COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 30 March 2021
As we reach the end of Spring Term, with yet a third lockdown in place, we wanted to thank you for your work in educating our students, undertaking research and keeping our operations running throughout what has been a very challenging winter. We can’t thank you enough for all your hard work and dedication and we wish you a restful Easter break. With even the current small lifting of restrictions, we are all looking forward to seeing some of our friends and loved ones, albeit outside.
In the first step in the government’s national roadmap out of lockdown, on 8 March many of our students taking practical or practical-based subjects were able to return to campus. We expect to learn on 5 April whether more students will be allowed to return. We’ll let you know what the government tells us.
As always, your safety is of primary importance. We expect all staff and students coming onto campus or halls of residence to have regular tests, so that we can mitigate any spread of the virus through our own robust COVID-19 test and trace operation. Our overall positive testing rate is approximately 0.7% and we will continue testing for those on campus through the Summer Term, with a review in July to determine our next phase.
Returning to Campus
Even as the number of students and teaching staff on campus increases, government guidance for most of us remains to work from home whenever possible. This will continue until at least June. Starting in June or July, we expect that more of our community will be able to return to campus, and we are working on how we will enable that safely, flexibly and with the right support. Our Returning to Campus Working Group is staging its work in three phases: current essential access, a transition period when restrictions are lifted, so we can learn what works, and looking forward to future working arrangements. Their planning will be guided by our three priorities:
- maintaining a safe environment for our community
- enabling temporary arrangements for flexible and hybrid working where suitable
- learning from experiences and listening to the community to shape future ways of working
We will continue to communicate with you so that you can prepare in good time. Regular updates can be found at our new ‘Rethinking the workplace’ webpage or contact the dedicated email inbox with queries about the guidelines produced by the working group.
A special thanks to everyone who will be supporting our students and maintaining our campuses during the College closure over Easter. For those of you are able to take a break at this time we hope you are able to rest and recharge.
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost