The return of staff at SCU has been delayed due to the recent surge in COVID-19.
The return of staff at SCU has been delayed due to the recent surge in COVID-19.

COVID-19 surge hinders university reopening

Uni students and staff will have to adjust to the 'new norm' of social distancing when the doors re-open at Southern Cross University from next year.

In a statement, the university confirmed staff will be delayed in their return to the campuses, but graduation ceremonies were back on the calendar.

Staff were initially due to return to campus from January 4 however the recent surge in COVID-19 in NSW has now set this back to February 1.

At this stage students are still scheduled to return to the campus in late February.

Graduation ceremonies were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and campuses including Coffs have been closed to most student classes and activities since March.

Vice President (Operations) Allan Morris said the unpredictable nature of the virus' spread had now forced the delay in the return of staff.

"We would much rather act with caution and in the context of the current fast-changing environment and not be forced into making last-minute or multiple changes to plans," he said.

Student Ambassadors will be engaged as COVID-19 marshalls to ensure all campus attendees abide by the 1.5m physical distancing guidelines.

They will ensure physical distancing is maintained particularly in high traffic areas such as the libraries, cafes, foyers and corridors.

Campus attendees will also be required to register their attendance each day.

 

Students and staff are scheduled to return to the Coffs campus in February.
Students and staff are scheduled to return to the Coffs campus in February.

 

"It is important to recognise that COVID-19 remains an active issue," Mr Morris said.

"Consequently the university will continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of staff, students and visitors to our campuses."

The Gold Coast campus will host the first graduation ceremonies at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on February 12 and 13, while the first graduation ceremony in Coffs Harbour will take place at the campus' Students Sports Centre on June 26.

"Graduations have been scheduled for 2021 and any graduates who missed out on their postponed 2020 ceremony will be invited to join one in the coming year," Mr Morris said.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent loss of international students hit the uni hard, resulting in the uni axing 63 full time positions across the three campuses under new reforms in October. This included seven staff in Coffs.

These cuts came after the university made 71 staff redundant through a voluntary process.

SCU had announced that COVID-19 had created a budget shortfall of around $33-million in 2020-21.

 

Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin.
Vice Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin.

 

"This has been a challenging year for almost everyone in Australia but these reforms will make Southern Cross University stronger and more viable as we step into an ever more competitive higher education landscape," Vice Chancellor Tyrone Carlin said at the time.

Southern Cross has about 9000 students across its three main campuses at Lismore, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour and about 5000 online.