Dear Colleagues,

For all of us, the safety of our loved ones and ourselves continues to be at the front of our minds. And as research gathers momentum on campus, and we anticipate the arrival of students in the next months, we want to let you know that it is also foremost in our considerations. We are committed to ensuring the College is a safe place to work and study.

The government continues to adapt its own guidelines in the face of changes to infection rates across the country and overseas. Because our community is smaller and more localised, we can be clear on our policy for the upcoming term now.

Staying safe on campus

Our policy has been informed not only by government guidelines, but also by the world experts that we are fortunate to have as colleagues. Our health and safety experts, researchers and those who are involved in our restarting research pilot have all had an important say in its development. We will update you as this policy develops and encourage you to check the website for more details.

In short, our simple message on safety is ‘respect and protect’: respect those around you by wearing a face covering about campus – it is essential in most locations - and maintaining social distancing; and protect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly and staying at home if you feel unwell. 

By following these principles, we believe the College will be as safe as it can be for those in our community who need to be on campus for research and teaching, and for our incoming and returning students.

Repurposing spaces on campus

Making sure we have enough space, systems to ensure appropriate density and a schedule for everyone who needs to be on campus, has meant that we have needed to repurpose quite a lot of spaces. Our Education Strategy and Operations Group, with the support of the education community and staff across the College, are working very hard to ensure classes and tutorials, as well as some lectures and laboratories, can be held within the constraints of the campus, in teaching spaces, observing all social distancing and safety requirements. You may have seen in last week’s Staff Briefing that the Seminar & Learning Centre (SALC), Great Hall, hBar meeting rooms and the Queen’s Tower Rooms (QTR) are being repurposed as student spaces so will no longer be available as event and meeting spaces. We will be reopening the majority of our catering outlets from early September so that staff and students have spaces to safely meet and socialise. Please bear with us as we make these changes, they will be reviewed during the autumn.

COVID-19 testing

We have also instigated a programme of COVID-19 testing, led by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Jonathan Weber. The Department of Infectious Disease has been working with the College’s Occupational Health team to set up the programme, which includes outbreak preparedness and contact tracing. Testing for staff and postgraduates working on campus now is being rolled out. This will help those that are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic to promptly self-isolate and reduce transmission. Our colleagues in the Department of Infectious Disease and the College’s Occupational Health team will provide more information about the programme in the near future.

Imperial@Home

Of course, many of you will continue to be working from home for the immediate future unless you need to return to campus as part of your role. We hope you understand that by working from home, you are creating the space for those that have to be on campus to be able to do their work safely, so that we can continue with our academic mission. We are building a community of colleagues - Imperial@home - to provide wider support and connectivity. Your contribution matters and we want you to know that you remain an integral part of the Imperial community.

Please do reach out to your line manager if you have questions about working on campus, working from home or if you need to do a combination of both.

Finally, we wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you, for all the hard work that has been going into preparations for the autumn, for making sure we can teach and undertake research, and for keeping our campuses running. We hope that you each have the opportunity to get a good break and encourage you to do so. Please enjoy the summer before we are back to start the new term.

With our best wishes,

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost