COVID-19 and U3A Activities - Status as at 15 June 2020
15 June 2020
President's Update - IMPORTANT
Please read carefully to note the large amount of planning & execution needing to be done by all of us to get U3A back on track.
U3A ACT is putting plans in place to enable face-to-face teaching activities to resume in U3A venues later in the year. The resumption will be staggered over a period of time, and it will not be possible to adopt a 'one size fits all' approach. Hence, it will not be possible to identify a single resumption date. Due to physical distancing rules, smaller classes will find it easier to resume, while larger classes will need to consider how they will operate.
We will all need to get used to a range of hygiene requirements which will make the 'feel' of being in a U3A class different to what we are accustomed. Some may find these necessary hygiene measures intrusive or annoying, but I am sure the majority of our members will quickly take on-board the changes and welcome the chance to get back together again in face-to-face teaching and learning activities.
A new set of course offerings will need to be prepared by the Courses Sub-Committee to enable the resumption to be co-coordinated. The consultation process involved will take several weeks to work through before classes in U3A venues can resume.
The legally required U3A COVID Safety Plan will be finalised on Monday 22 June. This Plan will lay down the health requirements that will apply in all U3A venues to enable U3A classes to resume.
Classes held in 'non-U3A' or community venues, such as licensed clubs and church halls, will need to meet the COVID Safety Plan requirements of the host organisation, which will be similar to the U3A Plan requirements. Classes in community venues that meet the health requirements of their host organisation may be able to resume from now on.
The following comments relate to classes in U3A venues.
Once classes are allowed to resume, health requirements will have a major impact on how U3A teaching rooms are organised . The 1.5m physical distancing rule between people translates into a requirement that an area of four square metres needs to be allowed for each individual in a teaching room.
The following schedule sets out the maximum numbers allowed in all teaching spaces at Cook, Hughes and Flynn on this basis.
Maximum number of persons allowed in U3A rooms (including presenter) by applying the physical distancing rule:
Cook Room 1: 7; Room 2: 4; Room 3: 13; Meeting Room: 7;
Flynn Room 1: 13; Room 2: 9; Room 3/4: 22; Reception: 12;
Hughes Room 1: 2; Room 2: 8; Room 3: 21; Hall: 40.
The National Cabinet Meeting on Friday 12 June led to a further easing of COVID restrictions across hospitality, entertainment and sporting venues. The main change is that gatherings up to 100 will now be permitted indoors (up from 20). However, since the gatherings also have to observe the physical distancing rule, there is very little change to our room capacities on U3A premises. The Hughes Hall however goes from 20 to 40. This is a significant increase and may be a useful alternative for larger courses at Hughes. The easing may also help courses in larger non-U3A or community venues where the 'four square metres rule' can be observed and where the change will now permit larger numbers than 20.
Note that the 'four square metres rule' and related hygiene measures (see below) will also need to apply to classes held in members' homes, and as well as those in non-U3A venues.
Hygiene measures to be included in the COVID Safety Plan will need to be practised in all classes.
These measures relate to such things as hand sanitising procedures; physical distancing; the minimising of cash transactions; no communal refreshment breaks (the kitchens will be closed), with members asked to catch up with each other after class and, if desired, to bring their own drink bottles and snacks to class; all members to use a disinfectant wipe supplied by U3A to clean hard touch areas of chairs and tables they use at the beginning and end of every course session; and an accurate roll to be taken at each class to enable contact tracing to be carried out in the event there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 identified at U3A activities.
Even though U3A is developing its COVID Safety Plan, as required by legislation as a necessary forerunner to a resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning activities, all members should take personal responsibility for the assessment of their own level of risk when making decisions about attending or not attending U3A activities.
The Courses Sub-Committee will shortly be writing to all course leaders setting out the procedures to be followed to enable courses to be scheduled and advertised. Course leaders may wish to contact members of the Course Leader Assistance Team now (aT ) to discuss their options.
As well as the volunteers who will be resuming shortly at the Cook and Hughes Offices and practising appropriate COVID Safety measures, we will be asking, in the near future, for a range of volunteers to assist with tasks related to the resumption. Keep your eye out for volunteering opportunities which now, more than ever, will help to spread the load in the resumption process.
There are a host of issues to be worked through in relation to the above matters. I will cover many of these in a more extended article in the July/August Newsletter which will be placed on the U3A website on 29 June.
Thank you all, in advance, for your co-operation and support in helping to get U3A ACT back on track.