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Update for staff and doctoral researchers - 3 December

Dear Colleagues and Doctoral Researchers,

I am writing to update you on a number of developments at the University regarding Covid-19.

Asymptomatic testing for colleagues

Any colleague or doctoral researcher who has worked on one of our campuses in the last 14 days is now able to book and obtain an asymptomatic (ie you do not need to have symptoms) test on our East Midlands or London campus. You can do this by booking through the University’s Connect and Protect website. Colleagues may take up to two tests. London colleagues have been contacted separately about booking arrangements.

There is no charge for the test. Unfortunately, we are not able to test family members because of the nature of our agreement to operate the Test Centre.

Asymptomatic tests are a Lateral Flow Test which produce near-immediate results. They are not completely accurate and you should not fully rely on them. They do however give an additional reassurance for colleagues who are without symptoms.

Please note if you obtain a positive test result you will need to isolate for ten days in accordance with the Government’s rules.

We hope this service gives an opportunity to colleagues meeting family for Christmas to have additional reassurance before doing so.

Covid-19 rates

After peaking in late October, Covid rates at the University have fallen. We are currently tracking just four cases in the last ten days (all at our East Midlands campus). Case data are regularly published here.

January return

I have today written to students in response to the new Government guidelines for the return to campus in the New Year. In line with the guidelines, we are offering a staggered return to the University.

The new term will officially start on Monday 11th January 2021, as planned, in week 12 of Semester 1.

Any revision lectures in week 12 will be delivered online as previously advised. For some students, particularly those who don’t have exams at the end of Semester 1, in-person teaching will recommence from the start of the new term (11th January). For those who are studying a subject that includes a practical element, eg laboratory- or studio-based work, they should also be back on campus for the start of the new term for their first timetabled in-person class. The majority of our specialist spaces will be open for students to access for project / dissertation work if they choose to do so prior to the start of Semester 2.

Semester 1 assessments (which will take place from 18th January to 3rd February) will be undertaken online and students who are expecting to sit examinations will not need to be on campus to do this. Not all students have access to good study space at home and therefore we have made it clear that students who wish to revise and undertake their online assessments on the campus may do so. Our student study spaces will be available for use and we will have a system to allow spaces to be booked in advance for private study or to take online assessments.

Semester 2 will begin on Monday 8th February, when in-person teaching will resume for all taught programmes. We would expect all students to be back on campus by this date. Initially we anticipate that Semester 2 will have a similar mix of in-person and online teaching to Semester 1, although we will make some changes in response to feedback. We will continue to review as the Coronavirus situation evolves.

It is our intention to screen returning students using Lateral Flow Tests to minimise the chances of importing cases onto campus in January. Testing will also be offered to London students prior to the commencement of Semester 2.

Most importantly can I thank colleagues for their contributions this term. As I said in the recent open staff meeting hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, the very significant efforts colleagues have gone to is obvious and sincerely appreciated. As you will know from the Vice-Chancellor’s newsletter earlier this week, the University will now be closed on December 23rd, granting an additional closure leave day for colleagues. I recognise this can only ever be a gesture but it is one genuinely meant. Thank you.

I also recognise that there will be some colleagues who will be working throughout the Christmas period to support those students who cannot return home. I am hugely grateful to them for their commitment over this period. I think we can be genuinely proud of the support we have provided our students.

Thank you.

Richard Taylor
Chief Operating Officer