COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 18 June 2020
We are grateful for the many heartfelt messages following our communications and actions supporting Black Lives Matter. Our diverse community is the heart of the College, and essential to our excellence in research and teaching. We are committed to making sure Imperial is a welcoming, inclusive and supporting place. We have taken some immediate actions to support our Black staff and students and we know that there is much more to be done.
We are commissioning a group under the aegis of President’s Board to examine the history of the College through its links to the British Empire, and to report on the present understanding and reception of the College’s legacy and heritage in the context of its present-day mission. We will publish terms of reference for the group and its membership shortly.
We are empowering Imperial as One to collect ideas and help lead change and we will continue to work with our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team and all Heads of Department to find ways that everyone can be involved and heard and practical actions can be taken.
As we near the end of this challenging term with completely remote assessments, we want to thank everyone for their hard work in moving all of this term’s education online so effectively. Everyone has made a huge effort and we recognise how tiring these three months of intense working have been, especially in light of the many personal demands on people during lockdown. Although there is still a long road ahead as we prepare for the Autumn, we encourage you all to take a break over the summer, to plan your annual leave, and to look after your own wellbeing and that of your friends and family. As a gesture in this direction, Friday, the 3rd of July will be a Staff Wellbeing Day, where we ask that you try to not schedule meetings (Teams or otherwise) as far as possible. This would have been the first day of our Great Exhibition Road Festival and is a fitting time for us to take a collective break from our normal busy schedules.
As we look ahead, and begin the work of restarting research and preparing for teaching next term, we want to remind you that everyone who can work from home must remain working from home. At current and projected social distancing guidelines, we will only be able to accommodate those who absolutely must be on campus. We believe that this will be necessary at least until the end of the calendar year and we will revisit the situation as the external environment, transport and government guidelines evolve, and new information becomes available.
While we have been focusing on providing equipment and supplies to make working from home more comfortable we are also bringing together online resources to ensure that Imperial@home can be a vibrant, connected and engaged community. Realising how taxing it is to work from home, we recommend that College meetings start at ten past the hour and run for 50 minutes so that everyone has a break between back-to-back meetings. Heads of Department are arranging ways for people whose home work environment is challenging to apply for use of an office on particular days and times.
Our pilots to ramp up laboratory activity on campus have been successful and provide valuable lessons for our safe resumption of laboratory research. We have developed and endorsed a health and safety policy and arrangements for safe working. We can learn from interesting insights from colleagues’ experiences working with social distancing and new safety policies. We are also providing opportunities for those who need to visit campus to get things from their offices or laboratories.
Our colleagues from medicine and occupational health are piloting COVID-19 testing for staff on campus and are developing protocols and plans that will potentially help us bring more staff and students on campus this Autumn.
Throughout all of this, we want to remind you to take the opportunity to step back, relax and recharge.
With our best wishes,
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost