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St John’s College – COVID-19 Updates

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REFUNDS OF SEMESTER FEES AND A FUND TO ASSIST COLLEGE FAMILIES IN HARDSHIP – 3 APRIL 2020

Yesterday it was announced that in the circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 public health emergency the College is offering a refund of 50%of semester 1 2020 fees, and in exceptional cases will consider a higher level of refund on the basis of hardship.

We are now putting in place procedures for this and would ask that you bear with us for a few days while the necessary arrangements are made. This communication is to give you relevant information about your options with respect to refunds and the new 2020 Hardship Fund which is being established to assist college families in hardship.

2020 Hardship Fund

As with individuals and families throughout Australia, and indeed around the world, the current emergency is affecting many St John’s students and their families through job losses and business downturns. For families in the country there can be especially harsh effects, coming so soon after the 2019-20 summer of fires and prolonged drought conditions.

In order to assist these students and families the College is establishing a temporary fund and asking those who can contribute to do so. If you can, you may wish to consider donating all or part of your fee refund to the 2020 Hardship Fund which will be applied to help current students and their families who are in need of assistance.

Donors will be recognised (unless they wish to remain anonymous), and the accounts of the Fund will be published. You will be updated with further details of this initiative as soon as they are available.

With sincere best wishes,

Adrian Diethelm
Rector

FROM THE RECTOR AND CHAIR OF COUNCIL – 2 APRIL 2020

To students, parents and families of St John’s College,

Over the last several days the College Council and staff have given much consideration to the best way forward for St John’s in the very difficult circumstances which pertain at the moment.  As we all know, a set of mandatory public health restrictions is now in place and seemingly being strengthened day by day.

From the outset of the emergency the College has acted in accordance with public health guidance in such matters as educating students about handwashing and hygiene, stepping up cleaning, reducing and distancing seating in the Hall, and other precautions. St John’s has been in contact with the University and the other colleges throughout this period to understand and learn from their responses also.

In view of the rapidly developing health situation, on 23 March the College recommended that students who could return home should do so, but that those with a good reason to be in College would be permitted to stay.  In the days following the number in residence fell to 60 students.

There is no indicgtion at this time that the pandemic is abating, and the public health advice continues to be that reducing physical contact between people to the greatest extent possible is the best way of minimising the risk of infection.

In these circumstances College Council has taken the difficult decision to close the College campus to students from midday on next Wednesday 8 April 2020 for the remainder of semester 1 2020.  Council was reluctant to take this drastic step but it has become apparent that this is the safest and proper course to take in our particular circumstances.

Our staff are working with the students who are still onsite on arrangements for their travel to home or relocation within Sydney. All students will have satisfactory accommodation arrangements in place prior to leaving the campus.

Council has also determined that a refund of 50% of semester 1 fees will be offered to all students.  In exceptional cases the College will consider a higher level of refund on the basis of hardship.

In coming to a decision about refunds, Council was highly conscious of the economic impact of the pandemic on many families in the College community, as well as consequences for the prudent management of the College’s finances.

College management is working on the mechanics of refund arrangements and there will be a further communication tomorrow 3 April with details on this. Refund applications will be processed as quickly as possible.

We look forward to welcoming our students back to the campus as soon as it is safe to do so.  In the meantime student leaders and staff are working to ensure that the St John’s community, particularly our students, remain connected and supported in every way possible in these challenging circumstances.

The pandemic is affecting people across the world and the thoughts of everyone at St John’s are with those who are suffering, whether medically, socially or economically, in the current emergency.  The crisis will pass, and the College will still be the exceptional community we know and are proud to share.  The Council, Rector and staff are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that the College continues to flourish.

With our sincere Good wishes,

John Coorey
Chair of Council

Adrian Diethelm
Rector