With never ending reports of new cases, close contacts and locations of interest, it's easy to forget behind every number is a person, often a family, affected by COVID-19.
Our students and their families are among those who have innocently contracted the virus, been taken into quarantine and had their lives turned upside down.
AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack said learning of our students contracting COVID-19 is very distressing, and the thoughts of the whole AUT community goes out to them. He noted the situation could have been worse if it wasn't for the actions of these students. "I can't stress enough how these students have gone out of their way to do the right thing," said Derek McCormack, "in several cases, it is the students themselves who have sought testing and let us know their results. It's thanks to them that the contact tracing process was able to begin as quickly as it did. I'm very proud and grateful."
AUT staff are in regular contact with the students in MIQ facilities and providing support for others who are self-isolating including those in student accommodation.
For our student residents who remain in their student village, AUT is providing three free meals a day, as well as daily welfare checks. For residents who chose to leave their student accommodation during alert level 4, AUT will be providing an accommodation charge waiver for the period they're away and until they can return to their student village based on Government rules.
"Studying in lockdown creates different pressures on our students," explains Derek McCormack, "as a student-centred university, we're committed to making sure our students have the all the support they need to stay well and achieve their educational goals."
Across AUT, teaching staff have worked to make sure the move to online learning was as seamless as possible and accessible information on how to request support, study tips and staying well during lockdown has been created and shared with students through the AUT App and Student Hub Online. Through AUT's Student Hub, specific support is available for any students who need it:
To date, we've paid out over $50,000 in financial assistance and delivered 164 laptops and 44 data packages. Students with impairments continue to get in class assistance, including sign language interpreters and notetakers - as well as access to adaptive technologies.
With the University now in mid-semester break, the Student Services team, with help from across the University, has quickly created a suite of online materials and activities for students wanting to stay connected and engaged. This includes stress reduction and positivity programmes, career and study workshops, live stream meditations and activities for residents in our student accommodation.
"The development and operationalisation of the mid-semester programme is an example of the exceptional work AUT staff undertake to support our students. I appreciate the efforts of our teams from across the University which collaborated to bring this to life in a short time frame (4 days) to support our students' wellbeing, engagement and continued development during lockdown," said Joanna Scarbrough, Group Director of Student Services.
Students wanting to access any support can find information on the Student Hub Online