Update to staff - 10 March at 6pm
I am writing to give you an update on the developing Coronavirus position.
The University’s website is up to date with factual information. It includes a message the Vice-Chancellor sent to students late yesterday, which is still factually correct. Importantly, he notes that there has been no change in the number of positive cases at the University since he last wrote. I have pasted this at the foot of this message for convenience.
I wanted to take this opportunity to make a few additional points:
We are receiving a number of questions about travel. The current travel situation is accurately described on our website. We anticipate the Government may move to the next phase in its strategy – from ‘contain’ to ‘delay’ – over coming days. If so we will adjust our travel guidance to become significantly more restrictive. If you are due to travel after the end of this week, please be aware of this, anticipate that the situation might change quickly and look out for messages.
I am hugely appreciative of my colleagues in Campus Services who continue to work hard to keep the campus clean and safe. Cleaning has been changed to prioritise higher risk features such as bannisters, gym equipment, door handles and communal areas. Please be understanding if other areas receive lower levels of priority over coming days.
My email yesterday described remote working preparations. I am grateful to colleagues who have already acted, and would encourage others to follow the advice.
Delivery of Teaching
Extensive work is being carried out at the moment by a Teaching Contingency ‘Task Force’ and members of the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee, to put plans in place for business continuity should we find ourselves in a position where maintaining full campus delivery is not possible. This will include putting forward a clear plan to both assist staff in providing teaching materials where possible and to support students to be able engage with their learning moving forwards. We currently anticipate that we will be in a position to send out detailed information towards the beginning of next week.
The University’s Health, Safety and Risk Manager yesterday offered advice to UCU on precautions they can take to protect themselves and others as they operate their lawful picket at the University in relation to the industrial dispute. I am appreciative of steps UCU has taken in response to that.
You have heard me repeatedly emphasise the importance of handwashing. Our colleague, Julie Turner, who is the University’s lead on biological safety, has produced a short video to explain why this is so very important.
Colleagues with underlying health issues
We have added, and continue to add, further information on this topic. You should speak to your manager if you have questions, and can email email@example.com if helpful.
Misleading media and social media coverage
Colleagues may have heard rumours, suggested on social media, that there are multiple positive cases on campus. Whilst more cases may be likely as the national situation develops, this is not true and your support in challenging rumours is helpful. As the Vice-Chancellor said on Saturday, there are a number of individuals who have been advised to self-isolate by the NHS but these are not positive cases. There remains a single positive case.
You may have also seen a photograph circulating that purports to show University staff wearing hazmat gear, entering facilities. For clarity – this photograph is not of the University and shows staff from a nearby College engaged in a recent practice drill.
The University’s contingency planning is broad based and encompasses every School and Professional Service. If you have ideas or concerns and want to feed in, you should contact your Operations Manager or Head of Service.
Chief Operating Officer