|With students returning to campus to start the new academic year and the threat of an epidemic looming, much of my focus is on the decision making around travel (exchanges, study abroad programmes and conferences), the management of large scale events (Open Day, Graduations) to enable effective social distancing and the provision of suitable support in high density accommodation.
UNE, in common with many organisations, is already supporting a few staff and students who have elected to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure whilst tests for possible COVID-19 infection are completed. We have instigated a range of public health protection measures (e.g. changes to cleaning rotas in public spaces, provision of hand sanitizers and tissues, and updated notes in personal hygiene, advance preparation of quarantine suites) to ensure that the UNE community is engaged in both prevention and containment. As Autumn wraps chilly arms around us all here in New England, the cold and flu season will also bear down on upon us adding the risk of an additional health care burden.
I have discovered how hard it is to stop holding out one’s hand out in greeting at social functions and when meeting friends and colleagues! Changing old habits is very hard. During the course of a lovely dinner at Mary White College to celebrate 2020 Commencement, the students were keen to share some novel practices for a ‘hands-free’ greeting – there is work to be done here! Walking from meeting to meeting across campus, I was also stopped by many of our students as they too amble around seeking lecture rooms and heading to the library – their enthusiasm, unending good humour and the generous warmth of their engagement is so uplifting.