Aquinas College’s successful management of the COVID19 pandemic has won plaudits for its blend of common-sense, creativity, and holistic support of students.
Students have been fulsome in their appreciation for how the College administration shaped its response to the pandemic when it hit Australia just after the start of the academic year.
‘I wouldn’t have wanted to have been anywhere else during these months,’ said Student President Catherine Walsh. ‘That’s the general view of students here. The great majority have stayed here right through and they feel we’ve managed things really well. We’ve also had a lot of fun.’
College Rector, Brother Michael, said that he has received innumerable emails and messages of gratitude and congratulations from families, old collegians, and others in the wider Aquinas community.
‘We took the decision to remain open,’ said Brother Michael, ‘because this is where the young people live. That meant that we needed to ensure an environment for them that was not only safe and healthy, but also supportive of them academically, pastorally, socially and spiritually.’
‘The whole project we called “Operation Aquinas, Staying Mean with COVID19” and its major element was a suite of strategies called “Uni on the Hill”.’
Brother Michael praised his staff team, the student leaders, and the students generally for the way they have responded inventively, generously and flexibly.
‘It’s been a whole-of-college thing,’ said Brother Michael. ‘The way these months have played out has revealed so much about the character and culture of this wonderful community.’
Semester 2 promises to be a lot more normal, with all students in residence. The Rector is quick to point out, nonetheless, that there is still uncertainty about the rest of the year.
‘We are not out of the woods on this,’ he said, ‘as the virus is still active around the world. So, some protocols and restrictions will need to stay in place. But they have now become part of the new normal for us.’