New national restrictions and our University
05 Jan 2021
A message from the President and Vice-Chancellor
As I am sure you are aware by now, the government has introduced a new national lockdown in response to increasing rates of COVID-19 infections, hospital admissions and deaths.
This is a serious development and one which I recognise will create difficulties and stress for many of our staff and students. In the light of this development, I want to reaffirm our ongoing commitment to your safety and wellbeing and to offer you some guidance about how our University will operate over the next few weeks.
Working on campus
Under the new restrictions, you can only leave home for work where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. These legal restrictions will apply to all University staff whether involved in teaching, research or professional services. The only exceptions are:
- Researchers and research students who require access to specialist facilities for their work. We have updated our guidance on research involving direct/in-person contact with human research participants.
- Staff required to attend the campus to deliver in-person teaching and assessments on exempted programmes – mainly in medical and health sciences
- PS staff who are providing vital frontline services.
On-campus COVID testing is available to all staff who may be required to work on campus.
All colleagues classed as clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to work from home.
We have been informed by the Department for Education that higher education workers are classified as critical workers and may be able to continue to send their children to school where they are required to attend work or work from home to support the welfare, wellbeing and teaching of students, but staff are advised to speak to their child’s school to clarify the situation. We also have in place guidance to support those who now have increased childcare commitments as a result of school closures.
If you are required to be on campus it is critical that you continue to observe COVID safety rules that are in place. This includes holding meetings online and following instructions for moving around and using buildings. You must report it if you test positive or are self-isolating.
Teaching and learning
All teaching and assessment except for a few exempt courses will now be online. This will be reviewed by government in mid-February, but will likely remain in place until the end of March. Some exemptions are described in our message last week and in government information. Unless students are on these exempt programmes, or they have specific personal circumstances, they should not return to University.
On-campus COVID testing is available to all students, and those who are returning should also take a test before travelling, if possible.
Those who have stayed over the Christmas period, who have already returned or who cannot alter travel plans will be supported and should now stay on campus. Study areas and the library will remain open.
As we face this major challenge it is very important that we support each other. We are stepping up our support services for staff and students, but please also stay in touch with your colleagues and students to keep checking that they are OK.
We can at least see light at the end of the tunnel as vaccination is rolled out and I have no doubt that we will adapt and respond positively to the current situation.
Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor