where physical distancing is challenging. Please order your masks through the standard supply chain process.

Overall, for our personal and community good, please consider our core public health measures to reduce the risk of infection: vaccination for COVID‑19 and influenza, boosters, mask wearing, physical distancing where possible, mask wearing and staying at home if unwell/symptomatic.

A reminder: if you have tested positive for COVID‑19, we can help with support and health advice if you let us know by contacting AskOtago on 0800 80 80 98 or +64 21 279 0202

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For information on research, including mask use and fieldwork guidelines, please see information on our COVID‑19 staff webpage.

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Updated: 20 July 2022

There are no capacity limits in our libraries. Masks are mandatory in the Hocken Library and strongly recommended in all other libraries where physical distancing is not possible.

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On-campus businesses

Our on-campus business including cafes and Unipol are open and operating without capacity limits or physical distancing.

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Contact tracing

Although contract tracing is not required under Orange Level, all University buildings will retain QR Codes at present. It also recommended that staff and students are logged into the University Wi-Fi when on campus, should contact tracing be needed.

COVID‑19 Contact Tracing – Privacy Statement

COVID‑19 Contact Tracing Information means information collected in electronic and paper-based COVID‑19 building access registers, and derived from the University’s IT network, timetabling and electronic card access systems, which identifies physical proximity between individuals on campus capable of increasing the risk of transmission of COVID‑19.

As with all personal information collected by the University, COVID‑19 Contact Tracing Information will be handled in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993 and the University’s Policy on Access to, and Use of, Personal Information.

COVID‑19 Contact Tracing Information is collected and accessed by the University for the purpose of contact tracing aimed at decreasing the risk of transmission of COVID‑19, and may be supplied to the Medical Officer of Health and/or appropriate government agencies for those purposes.

COVID‑19 Contact Tracing Information will be securely stored and permanently deleted once no longer reasonably required for contact tracing purposes.

As a business we are required to provide data to contact tracing teams.

Contact tracing upload tool privacy statement for businesses and organisations (PDF)

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