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Managed return of staff to campus from 1 September

19 Aug 2021

A message from Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President for Social Responsibility and Chair of the Campus Management Group

Return to campus

On 17 March 2020 we closed the University for all non-essential activity. In recent weeks we have seen more staff return to campus, joining those who have remained on campus throughout the pandemic. Now, nearly 18 months since we first closed our buildings, I am pleased to confirm that from 1 September we will see a planned increase in the number of staff and students on campus as we begin to return to something more ‘normal’.

Although access to campus will no longer be restricted, each team will be working to plan their own return, and I would ask you all to speak to your line manager/group leader in the first instance to understand the arrangements for your team.

To help with this gradual return we have created an online hub to provide key information and guidance for all staff and line managers.

We know that some staff may have concerns about working on campus with increased numbers of people and many colleagues are keen to understand the safety measure in place and our new ways of working. There is a wide range of wellbeing support available should you need it.

Activity on campus

All courses will return to in-person teaching, with some disciplines offering remote study to students who are unable to travel to Manchester. All University buildings will be open and there will be a gradual opening up of more catering outlets.

Many research activities have continued on campus throughout the pandemic, and as you would expect the necessary safety measures for each research activity will be in place. This may include the wearing of face coverings as a safety measure for specific activity, outside of COVID requirements.

Before you come to campus

Academic staff should return to campus to be prepared to start teaching and any events they are scheduled to attend in person during Welcome and Induction. PS staff should speak to your line manager to confirm when you will be returning to campus. For PS teams using this year to trial hybrid working, your line manager will be working with you to put the finishing touches to that plan so you are clear on how you will be working.

Everyone needs to help to minimise the spread of infection, and we would encourage all staff and students who are eligible to get vaccinated before coming on to campus.

Along with vaccination we would urge staff to take twice weekly lateral flow tests and continue to follow guidance on hand washing.

If you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive, you are required to self-isolate and not come to work on campus for ten days. Please inform your line manager and report a positive test.  

Keeping our campus safe

Consideration should be given to continue social distancing measures in areas of campus where it is possible to do so without restricting activity. Although we cannot mandate the wearing of face-coverings, we strongly recommend that you continue to wear face-coverings whilst moving around indoors on campus, and we encourage students to keep face coverings in place in teaching settings. Please use the risk assessment process for reasonable adjustments needed to ensure we promote the Good Citizenship of maintaining ‘hands, face, space’ as we are unable to enforce this with the recent change in government policy.

Hand sanitiser and face coverings are available at the main entry points of all buildings across campus. We have enhanced cleaning in place and have been working to ensure all ventilation systems are operating effectively.

Testing kits will be available for collection from catering outlets across campus, and between 17 and 24 September staff and students will be able to take advantage of on campus walk up vaccination centres.

Changes to COVID restrictions change

I hope that we can progress with this gradual repopulating of campus over the next few weeks, but as we all know the situation can change very quickly. In the event that infection rates rise and government guidance changes, I would like to assure you that we have plans in place to be able to fully reintroduce social distancing, or even move back into a lockdown. This includes a socially distanced timetable for teaching and plans for how we would maintain research activities.

Please visit the online hub to find out more information and I very much look forward to seeing you on campus soon.

Nalin Thakkar

Vice-President for Social Responsibility and Chair of the Campus Management Group