COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 15 September 2020
Like us, we’re sure that for most this has been one of the most memorable and challenging summers in our lives. We are very grateful to the many people working exceptionally hard to keep us safe, prepare for the new term, and plan for the months ahead. It is good to see Business School students back on campus, excited about the new term, and helping us work out what College life is like in the “new normal” circumstances.
The government’s decision to adjust examination grades produced one of the most challenging admissions periods in our history. Thank you to the many involved in making sure that A-level students could have a place at Imperial either this year or next. The resilience and commitment of our staff across the College, to find extra capacity, mindful of our need to maintain safety protocols, and to maintain the quality of learning and experience, enabled us to honour all the offers we made. Your dedication is truly inspiring. We are now preparing to accommodate more students than ever both in our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. We are mindful of the magnitude of the task ahead, and you can count on our full support going forward.
As we enter the new academic year, keeping everyone safe remains our top priority. We have a new Code of Conduct that sets out the behaviours everyone should follow on College premises to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A voluntary asymptomatic testing programme is in place, and will be expanded, and a new tracing scheme will be launched soon, learning from the Business School’s pilot. We are also performing environmental screening that will test air and surfaces for COVID-19 in multi-user locations to provide another means to help us minimise transmission.
Our message of ‘protect and respect’ reflects the care the community has for each other as we welcome more students onto campus and more of our colleagues return to deliver and support teaching. Colleagues who need to be on campus in order to do their research and to teach, can be confident that we have taken all available measures to ensure we have as safe an environment as possible. As the situation develops and more of our community return to campus, we are constantly learning and evolving our approach, and we welcome your ideas for any additional measures that you may have.
Many of us continue to support research and teaching working from home. We are grateful for your efforts and for keeping connected through Imperial@home and other resources. These are challenging times and our community is helping one another greatly.
We are also starting our brand-new multi-mode teaching programmes, in which remote and in-person delivery are combined, and in which all courses can, for this term, be taken remotely if needed. The digital innovations that have made this possible required new collaborations and new resources. The newly formed EdTech Guild is one of the innovations that have emerged as a direct result of our handling of the pandemic. The Guild brings together the key people across the College to focus the technical skills and support required to deliver innovative digital education today and in the future; the ICT teams are fully supporting the College priorities for digital education.
We would also like to take this opportunity once again to celebrate our researchers – those who have kept essential research going over the past few months, and especially to those who changed research direction to contribute to the development of new testing technologies, the study of clinical outcomes, the impacts on young people and minority ethnic groups, and the search for a new vaccine.
Our Advancement team have done a wonderful job raising critical support for the COVID-19 fund which has supported over 40 projects from epidemiology and virology to understanding the impact of coronavirus on the mental health of frontline workers.
As we look forward to the new term, we hope that each of you has found the time to take a break and recharge your batteries. Your wellbeing is of the utmost importance.
Thank you for your continued commitment and support of one another. We wish everyone the very best for the Autumn Term and we are confident that our community will be strong and resilient.
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost