COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 2 November 2020
Following the government’s announcement of a national lockdown we wanted to update you on the new measures and how they apply to us. Thanks to your work over the summer we are well prepared for a new lockdown and we are confident we can continue to fulfil our academic mission in a safe environment. Our research and teaching are configured to meet the new government guidelines.
The Prime Minister was clear in his statement at the weekend that universities will remain open during the new national lockdown. The most recent guidance from government for universities is:
- Universities have welcomed students back and we have published guidance advising universities on reopening to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus.
- Universities and adult education settings should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible.
- If you live at university, you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time. You should only return home at the end of term for Christmas. We will publish further guidance on the end of term.
Research and education activity
Our multi-mode education model is working well, enabling us to combine essential face-to-face teaching on campus, especially laboratory work, with the benefits of remote learning and assessment. Departmental plans allow the right balance between online and in-person learning and provide the decision-making framework that allows us to adapt to local needs, keeping staff and students safe.
We have carefully designed all of our research activity to be safe and consistent with social distancing rules – research laboratories will remain open and research staff and students should continue with their current arrangements.
Staff and students who need to travel to campus to deliver, participate in or support on-site teaching, research and learning activities should continue to do so.
In-person teaching is critical for some areas, where hands-on, practical knowledge is being developed. It is also important for student well-being and we expect our students to continue their scheduled on-campus activities with us through this lockdown. Please encourage them to participate. We know that our staff are giving students excellent support.
Thanks to terrific work from our hall wardens and campus services, we are providing for students in our residences whether they are self-isolating or attending programmes on campus. We will continue to provide a high level of care even as the broader community is adapting to the lockdown.
Safety on campus
Safety remains our top priority. Our safety measures meet and, in some cases, exceed what is expected by government. We are heartened that our community is taking responsibility for this by supporting the College-wide Protect and Respect campaign and following our safety guidance, including wearing face coverings at all times where directed to do so.
Repeated asymptomatic testing, combined with contact tracing and isolation, remains the most powerful tool we have currently to contain Covid-19. Our Test, Trace, Contain approach, coordinated by the COVID Outbreak Group (COG), enables the College COVID-19 Contact Tracing Hub (CCT Hub), to ensure Departments and Halls have up to date information. Please emphasis to your students how important it is to report their situation to the Hub. You can visit the College testing data page for the latest numbers on positive cases.
As we anticipated many of us working from home will continue to do so until the new year. This means we can safely accommodate social distancing for those who need to be on campus for research and education. Our Imperial@Home materials are there to help you connect to your colleagues and to provide support and resources for remote working. You can also see how your colleagues have been managing working from home on Twitter and on Yammer. Please make sure to look after yourself and check in on your colleagues. There is a good deal of Health and Wellbeing support that is available to you.
We know this latest change in guidance will require us to adapt again to make sure the number of cases is contained across the country. But we are confident that the resilient Imperial community will pull together, as it has so well over the past 8 months, to ensure that the College comes through this pandemic. We are working on plans for when more of us can work on campus next year and will update you on those soon.
We will continue to keep you updated and urge you to read our weekly COVID updates for the latest guidance.
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost