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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – support and guidance

This page details examples of practice and approaches that have been taken by institutions in New Zealand in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in areas such as learning and teaching, assessment and feedback, and student support.


Support for Remote Learning
  • Uni from your bubble: get ready to study from home
    AUT has taken the decision that the delivery of Semester 1 teaching will take place online. To support their students in undertake their learning remotely, AUT has developed a series of four modules to support their students to effectively engage in remote learning. The modules cover ways to stay well and connected while studying at home, the digital tools that students will use, tools and topics to achieve academic success, and what students should expect on their first day of remote learning. The module use asynchronous resources and direct students to relevant institutional services for each topic area.
Support for Remote Learning; Assessment and Grading
  • COVID-19 information for graduate research students
    AUT has developed a webpage dedicated to responding to frequently asked questions about the impact of COVID-19 on the graduate research student experience. The University is confident that many research students have been able to work with their supervisors to adjust their research plans and continue to progress. They do recognise that many research students' progress will be affected by the pandemic and, for some, their research may be severely disrupted. Where students are unable to progress with their research because of the ongoing pandemic, they are asked to apply for an extension to the current timelines and milestones of the candidature. AUT has emphasised that there will be no penalties imposed on doctoral students who experience a lack of progress due to COVID-19. Graduate research students are encouraged to liaise with their supervisors to discuss potential alterations to the order of their work tasks in light of COVID-19. Doctoral students who are approaching the confirmation of their candidature have been advised that their oral presentation will either be deferred or held via videoconference, dependant on the academic faculty of the student and the students' current situation. Doctoral students are still able to submit their thesis online. AUT has also developed protocols to enable visas to be undertaken online via videoconferencing applications. Where the examination of doctoral students is based on an exhibition artefact requiring in-person viewing, these will be postponed until further notice. 
Support for Remote Learning; Emergency Funding
  • Make a Start: Orientation for students in China
    AUT has created a webpage to support international students living in China to access and engage with their learning remotely. The resources hosted on the page include instructions on accessing IT help for students in China, links to the AUT Library and introductory videos on the use of digital tools. The webpage also signposts students to resources to support effective academic writing and the construction of different styles of essays. Full fee-paying students from mainland China, who meet a number of requirements, will also be eligible to receive the institution's $1,000NZD COVID-19 Assistance Grant.
Support for Remote Learning
  • Frequently asked questions (Coronavirus situation)
  • AUT has advised students that they would be contacted at the beginning of Semester 1 by a staff member from their academic faculty to develop an individualised Interim Study Plan. The Interim Study Plans are intended to support students to learning remotely, which will include a variety of video or audio lectures, guided learning and reading activities, and live or delayed interactions with teaching staff and other students. Interim Study plans can be structured to support international students studying remotely and will address any challenges that arise relating to time zone differences. Where international students are unable to travel to New Zealand and do not want to study online via their Interim Study Plan, AUT has advised that students can postpone their study or withdraw. If a student withdraws from their programme of study, they will need to reapply for any future study.

Assessment and Grading
  • Exams and assessments - impact of COVID-19
    Massey University has taken the decision that they consider all students to be experiencing some form of 'impaired performance' this semester, due to the ongoing global pandemic, and this fact will be taken into consideration in the grading of all assessed work. The institutions has stated that, as this decision applies to all students, that individual students are not required to complete paperwork for impaired performance. In acknowledging that some students may experience more significant challenges than others, where they or a family member that they care for contracts the virus, Massey encouraged students who experience these challenges to make an aegrotat or impaired performance application. The institution has also stressed that students who experience serious challenges, which would normally necessitate an application for impaired performance or aegrotat, including illness, injury and bereavement, should still apply, so that their circumstances can be considered when reviewing the student's grades. Massey has stated that they will be as flexible as possible, with the expectation that students will still have to complete at least 40% of the course assessment. Where a doctoral student and their research has been affected by the ongoing global pandemic, students are encouraged to apply for a suspension of studies, change of candidacy from full-time to part-time or an extension of studies.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Health and wellbeing support advice - COVID-19
    Massey University has created a dedicated webpage to support the health and wellbeing of its staff and student communities. This webpage includes signposting to make an online appoint with Massey Student Health and Counselling, includes information on student support services that are operating online, lists ideas of free activities to do out with study time links to MasseyHomeFit (run by the Massey University Recreation Centre) and Les Mills' free online fitness classes, and signposts to the Māori Movement, a health and wellbeing programme that brings together the traditional training of warriors (both male and female) into a modern interpretation.
Mental Health and Wellbeing; Student Support
  • Toi Hauora
    A section of the University's 'Health and wellbeing support advice' webpage is dedicated to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the institution's Māori students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Massey's Te Putahi-a-Toi School of Māori Knowledge has developed four podcasts, which explore the Māori perspective on COVID-19 and whanau health. The podcasts cover the topics of 'Tapu and healthful practices', 'Maintaining balance in our Hauora', 'Pūrākau about Tāwhirimātea explains respiratory issues', and 'Time for whānau ora check in?'
Support for Remote Learning
  • International students in New Zealand
    Massey University has encouraged their international students to remain in New Zealand during the country's lockdown period to ensure that they remain able to effectively engage with online learning. The guidance notes that it might be challenging for those international students, who choose to return to their home country, to return to New Zealand to continue their studies at a later date. For those international students who were not able to travel to New Zealand or have chosen to return to their home country, they can continue to undertake their studies online. Where international students are impacted by the travel restrictions and experience difficulties studying online, and wish to withdraw after the fees refund eligibility period, they will be able to enrol in that course or an approved equivalent with no additional cost in the next available semester.
Preparations for Autumn Semester

Transition Back to On-Campus Learning
  • Semester 2
    Massey University will be offering a blended learning experience to students in Semester 2. The flexibility of the blended approach to learning is intended to support students who cannot come to the University campus due to illness, travel restrictions or other reasons. There is a recognition that each academic college may take slightly different approaches to blended learning, because of the differing nature of their programmes and courses. However, Massey has established the following institutional guiding principles: most lectures will be offered online for all students so those who are unable to be on campus still have access to all their course materials; in most cases, tutorials will be offered both online and in-person to offer maximum flexibility; in-person teaching will resume, but the amount of in-person teaching will be dependent on the specific course; all learning activities that cannot be taught remotely (e.g. they require specialist equipment, studios or labs, or involve field trips or work-based placements) will run as usual; students can have in-person interaction with staff, if so desired, and full access to University facilities, supported by an increased ability to engage online. Where students are registered on courses or programmes that require specialised equipment, field trips or placements, and they cannot attend in-person, students are required to discuss this with the course coordinator, who will work with the student to provide them with additional opportunities to complete all required course components.

Assessment and Grading
  • Assessment and exams
    The University of Auckland has taken the decision to change all scheduled tests and examinations to be online assessment exercises, with the exception of tests with a weighting of 5% or less. All assessment exercises and tests will be completed online and will be open for a 24 hour period. Course coordinators are expected to provide guidance to students on the recommended timeframe for completion to support their time management and wellbeing. All undergraduate students, whose overall performance in in the C- to C+ range, will have the option of having a pass grade recorded, rather than the letter grade. The pass grade will be precluded from the GPA calculation for their undergraduate programme. If a student fails a course in 2020, while the University is operating remote learning, they can repeat the course the following year, free of charge, and it will not have an impact on their GPA. There is no limit of the number of courses that a student can repeat the following year.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Staying Well While in Isolation
    The University of Auckland has created a dedicated webpage to provide its staff and student communities with supports to promote positive mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webpage includes recommendations on ways to stay active, signposting to food delivery services and tips for staying healthy in isolation. The webpage also draws on the expertise of the University's Wellbeing Ambassadors, who have collated a selections of digital resources to encourage students and staff to stay connected, tips for students who are parents to support effective remote learning, and information on the negative impact of alcohol and drug use during lockdown.
Support for Remote Learning
  • Study Plans
    The University has introduced individual study plans to support international students who are impacted by the current travel restrictions. Students will be provided with individualised study plans, which might include online material or supervision sessions, additional tutorial support and alternative assessment arrangements. Students will also be assigned a study buddy for their coursework. If the student decides that remote learning is not working, they had until 9 April 2020 to withdraw from their enrolled courses to receive a full refund. Study plans are not available for all programmes or courses. Where this is the case, students can defer their enrolment to the next semester or suspend their research programme for one or two months.
Preparations for Autumn Semester

Transition Back to On-Campus Learning
  • Moving to Level 1
    The University of Auckland has opened all University campuses to students and staff, as per they have now moved to Level 1. The current mode of remote learning will continue to be utilised until the start of Semester 2 on 27 July 2020. Physical distancing on campus will not be required. All University libraries were reopened on a reduced schedule from 11 June 2020.

Emergency Funding
  • COVID-19 information for students
    The University of Otago has launched a fund, the Pūtea Tautoko student hardship fund, to support students facing a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University has committee $1.5 million NZD as an initial investment to the fund and has asked alumni, staff and friends of the University to contribute to the fund. This fund will be the largest hardship initiative undertaken in the University's history. Applications for the fund open in early May and all students are eligible to apply for the funding.
Support for Remote Learning
  • COVID-19 information for students
    The University of Otago has developed a dedicated webpage to provide students with updated information related to their learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University has transitioned to online course delivery and assessment deadlines were revised to support the effective transition from in-person delivery. The University has also collated guidance on the use of digital tools and for studying remotely. The University notes that Student Health Services continue to operate and that AskOtago is also undertaking wellbeing checks for students remaining in private or university accommodation in Dunedin during the lockdown. The deadline for students to withdraw from courses was extended to 9 April 2020 and was intended to provide students, who felt that they were not able to effectively study due to COVID-19 or the institutional response, with an opportunity to remove the course from their academic transcripts. Where a student chooses to withdraw from a course, any tuition fees paid will be refunded to the student. Teaching staff have been advised to take into consideration the impact of COVID-19 and the University's move to online learning on students' performance, while finalising marks at the end of Semester 1. This approach will include provisions to take a compassionate approach to students at the margins of pass/failing courses and to consider the scaling of course marks, where appropriate. Students who experience significant disruption of their students are encouraged to apply for Special Consideration, which is a normal institutional process. The circumstances for a student to qualify for 'Special Consideration' has been extended to include: illness, significant technological failures during online assessment and other severe disruptions arising from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 information for graduate research candidates
    International students who hold a visa to commence their doctoral studies, but cannot travel to New Zealand, have been encouraged to discuss a possible remote start to their studies with their supervisor. International doctoral candidates can be based overseas for 12 months without incurring international fees. As New Zealand transitions from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 on 28 April 2020, the University hopes that some research-based lab work and fieldwork can resume. However, this is dependent upon guidance from the New Zealand Government. It is noted that face-to-face interaction with human participants will not be permitted under Level 3 conditions. All other doctoral candidates will need to continue to work from home. The University has used a dedicated webpage for doctoral candidates to provide information and guidance on transitioning to and continuing home-based research. The University notes that students' research may take longer than planned to complete and that may have an implication on students' visas and funding. There are two options available for students: retrospective deferral and deferral. A retrospective deferral enables students to continue to work and access resources. Once the student has a sense of the time lost, they will need to apply for retrospective deferral in the same calendar year. If the student is on a scholarship, then the payments would be decreased accordingly. A deferral would last for a minimum of one calendar month and would result in scholarship payments ceasing and a loss of access to academic resources during the period of the deferral. A deferral may also have visa implications for international students. The University has encouraged doctoral candidates to apply for a retrospective deferral, rather than a deferral. Where doctoral research has been reviewed and approved by the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee or the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health), students are not required to request an amendment to the approval from the ethics committee to switch from face-to-face to remote interviews. Students need to ensure that all information sheets and consent forms are appropriately modified and dealt with the amendment. All doctoral theses must be submitted electronically and any oral examinations scheduled during the lockdown will need to be undertaken via video conferencing software.
  • COVID-19 information for taught postgraduate students
    The University of Otago has encouraged its taught graduate students to speak with their supervisors and programme co-ordinator in the first instance. It recognises that COVID-19 will impact students differently, based on the progress that they have already made on their dissertation/research project, whether it is based on experimental work in labs or students need to access materials (ie. archival materials) that are no longer accessible. The University has advised taught graduate students that the disruptions caused by COVID-19 will be considered in the examination of their dissertation. The potential for an extension to the submission date of a student's dissertation will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Taught postgraduate dissertations or research projects cannot be deferred, which is why the University has encouraged students to rescope or rescale their projects to respond to the current environment or consider applying for 'special consideration' or an extension.
Support for Remote Teaching
  • COVID-19 information for staff
    The University of Otago has developed a dedicated webpage for information relevant to academic staff. The webpage advises that there may be some ability, in exceptional situations, for small groups of people to return to on-campus teaching, where online teaching is not possible. Any classes or workshops, which are approved for on-campus delivery, must be limited to 10 people. This 'bubble', as the University has termed it, should not interact with any other staff/student bubbles. All physical distancing requirements must be met when teaching and learning on-campus. The University has also developed guidelines for their staffs return to work, following the transition to Alert Level 3. To support the institution's pivot to remote learning and teaching, the University ran (and continues to run) workshops, covering relevant topics (i.e. 'Online assessments in the current COVID-19 environment' and 'Handling marks of Blackboard'). The University has also provided it's staff with guidance on ensuring privacy and the creation and maintenance of information and records while working remotely.
Preparations for Autumn Semester

Transition Back to On-Campus Learning
  • Information for Students
    The University of Otago intends to resume in-person lectures, tutorials, labs and seminars for Semester 2, unless there is a change in Alert Level. All students enrolled in courses that are being delivered on campus are expected to attend on-campus teaching. Exceptions may be considered for overseas students unable to return to campus due to travel restrictions, domestic student unable to return due health grounds or domestic students unable to return to campus due to exceptional financial and/or family circumstances. Students who fall within these three categories must apply to the University to be considered for an exception.