|I have spent another week ‘isolated’ in my Armidale office at Booloominbah connecting to the world through Zoom. The adjusted headphones worked; sadly it is now other parts of my anatomy that are objecting to the impost of videoconferencing.
A daily check in with SET colleagues and the Special Incident Group COVID-19 means I have first-hand insight into the complex processes now supporting UNE operations. Our Sydney and Tamworth campuses are closed and the Armidale campus is very quiet, with only a few key workers attending in person on any one day to maintain the functions and facilities that keep our teaching and research moving forward. Those of us still on campus wave at each other as we pass by at a safe distance en route to grab a coffee. I was quite rightly chided for hovering too long in the café whilst grabbing lunch. Only 290 students remain in the Colleges; they are pulling their weight and maintaining a safe distance working culture.
In common with many staff, I am now looking forward to the upcoming break and have planned a few days leave.
Whilst it may feel like the only topic of conversation is about some rogue apocalyptic virus, I can affirm that it is not so. Other matters on the VC’s desk this week included a great number of contracts for services to ensure that research, teaching and related services continue. These ranged from the renewal of our support licence for the Learning Management System to agreements about research with key partners. I also signed off on the purchase of laptops, medical equipment and a contract for further work on the expansion plans for our Tamworth campus, as well as signing off on the 2019 Financial Accounts – not a trivial matter.