University of Newcastle vice-chancellor Alex Zelinsky has told staff he expects them to turn up for work once a week.
Professor Zelinsky said in a video message to staff on Friday that he wants them to support the students still coming to campus.
"It is my expectation that we should aim to have 20% of our staff present each day, typically a day a week for each person and always observing the rules of social distancing," he said.
He said staff with a vulnerable health condition and those aged over 65 should stay at home, but "the rest of us" should go to work "periodically". He said he appreciated the flexibility of staff in working to keep the university operating "effectively".
"This is our ultimate goal, because closure of the university will have significant impacts, including our students not being able to graduate and potential job losses for staff," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday urged Australians to work from home when possible to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The university will complete its transition to home study on Monday, but some students are still on campus continuing research, using the library and living in on-site accommodation.
"While our campuses are open, some of us need to be here to support our students and to keep them safe," Professor Zelinsky said.
He urged staff to continue to support the small businesses on campus.
"I will continue to buy coffee and food every day," he said.
"... Rest assured we are following the government health advice to keep you all safe."
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