Update: The SRC’s restriction on in-person meetings will be lifted from Friday, 31 January.
In an unprecedented move, the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council (SRC) caseworkers and lawyers will stop in-person meetings with students due to fears of staff contracting the coronavirus.
SRC President Liam Donohoe told Honi Soit that the blanket restriction on students was the fairest way of addressing staff concerns over the virus, and that some members of staff suffered illnesses that made them particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus.
Students will be able to speak to staff over Skype or phone. There will be no drop in appointments available to students.
Donohoe told Honi that the decision would be reviewed tomorrow afternoon.
Elected student office bearers, who share the offices with SRC staff are not subject to the ban and will be able to use the office space.
SRC General Secretary Abbey Shi, who recently returned from an unaffected region of China, told Honi that she was told by staff that she would be able to call in to the offices in completing her duties.
The decision follows stories of at least five people in Australia contracting the virus, including one University of NSW student.
SRC caseworkers are the primary point of support for undergraduate students at the University of Sydney, assisting students in university queries and some financial support questions. The beginning of the year is often a period of increased need for their services.
The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association, which provides casework services for post-graduate students, will remain open for in-person meetings.
The University has contacted students whose home address is in Wuhan about special considerations, but no classes have yet been cancelled.