Covid-19: Universities switch to online learning for Semester 1 as Omicron looms
The University of Auckland is moving most of its teaching online until the mid-term break due to the threat of Omicron.
The university’s executive committee announced the decision on Thursday, saying it wanted to give students and staff clarity and predictability.
The decision comes shortly after the university decided to move exams online for 2022 regardless of Covid-19 traffic light settings.
A statement from the university said it was much better to give people certainty in advance than the disruption that would be caused by a change in the learning environment in the short term.
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Exceptions could be made by faculties and institutes for on-campus learning for practical components such as tutorials or workshops, if it could be demonstrated that this would lead to the best teaching results .
The change would come into effect on February 28.
Any teaching activities already underway, such as the summer school, could continue in person under red lights.
Campuses would remain open during the temporary shift so students could use services such as libraries, study spaces, student health and counseling services, and disability services.
The university said the framework would be reviewed in mid-March, or sooner, depending on guidance from the government and the Higher Education Commission.
In a statement, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington said it plans to continue on-campus and online learning in the first semester.
“Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington will continue to prioritize dual delivery and an on-campus experience for as long and as safe as possible.”
A spokeswoman for the University of Waikato said the university has not made any decisions about moving online-only at this stage.
However, he was monitoring what was happening in the community with guidance from the Ministry of Education.
The university was well prepared to adapt its teaching and would communicate with students if anything should change, the spokeswoman said.
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) said it would confirm its approach by February 14.
The University of Otago said all lectures will be online during the first part of the first semester.
“Conferences tend to be our biggest teaching events, so we decided it would give you some certainty if you knew these would be online until at least the middle of the semester. It will also help limit the spread of the virus among students and staff,” Vice-Chancellor Professor David Murdoch said in an email to students.
“Tutorials, labs and other small groups should be able to be in person. Our teaching staff are preparing online options where possible in case you cannot come to class because you are sick or have to self-isolate.
However, “we need to be flexible in how we operate, and there will likely be some short-term changes,” Murdoch said.
Unitec Institute of Technology said it was taking a cautious approach and if teaching and learning could be delivered online, it was encouraged.
“Where classes continue on campus, for example our trades-based courses, we will continue to do so in accordance with red level safety protocols.”
The University of Canterbury has been contacted for comment.