Dear colleagues,

One month into the new term, we are challenged by the external circumstances and cheered by the many inspiring stories from the work you are doing.  We are very grateful for the tremendous efforts you have made to ensure that our teaching and research excels. We know that the extended lockdown is difficult and likely to continue for a while longer and we are very mindful of the workload and the level of stress this situation creates.

The positive news about vaccinations in the UK provides hope for the longer term. As the Dean of Medicine, Jonathan Weber wrote in the last staff briefing, many colleagues are helping to ensure that people are immunized as quickly as possible. Our clinical staff and those working with the virus have been vaccinated. Our colleagues continue to work at the forefront of combating this virus. Professor Wendy Barclay will lead a new national virology consortium to study newly identified virus variants and rapidly inform government policy.

The government will review the effectiveness of lockdown next week and confirm its roadmap out of lockdown the week beginning 22nd February. As the pandemic recedes, we will implement our own lessons learned and seize new opportunities from our innovations this past year. That work has already begun, and we will be discussing our approach to increasing our on-campus activity at our Heads of Department meeting next week and asking you all for your views over the coming weeks. 

For now, we must be prepared for more weeks of remote working and learning, and we are committed to supporting you through both Faculty and College teams. We have put in place support for well-being, mental health or financial concerns and we urge you to take advantage of them. We use our weekly HoDs lunch meetings to share ideas and we want to hear from you about additional ways we can help – anything from ideas for additional support to ways we can reduce administrative burdens.

For those of you who need to be on campus, our Covid Operations Group (COG), led by the Director of Academic Services, Richard Martin, has done a tremendous job ensuring that our campuses are COVID safe. The testing they are providing with the CCT Hub tracking and tracing is an essential element of keeping people safe.  They have administered over 23,600 tests and we strongly encourage all staff and students on campuses to be tested every week. COG is also piloting “pooled testing” to accommodate greater numbers of tests for everyone working in our buildings.

The College is a thriving and vibrant place to learn and discover, thanks to your ingenuity and resilience, and we are proud to be part of such a community.

Best wishes,

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost