UQ locations reopening, working arrangements next week and easing of COVID-19 restrictions

4 Mar 2022

Dear Staff,

I want to start by first acknowledging that this has been a traumatic week for our community, and an exhausting one for our emergency and response staff. 

While closely monitoring the weather, I have also been watching in horror the devastating escalation of the war in Ukraine. The Group of Eight has issued a collective statement in response to Russia’s invasion, outlining our support for Ukraine, its people and its sovereignty. 

We are not aware of any staff or students currently in the country, and we are thankful that those studying with us are here in Australia. Our thoughts are with those with family and loved ones in Ukraine at this very difficult time, and those in Russia who are also opposed to this war. 

Following our latest Critical Management Team meeting this morning, I wanted to share with you some important updates about our sites and facilities, what to expect next week and the government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions before the weekend.

Location access update

Our Gatton campus will remain closed over the weekend, with access restricted to authorised emergency staff and people who reside at the Gatton campus. The campus will reopen on Monday for staff and students.

Pinjarra Hills will remain closed until further notice.

I am pleased to say that all other locations in South East Queensland will be open over the weekend with some exclusion zones in place and skeleton services operating (including access to the Central Library at St Lucia). There is still a lot of work that needs to be done over the weekend, so we are ready to safely welcome staff and students back on Monday.

I would ask that only staff and students who have been directly impacted by the severe storms and need to access essential services or support, access UQ locations over the weekend. 

What to expect next week

Staff will be able to return to work at UQ locations next week.

Staff located at the various exclusion areas listed on our website should speak with their supervisors/managers about working arrangements for Monday.

I would also encourage you to continue to check our website for updates over the weekend on no-go areas at each location.

Teaching updates

The Academic Calendar for Semester 1 has now been updated online and reflects the adjustments following the decision to start week 2 teaching on Monday 7 March.

While it was the right decision to pause teaching, I do recognise that this pause will result in additional work for teaching staff. To help you prepare, we have set up a website that provides information on the impact of the adjusted calendar on key dates, electronic course profiles, timetabling and placements.

Supporting staff and students over the coming weeks

This will be a devasting time for those in our community whose homes have been impacted and who have lost possessions. I spoke earlier this week to a number of our students who are facing this situation within weeks of arriving in Australia, and they have been very grateful for the help provided by our Student Services team

Staff who know of students needing support, please let our Student Services team know (student.services@uq.edu.au / 1300 275 870), or encourage the students to contact them directly.

Staff still impacted by the floods next week can access up to 3 days of paid leave. I would encourage staff affected to speak with their supervisor/manager about what other support and flexibility they may need over the coming weeks. Support is available through our HR team (askhr@uq.edu.au) and Employee Assistance Program.

Our website also provides additional information on a range of disaster relief funds and grants available, including details of the RK Macpherson UQ Staff Emergency Support Fund. In addition, we are putting in place an emergency loan program for impacted staff and will confirm the details of this next week.

I would also encourage staff to contact colleagues and friends who have been impacted, to check how they are managing and to ask how you can help. Staff who are supporting emergency services (including the Mud Army 2.0 or other local council clean up programs) can apply for community service leave where operationally possible.

Transport updates

The safety bus at St Lucia and the intercampus shuttle services will operate on Monday.

When traveling to UQ locations, I would encourage you to check your journey as there may continue to be travel disruptions into next week. The UQ ferry terminal has been damaged and is currently closed.

For staff driving to campus next week, please use the CellOPark app.


Events scheduled to be held at UQ locations that are open can proceed next week.

Government easing of COVID-19 restrictions

From 6pm today, the Queensland Government has indicated it will ease restrictions. Below is a summary of those applicable to UQ:

  • Masks will no longer be required indoors, except in healthcare settings, residential aged care, disability accommodation and on public transport
  • Masks are still recommended whenever you can’t physically distance.

I would remind everyone that UQ has a number of additional measures in place to help protect our community and minimise the transmission of the virus. These include:

  • Requiring anyone attending UQ locations to be fully vaccinated
  • Strongly encouraging masks to be worn when people can’t physically distance
  • Encouraging physical distancing of 1.5m where practicable
  • Where required, providing access to additional personal protection equipment such as P2(N95) respirators; rapid antigen tests (RATs) and locating hand sanitising units at key access points
  • Access to COVID-19 leave providing up to 10 additional days leave for staff, including casual staff, impacted by COVID-19
  • Air quality monitoring for high density areas
  • Advice and support for staff returning to campus.

I understand this may be a worrying time for some staff. I would encourage anyone with concerns to discuss them with their supervisors/managers including what practical measures could be put in place to address them.

I also want to assure staff that our response to living with COVID-19 is a weekly agenda item at the University Senior Executive Team meeting. In the coming week, the group will be discussing the impact the updated government directives will have on our business continuity plan.

I want to again thank staff from across the University who, for the past week, have been on the frontlines and braving the storms. It will be weeks and even months before the true impact of this flood event on our homes, our communities, our places of work and on people’s mental health and well-being will be understood.

It will be important during this time that we continue to work together as a team, putting our people first and doing what we can to support each other. But I am confident that with this approach we will get through this.

We will be closely monitoring the weather over the weekend and we will update staff of any impacts if required.

I do hope that everyone manages to have a very well-earned break over the weekend.

Best wishes,