COVID-19 Advice Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

JCU is following advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and Queensland Health, which is updated regularly.

JCU has developed a COVID-19 action plan and activated the Critical Incident Management Team. The CIMT makes recommendations to the Vice Chancellor based on Government advice and in the context of the University's risk assessments.

Staff and students are required to stay at home if they are unwell or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or is awaiting results for COVID-19.

About coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses similar to the common cold and more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The strain of coronavirus originating from Wuhan is new, and has not been previously identified in humans. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is evidence that it is spread from person-to-person like the flu. Viruses tend to spread via cough and sneeze droplets. The new coronavirus is now referred to as COVID-19.

Cases of COVID-19 are now being been reported in a large number of other countries around the world.

More Information:

  • For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au
  • Call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450
  • The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available here
  • If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) include (but are not limited to):

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties

COVID-19 compared to other common conditions graphic

Australia's Chief Medical Officer advises that the majority of people with COVID-19 infection (approximately 80 per cent) only experience minor symptoms and do not require any specific medical treatment. This contributes to the high infection rate of the virus, as many people with COVID-19 may feel well enough to continue working and interacting with the community.

COVID-19 can cause serious illness to the elderly and people with underlying respiratory conditions or chronic illness.

Protecting yourself and the community

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection.

Studies suggest that the coronavirus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

The best defence against most viruses is good hygiene. Actions to help prevent the spread of infections include:

  • Frequently cleaning hands with soap and water. If you cannot wash your hands, then an alcohol-based hand rub may be used
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or a tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands
  • Avoiding touching your face and eyes
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough (if you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets from a sneeze or cough)
  • Practicing social distancing by avoiding touching including shaking hands, kissing, and hugging
  • If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seeking medical care early and sharing previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Minimising the spread of any germs by regularly disinfecting surfaces that are touched frequently such as door handles, light switches, and kitchen and bathroom areas.

JCU is taking, and will continue to take, the advice of Queensland Health and the Australian Government in determining its response to COVID-19.

If at some point there are confirmed cases among our students and staff, we will be guided by the health authorities as to what, if any, action the University should take at that time. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others such as the elderly, people with respiratory issues and chronic conditions.

The University is working to deliver more subjects online, and does not intend to close campuses at this time.

Studies suggest that COVID-19 may live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions, including the type of surface, temperature and humidity.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus – this will help protect yourself and others. The best way to decontaminate general (hard) work surfaces is with an alcohol based liquid or alcohol based wet wipe. Sprays and wipes that contain more than 70 per cent ethanol, isopropanol or 2-propanol all work equally well and are effective within one minute. Other options include 0.5 per cent hydrogen peroxide, 0.1 per cent bleach or 0.1 per cent sodium hypochlorite. Other sprays such as Glen20 are not effective in this instance.

Wash your hands with soap and water (or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water is unavailable). Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Close contact is considered to be either:

  • Greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with someone who has COVID-19. A person can be infectious 24 hours before they start showing symptoms, or
  • Sharing of a closed space (such as a small office or room) for more than two hours with someone who has COVID-19. A person can be infectious 24 hours before they start showing symptoms.

Casual contact is considered to be:

  • Less than 15 minutes face-to-face contact with someone who has COVID-19. A person can be infectious 24 hours before they start showing symptoms ,or
  • Sharing of a closed space (such as a small office or room) for less than two hours with someone who has COVID-19. A person can be infectious 24 hours before they start showing symptoms.

The virus can be transferred from hand-to-hand contact if you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is why it is very important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and to avoid touching your face as much as possible.

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means you should attempt to stay 1.5 metres away from other people where possible, for example when you are in a public place or meeting room. Social distancing should be practiced as much as possible, particularly if anyone is coughing or sneezing.

Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious, including the 24 hours before their symptoms appear

Touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles, pens or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from an infected person with a confirmed infection.

The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

Within the workplace:

  • Where possible, use Zoom, video or teleconferencing for meetings
  • Limit the length of in-person meetings to maximum two hours where participants can be 1.5 metres separated
  • Limit the length of face-to-face contact to no more than 15 minutes where space is more confined.

Find out more from the Department of Health’s guidance on social distancing.

Being on campus

JCU is monitoring the situation closely and making decisions in response to any potential impacts on our community and operations.

Any activities which are still going ahead will be reconfigured to comply with social distancing guidelines. We will be relying on you to play your part in this and, if you need to self-isolate, you must do so. If you are unwell please do not come to the campus.

JCU is also increasing the frequency of targeted cleaning of public and shared spaces, with a focus on cleaning hard surfaces, providing hand sanitiser units and alcohol wipes in high-traffic areas

The University has a comprehensive plan to prepare and respond to pandemics. The aim of the plan is to:

  • Minimise health risk to staff and students
  • Ensure the safety of students with minimal disruption to study plans
  • Minimise the risk of JCU premises or people becoming a mode of transmission
  • Ensure the safety of staff and students should working or studying from home, quarantine or isolation requirements need to be enforced.

No international travel may be booked until further notice, even if the University travel has been previously approved. This restriction applies to all JCU work and study-related travel, regardless of funding source.

Travellers currently overseas should continue to monitor Smartraveller advice and maintain precautions regarding their personal health, including complying with the advice of local authorities. On returning to Australia you must self-quarantine at home for 14 days after arrival.

The Government now advises its highest advice level, level four travel restrictions - do not travel overseas at this time. Regardless of destination, age or health, it is advised not to travel.

The University has made the decision to cancel or postpone all university-level events that are not integral to our teaching and research programs. Unless otherwise announced, this directive will remain in place until 30 June 2020.

This includes all major events, including graduation, which will be postponed until a later time. More information will be available in the future.

Affected students have been notified of alternative arrangements. As students meet their program requirements and are eligible to graduate, they will have their degree conferred as per the normal processes.

To see the affected events, visit JCU Events

The University is continuing to evaluate the continually evolving situation and our priority is the health and wellbeing of our students and staff and the broader community, while limiting disruption as much as possible in these times of uncertainty.

With the government’s announcement that indoor gatherings are to be a maximum of 100 people, we want to assure you that while schools and universities are exempt from this, your safety and wellbeing is our highest priority.

All face-to-face teaching scheduled to be delivered on the Townsville and Cairns campuses will be paused from Monday 23 March to Friday 27 March, inclusive. This includes lectures, tutorials, practicals and assessments.

This time will allow relevant lecturers to fast-track transition to online delivery of subjects and for the University to implement additional social distancing measures, as part of JCU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more here.

Please ensure you are monitoring your student email for both general University updates and information (where applicable) about your personal circumstances.

Currently there is no evidence the virus can travel through an office air conditioning system to infect others. The World Health Organisation and US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed the virus appears to spread mainly from person-to-person via direct contact, or contact with respiratory droplets.

The risk of virus transmission is dependent on the proximity to an infected person. Prolonged close contact with an infected person can cause infection through contact with droplets, coughs or sneezes, or touching your face after handling infected objects (such as sharing the pen or phone of an infected person).

All staff and students are to self-isolate at home and seek medical advice if they think they have been exposed to the virus. If you are feeling unwell (even with a cold or flu) you should stay home and not attend on-campus work or study until you are symptom-free. This helps protect the wider community.

If a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified on-campus, JCU will follow advice from Queensland Health. This may include ‘contact tracing’, to inform those people who may have been in proximity with the confirmed case, such as in tutorials or lectures.

Campus activities

Yes, campuses are still open.

All lectures for Semester one will be delivered online from Monday 6 April.  Some subjects might be available fully online earlier; Course Coordinators and Subject Coordinators will advise students directly.

While teaching will be moved online, JCU campuses will remain open for activities and services which can still occur within the rules of social distancing.

All buildings, retail and food outlets will be open where permitted by Government (please be aware that requirements are changing progressively).  There are also covered outdoor wi-fi enabled student spaces available on campus that can be utilised, but please observe social distancing requirements.

The libraries will remain open while permitted to do so and adjustments have been made to the seating to support social distancing requirements. You can also access training and consultations online.

You can continue to access important services such as the Student Centre and health wellbeing services on-campus, they will be moving progressively to appointments conducted by Zoom or phone

JCUSA Fitness and Chaplaincy spaces in Townsville and Cairns are closed from midday Monday 23 March as per Government direction.

JCU is continuing to prepare for various scenarios. If the University does temporarily close due to a Government instruction alternative study and assessment arrangements will be put in place. The arrangements will maintain the academic integrity of our courses and subjects, and provide you with continuity of study.

Transitioning to online study

From Monday 6 April, all suitable learning including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, labs and practicals will be available online. JCU has made this decision so that students can continue with their studies with as little disruption as possible.  Some essential knowledge and skills cannot be delivered online, but programs will be adjusted to ensure students meet all subject and course requirements prior to graduation.

Academic staff are developing materials including written material, online lectures and collaborate sessions to ensure students can continue their studies with confidence.

If the teaching cannot be delivered online, arrangements will be made to complete the requirement in a way which complies with spacing and hygiene requirements.

If you subject or course has a practical component your Subject or Placement Coordinator will be able to discuss alternative arrangements with you.

Students are encouraged to regularly check LearnJCU for details specifically related to their course and subjects.

If you subject or course has a practical component your Subject or Placement Coordinator will be able to discuss alternative arrangements with you.

What about assessments?

Course and Subject Coordinators are currently reviewing assessments. Changes made to assessment or other aspects will be reflected in revised Subject Outlines which will be posted to LearnJCU by Friday 27 March.

We understand that this is the first time many of you have studied in this format and we are seeking to make the materials as accessible and engaging as possible.

Staff in the JCU Learning Centre and Library are currently developing tools and information packs so that they can continue to support you as you make the transition to an online learning environment.  Much of this work will occur the week of 23 March and updates will follow.

You should expect changes to your subject timetable as classes are adapted to a supported online learning experience and as any required face-to-face components are adapted to comply with spacing and hygiene requirements. Subject Coordinators will advise of timetable changes.

General information for students

There will be no coursework teaching at the University, including lectures and tutorials in person and online at the University from Monday 23 March for one week only (Week 5 of Semester 1). This pause in teaching will provide staff with the opportunity to develop resources and modify subjects for online delivery so you can continue your studies with confidence.

Students enrolled in the following programs are not impacted by the pause in teaching:

  • Postgraduate online courses in Data Science, Nursing, Psychology and the Master of Business Administration (Global)
  • Remote Area Teacher Education Program (RATEP)
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • Students currently on placement or internship
  • Specified courses/programs as notified by the Discipline
  • Specified external subjects as notified by the Discipline

All nursing and midwifery courses (Cairns, Mackay, Mount Isa, Townsville and External) are exempt from the pause and students have been notified of the supported online learning arrangements that apply from Monday 23 March.

Unless otherwise notified there will be no assessment conducted during the week of 23-27 March.

For more details please see Information for Students in Australia.

We understand that some students will be concerned about the possible health impacts of COVID-19 because of other medical conditions they may have, or those for whom they have carer responsibilities. If this is an issue for you then you should raise these concerns with your Academic Head or Head of Discipline. Your lecturers and support staff are aware of the need for flexibility in these circumstances.

We can be proactive in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing, good respiratory hygiene, and social distancing. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Learn more about how to protect yourself here.

If you are feeling anxious or worried, JCU has a free, confidential counselling service to all enrolled JCU students. Book a session on the phone or via Skype.

There are a range of free services that provide helpful resources including Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Head to Health and Headspace.

You should expect to receive information through the following channels:

University-wide information – Office of the Provost


Course or subject specific information - will be provided by email or updates on LearnJCU from a member of College staff; for example, by course coordinators, subject coordinators, Head of the Academic Group or College Dean on as needed basis.


Cohort specific information will be provided as required via email from the following staff:


International Students: Manager, International Student Support
HDR Students: Dean, Graduate Research School
Indigenous Students: Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education and Research)
Non-Townsville based students: Head of Campus or location
Residential College students: Deputy Vice Chancellor (Services and Resources)

Our student services are still available and we are developing tools to remain in touch with students who cannot attend campus.

JCU Student Centre

International Student Support

Indigenous Student Support

JCU Library

IT Helpdesk

If you are studying at JCU on the Study Abroad or Exchange program from an overseas institution and have chosen to return home, you may be able to continue your current Semester 1, 2020 enrolment through external studies.

If you would like us to review which subjects you can complete externally please email internationaladmissions@jcu.edu.au to let us know that you plan to return home and that you want us to advise on your external study options. We will then email your JCU email to let you know your options. You should reply to that email with your decision and if you choose to accept you will be moved to the external mode of our Study Abroad program.

FAQ for JCU staff

We understand that some staff will be concerned about the possible health impacts of COVID-19 because of other medical conditions they may have, or those for whom they have carer responsibilities. If this is an issue for you then you should raise these concerns with your direct supervisor. We are aware of the need for flexibility in these circumstances.

We can be proactive in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing, good respiratory hygiene, and social distancing. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Learn more about how to protect yourself here.

The University's Employee Assistance Program is available to JCU staff and their immediate families if they need additional support and assistance at this time. We encourage you to access the free, independent and confidential counselling support services of our provider, LifeWorks, who can be contacted at 1800 604 640.

You can also speak with other free services such as Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Headspace.

You can find out more about what you need to work from home at Alternate Work Arrangement Toolkit and IT Services - Staff Working From Home.

About self-isolation

If you’re travelling or returning to Australia you are required to self-isolate (Coronavirus COVID-19 isolation guidance) for 14 days. This applies to all travelers, including Australian citizens. For details, please see the Australian Border Force website.

Self-isolating (or self-quarantining) means staying at home (or at your place of residence in Australia) except when seeking medical assistance. You should not have any visitors during this time, however you may need to have food and other essential supplies delivered.

JCU students who will be undertaking placement on their return to Australia need to contact their placement coordinators regarding workplace requirements for self-quarantine.

People who believe that they may have been exposed to, or have COVID-19, are encouraged to call the 24/7 national hotline to seek advice – 1800 020 080. Advice will be provided regarding any appropriate precautionary measures that can be taken regarding treatment, and to direct you to an appropriate health clinic to be tested.

If you are unwell or suspect you have been exposed you should self-isolate until you have spoken to a medical professional. Do not attend your school, university or workplace until you have been advised it is safe to do so, even if you are not experiencing symptoms - you may still be infectious.

sick

There is no indication or evidence that masks are needed in day-to-day activities.

Within a healthcare setting, P2 masks are likely to provide some protection against the virus for those who are in close contact, such as treating or testing a person with symptoms.

People who think that they might be infected with coronavirus should wear a surgical mask (or P2 mask) if one is available, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else.

If you have any questions, please contact the JCU Student Centre.

Email: enquiries@jcu.edu.au

JCU Townsville Student Centre: Phone (07) 4781 5255 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446.

JCU Cairns Student Centre: Phone (07) 4232 1000 or freecall (within Australia) 1800 246 446.

Students in on-campus accommodation

Yes, on-campus accommodation will remain open. We are following Government advice closely and are committed to supporting our students through this difficult time.


It is also important to note there have been no reported cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) at any of our Australian campuses or residences.

If you have been affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19 please contact your RA or residential staff.

JCU has worked with the on and off-campus student accommodation providers to ensure they have suitable precautions and protocols in place should there be any concern about the health of a resident.

We know that practicing good hygiene is essential to reducing the spread of infection. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then disposing of the used tissue immediately.

You should also:

  • Avoid touching your face, including rubbing eyes
  • Avoid handshaking, hugging, air kissing, or other touching
  • Disinfect high touch surfaces regularly and keep your desk, keyboard and mouse clean and tidy
  • Don't share food or drink
  • Where possible, keep a reasonable distance away from others (1.5 metres is recommended)
  • Avoid mass gatherings wherever possible
  • Stay in your room if you become unwell, letting your accommodation support staff know.

If have any questions or concerns, please speak with your residential College staff or accommodation support staff.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students

For more information, please view Frequently Asked Questions for HDR Students.

International Students

If you are studying at JCU on the Study Abroad or Exchange program from an overseas institution and have chosen to return home, you may be able to continue your current Semester 1, 2020 enrolment through external studies.

If you would like us to review which subjects you can complete externally please email internationaladmissions@jcu.edu.au to let us know that you plan to return home and that you want us to advise on your external study options. We will then email your JCU email to let you know your options. You should reply to that email with your decision and if you choose to accept you will be moved to the external mode of our Study Abroad program.

We are unable to provide advice on whether your home institution will grant credit for online studies undertaken at JCU. We encourage you to follow the advice of your home institution and discuss this directly with them.

Australia has a universal health care system that is among one of the best in the world. International students studying in Australia on a student visa, are able to easily access safe, high-quality and affordable health care, as needed. This is facilitated through the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) that international students, on a student visa, are required to maintain for the duration of their studies in Australia. OSHC assists international students to meet the costs of medical and hospital care they may need while in Australia.

The International Student Support Team is available to help you in any way they can and JCU also has a free confidential counselling service available to students.  We understand that it is important to stay connected with fellow students and our International Student Support Team are developing fun ways to stay connected in a virtual sense via online competitions, Facebook Live watch parties, online trivia contests, virtual cooking classes, careers and employment information sessions, as well as sharing tips for studying effectively online.  If you have not yet joined our closed Facebook Groups please do so.

Townsville JCU Internationals

Cairns JCU Internationals

Of course, your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) will cover you should you require medical care. JCU students in Cairns can access The Cairns Hospital and our Townsville campus is located within the Townsville Health Precinct where The Townsville University Hospital is located.  Australia is well prepared for major incidents like pandemics and has excellent health systems to deal with the COVID-19 virus. Australia has launched a national response to tackle COVID-19 and all areas of the health sector are well informed and actively engaged in this national response.

You can contact the International Student Support Team in the following ways:

Townsville Campus:Building 134 – Education Central
Cairns Campus:Building A1
Email:internationalsupport@jcu.edu.au
Facebook Groups:Townsville JCU Internationals
 Cairns JCU Internationals
Instagram:@jamescookinternational

For Study Period 1, 2020 all tuition fees, SSA fees and library fines, are due by the amended Census Date of April 14.

April 14 is an extension of the original census date of March 26 and has been approved as the new payment due date for Study Period 1, 2020.  It is important to pay all of your fees by this new payment due date in order to ensure continued enrolment in your subjects for Study Period 1.

Students can see information about what Census date means to you at the Fees and Financial Support website.

Non-GPA Q&A for students

If you receive an S (satisfactory), this is a passing level result and therefore you will receive credit for completion of the subject. This means that the subject counts as being completed as part of your course requirements, and the credit points assigned to the subject will be included in the calculations to determine how much of your course you have completed.

Generally, final subject results are allocated from two main options: Option 1 (graded): HD,D,C,P,N,X; Option 2 (ungraded): S,U. Please refer to the following link for a full list: https://www.jcu.edu.au/students/exams-and-results/subject-results-explained

If you do not receive an S (satisfactory) for your subject, you may be eligible for a supplementary assessment or supplementary examination if that is available for your subject. Decisions to award a supplementary will be made by College Assessment Committees in accordance with normal results processing.

Yes, an S (satisfactory) result counts as meeting the requirements of that subject.

Yes, while your overall subject result will be an S or U, each individual assessment will be graded as listed in the subject outline. This will allow you to receive feedback that accurately reflects your performance on the assessment task, so that you can reflect on your performance and plan future learning needs.

By close of business on Thursday 9 April you will receive notification from the University if your subject is exempt.

At this stage the non-GPA results system will apply to subjects that are currently being undertaken, and for subjects that commence prior to 27 July 2020. The University will update this as required and you will be informed if there is a change to this time frame.

A range of non-GPA results schemes are being implemented in universities throughout the world as we all try to assist students adapt to changes being made to the learning and teaching arrangements for their subjects.

We understand that this is a stressful period for students, especially those who are moving from face-to-face delivery to an online delivery mode.  The non-GPA result system will reduce the pressure on students, particularly those who believe their overall course GPA is important to employment outcomes and that their academic performance may be adversely affected this semester due to the move to online studies.