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Teaching and learning in the new academic year

17 Sep 2021

A message from Professor Nalin Thakkar, Chair of the Campus Management Group and Professor April McMahon, Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students

Teaching and learning

It’s great to be back on campus for the start of the new academic year. Whilst we hoped to be back to ‘business as usual’, it’s fair to say that we’re still working towards it. We are confident that everyone will do their utmost to create a positive and welcoming environment and a deliver an excellent student experience.

Safety on campus

There has been a huge investment of time and effort in making the University as safe as possible but continued and sustained safety needs all of us to take positive actions. Here are a few things we can all do, and encourage others to do:

  • Vaccination is the most helpful measure to reduce the impact of COVID on our community. It’s reassuring to know that the majority of the adult population has now received at least one vaccination, and from our own recent survey of our students we know a very high proportion of them are fully or partially vaccinated, reducing risk across the University community. As we return to campus in greater numbers, we will continue to encourage vaccination, and we have pop up vaccination centres on campus for the start of term.
  • Testing – we are all strongly encouraged to take regular lateral flow tests (at least twice a week). You can pick up lateral flow kits from on campus catering outlets. If you have a positive PCR test please self-report this to the University. This will help us to make informed decisions on the safety of our community.
  • Please use the NHS COVID app and follow current NHS guidance.
  • Our new SafeZone app provides an extra helpline to report issues on campus and access support, but can also be used to report COVID issues, and SafeZone check-ins can also help to design safe flows of movement across campus.
  • It is strongly recommended that you wear a face covering whilst moving around indoors on campus. It is expected that face coverings will be worn in lecture theatres and large teaching spaces. In other areas they may be required if indicated by local risk assessment. There will be clear signage in areas where they are required by a risk assessment. Face coverings are available in numerous places across campus and will be made available in all teaching spaces. Schools will be given transparent face masks that they can distribute for staff to wear during teaching.
  • Across campus there is signage to remind staff and student of the key actions to take to minimise the spread of infection, to provide additional visibility you can add a slide to your teaching sessions.

Preparation for the year ahead

We’ve developed new skills and new ideas for educational delivery. Many of you have embraced digital and blended learning and have delivered exceptional teaching. Others have developed new approaches to in person teaching to accommodate COVID restrictions whilst still delivering clinical and laboratory-based provision for thousands of students.

Whilst we are all hoping for the best we are also planning for all eventualities. We will be starting the academic year with an on-campus timetable. However, weeks of work by Schools, Estates and Timetabling have gone into preparing a secondary timetable should the Government direct us to reduce on-campus activity at any point. We expect, but can’t guarantee, a two-week notice period to manage any timetable shift if directed by the Government.

Through the Campus Management Group we are working closely with Public Health locally and nationally and monitoring the data as they become available. We anticipate, but can’t guarantee, that we should have around a two-week notice period of any requirement to reduce on-campus activity.

We’ve had a lot of questions about educational priorities, campus safety and measures to protect staff and students over the coming months and you can find more information on our working on campus staffnet pages and our specific teaching pages. We are updating these on a regular basis so do keep checking for the latest information.

Nalin Thakkar and April McMahon