Thursday, 26 March 2020

Dear UWA staff

Well we are still standing – just! Hopefully you are too. The last two days have seen intense discussions across the nation and across campus with mixed messaging and the inevitable confusion that occurs at times like these. For sure a few things from Canberra came out wrong. For sure we have made the odd blunder here and there. But we are here and we have achieved a week of online tuition that many thought we could never do! Bravo!

In short:

  • Changes to Semester 1 dates
  • Easter Tuesday
  • Student assessment
  • Working from home

Changes to Semester 1 dates

In response to feedback from staff and students, there will be an additional tuition free week from 6 to 9 April. This will be followed by the Easter break and scheduled mid-semester break from 15 - 17 April, effectively providing teaching staff with two weeks to transition more fully to online teaching. The extra week of teaching will be made up at the end of semester to guarantee students receive 12 weeks of teaching.

30 March - 3 April

Online classes continue

6 - 9 April

Tuition free week

10 - 14  April

Easter break (UWA closed)

15 - 17 April

Mid-Semester break

20 April

Online lectures and tutorials resume

Dates for other teaching periods may also be adapted and more information will be made available next week.

Easter Tuesday

The efforts to be agile and innovative have surprised many of you – at least that’s what you tell me. I am delighted for you and what you have achieved thus far. But it’s been a slog – and February now seems a long time ago. In appreciation of the collective dedication and the additional discretionary effort that many staff have invested in ensuring teaching and operations continue, this Easter Tuesday will be a University holiday . Staff will not be required to work on this day unless directed otherwise, and the Easter Tuesday holiday will still be given to staff over the Christmas break. I hope you are able to take some time out to rest and, where you can, spend time with your family.

Working from home

In recognition of the recent announcements by the State and Federal Governments, all staff at the University are now encouraged to work from home wherever possible. Staff in roles that are essential to the operations of the University and that cannot be done from home will need to continue coming on to campus. Line managers will work to ensure this process is managed in an orderly and co-ordinated manner and transition arrangements may be applicable. Please discuss this with your manager.

To facilitate home based work, we have developed a streamlined procedure that specifically addresses the unique situation created by COVID-19. The procedure includes an online Working from Home Form to be filled out by an employee and their manager.

There are also lots of flexible options available for parents who are working from home with caring responsibilities. In this case, it is important to speak to your manager and your Human Resources Business Partner about the arrangements available to you.

University laptops may be used from home, but please do not remove other equipment or furniture unless this has been approved by your manager and you have recorded asset IDs (where applicable).

Student assessment

We know that some of our students are concerned about the impact of online teaching on their Weighted Average Mark/GPA and want assurances of a fair and equitable solution. The Guild want assurance that no student will be disadvantaged. Additionally, we need an acceptable process for our accreditation bodies and our regulator TEQSA.

There is agreement that assessments will differ between units, and options include using online exam software that contains specific features to maintain academic integrity, and other methods such as oral examinations (vivas), continuous assessment or an ungraded pass/fail as appropriate. I have approved the funds to purchase an online exam software system to assist with all of the operational needs. It seems to be that the work being done now will be beneficial to us long after this pandemic is over.

I have been inspired by the ideas and the integrity of the conversations this week. However, we are a privileged few, in that we mostly all still have our jobs when so many in our community are suffering dreadfully as livelihoods have been ripped from them. It will be our agility, innovation and collegiality that will see us through this thing, probably not entirely unscathed. Our traditions run deep as does our humanity so let’s keep those less fortunate in our thoughts and lend a hand where we can.

As always, take care. Wash. Your. Hands.


Professor Jane den Hollander AO


UWA Forward