Dear Colleagues

Everyone has been doing an incredible job working from home whenever possible and supporting our students, clinical work, essential research and volunteer activity.  We expect that all who can work from home will need to continue to do so, even as the government plans to ease some of the lockdown restrictions. We know this has been challenging and we are grateful for the continuing support we are getting from ICT and HR.  We understand the challenges of additional caring responsibilities and difficult remote working conditions. We hope that the resources available are proving to be helpful and we welcome your feedback at coronavirus-guidance@imperial.ac.uk.

As we mentioned last week, we are now focusing on how to plan for the next phase of College operations within a social distancing framework - and how we can, in a limited and safe way, within the framework of current government guidelines, resume some of our research activities that cannot be carried out remotely.  The Vice-Provost for Research and Enterprise, Deans, Vice-Deans for Research and Faculty Operating and Safety Officers have developed a set of overarching principles to guide us as we work through the plans for this phase. These principles are:

  • The safety and wellbeing of staff is paramount
  • Remote working remains the preferred option for those that are able to do so
  • No one should feel pressured to return to work on campus
  • There are clear guidelines for prioritising who can return

We had a very productive discussion with the Heads of Department to review these and understand how we can best work together to adapt to what will be new ways of working. We are launching several pilots to learn the best ways to restart some of the most laboratory intensive research on campus across a variety of different use profiles. These pilots will run for the next two weeks and we will be refining our plans as we learn from the experiences of these volunteer groups. The pilots will inform further ramping up of campus activity in accordance with government guidance.

While we are all eager to get our laboratories going, our paramount priority is ensuring that our community is safe and that our plans for the campuses will be able to deliver continued social distancing, the provision of appropriate protective equipment and all necessary cleaning protocols.  Our facilities and campus services teams have been working hard to take all the steps needed to reopen these laboratories. We will continually evaluate safety and hygiene measures and will provide advice on practices you can adopt. Please visit our webpages for updates and guidance on health and safety and our approach. The Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre has specific advice for post docs and you can speak to your Head of Department for more information. We are always eager to hear your thoughts, ideas and concerns.

We are aware that our world will be very different after this lockdown. It is challenging to change old habits and we will all need to be mindful of how we must modify the way we approach our daily lives and even simple tasks involving interactions with other people and communal spaces.  We know that our community can take the lead in this effort and that we will forge new ground on ways to succeed.

We hope that you have a good bank-holiday weekend and can relax.

Best wishes,

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost