COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 13 March 2020
Yesterday the UK Government moved from the containment to the delay phase for the COVID-19 outbreak. This phase is intended to slow the spread of the virus so the NHS can provide care as effectively as possible.
The spread of COVID-19 and its societal implications are causing concern everywhere. We are focused on the health, safety and resilience of our staff and students and we want to reassure you that we are following closely Public Health England (PHE) and NHS advice to ensure that Imperial is a safe place to work and study. We understand that the uncertainty of this evolving situation will be causing some of you increased anxiety. We encourage you to reach out to colleagues, friends and family and support each other. The College’s staff and student support services also remain available to all members of the community.
PHE guidance indicates the College remains at a low level of risk and our campuses and halls of residence remain open. Our immediate objective is to ensure that our students finish their scheduled teaching and assessments next week so that we can remain on track for them to complete their academic year. We have the capabilities for remote teaching and you should speak to your departments for guidance on how and when to use them.
The delay phase involves reducing close contact between people to hinder community transmission. Our approach is to reduce the number of people who are on campus every day, while allowing colleagues to continue their work on campus as and when needed. We have updated our policies in line with government and PHE advice. More details are below.
- We continue to allow remote working for our staff if approved by their line manager. We understand these requests will increase and have provided guidance to help decision-making.
- Flexible working will not be possible for everyone nor will everyone choose to do so. We will support staff who are working on campus as well as those who work from a distance. Our food services, library and other common facilities remain open and we are very grateful to all those who support us each day.
- Staff and students who are part of a vulnerable group identified by PHE should work from home. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
- Our HR policies have been amended to ensure that those who are unable to attend work or work remotely, following authorisation from a department, will not be disadvantaged in terms of leave entitlement or pay.
- We recommend that everyone in our community consider their activities outside of College. We advise limiting travel to only that which is essential for work or family reasons.
- Everyone should follow PHE recommendations for personal hygiene and disinfection of physical spaces. We are also increasing our cleaning of common spaces, classrooms and gathering areas.
We are monitoring the situation closely and will update you with any changes to our advice. We are proud of our community and thankful for your strong support of one another and for your help in ensuring that our College is safe, respectful and resilient.
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost