Some departments and lectures across multiple divisions have reportedly “pushed the ‘go’ button” on distance learning, despite the University telling them not to. Students are praising these acts of rebellion.
A limit of 100 people attending indoor events was announced by the Minister for Health on Thursday. A University Spokeswoman confirmed that lectures were exempt from this ban.
For the past week, the University has told departments to “prepare” to go online, but has not made the call to cancel physical lectures. Before the 100-person limit on mass gatherings was announced, Critic was contacted by staff and students from multiple departments claiming that their lectures would be taught online with or without the University’s blessing.
Departments caught trying to go online have been scolded. In a message from the Vice Chancellor to her Pro-Vice Chancellors, which filtered down to other staff, Harlene Hayne said it “is not okay for some departments to push the ‘go’ button for distance teaching independent of a University-wide decision - this only causes confusion for our students, their parents, and our staff.”
Some lecturers are risking punishment nevertheless, saying they would “never forgive” themselves if they got their students sick. Another lecturer is doing it to avoid community transmission between students who may already be sick. The University said students who are currently sick are already being told to stay away from lectures.
The University said they are “working tirelessly to monitor the situation” and that the staff have been “gear[ing] up for online learning”.
A spokesperson also said, “We do want to reassure you that the University is planning for all scenarios that could occur with this situation and we will provide updates … as quickly as possible. We cannot state strongly enough we are prepared.” The University has a “special section” in their Covid-19 website for students, which is being regularly updated.
One student whose lecturers have moved class online asked to remain anonymous to protect their lecturers. They said, “having lecturers go out of their way for us makes me feel like they not only care about our learning, but also our physical and mental wellbeing ... I think this is really important for students who have health concerns for themselves, as well as their flatmates, families and other students at uni.”
Despite knowing that the uni is preparing to go online if required, this student is “disappointed that the uni itself hasn’t been more proactive in giving all classes at least the option to go online without repercussions to lecturers and/or students. We pay them a lot of money to keep us safe and to learn productively"