About 650 University of Otago first-year students from Auckland are filtering into Dunedin this week, allowed to travel outside of Auckland under alert level 3 because they are relocating or returning to a place of residence.
They would fill in a health questionnaire when they arrived at their university-owned residential halls in Dunedin, a university spokeswoman said.
Those with symptoms would be asked to take a Covid-19 test and isolate in their rooms until results were returned.
The university had a management plan for any returning students from Auckland who were not staying in its residences.
It was “to educate and highlight to students key health messages and Ministry of Health guidelines in individual emails to every student, together with messaging on our social media platforms and on our website”.
The plan also included updated information about accessing Student Health services.
The university received specific advice from the Ministry of Health that Auckland students were able to travel to Dunedin’s campus under level 3, the spokeswoman said.
Parents or caregivers of university students were not allowed to travel outside Auckland until the alert level dropped to 2 or 1.
Returning students from Auckland who were not living in university-owned residential halls were advised to follow Ministry of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The university was also working closely with the Otago University Students’ Association on plans for the university’s Orientation Week, which features several large gatherings and is scheduled to begin next Monday.
Level 2 restricts gatherings to 100 socially distanced people.
The students’ association said on its Facebook page that Flo Week — flat orientation — Back to School, Trippy Tuesday and Gothic parties planned for Castle St over the next three days were postponed.
It said police would be in Castle St and surrounding areas to enforce Level 2 restrictions.
“We all want to have a good time but we’re dealing with a pandemic here.
“If you break the rules you could face disciplinary action from both the police and the university under the code of conduct, and we don’t want to see that happen for anyone,” the association said.
An association spokeswoman said it was waiting to see what would happen with alert levels later this week before making a final decision on O Week events.
The university’s Campus Watch would be at full strength for both Flo and O Weeks, she said.
Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen, of Dunedin, said police would be working with the students’ association and Campus Watch to ensure gatherings were sticking to the 100-person restriction and people were social distancing.
In a message to all students yesterday, vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said under Level 2, the university remained fully open, with some changes for Summer School students to allow for social distancing.
“We don’t know what this week will bring, but we will keep you informed.
“We expect to follow the same pattern we developed last year.
“At alert Level 2 social distancing across our campuses and some room changes may be expected.
“If we move to a higher alert level, some or all of our teaching will move online.”
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said it was an anxious time, especially for students who might still be in Auckland, but they would have the full support of the city when they arrived.
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