Update for staff and doctoral researchers - 5 January 2021
Dear Colleagues and Doctoral Researchers,
Further to my email to you on 31st December 2020 and the Prime Minister’s statement last night, we have reviewed the Government’s latest guidance issued to universities and revised our arrangements for the start of the new term.
I have included below a copy of the message that we shall shortly send to students on the Loughborough campus to explain our plans. Chris Euden, Operations Director for Loughborough University London, will share details of the plans for the London campus in a separate email to staff.
In summary, in line with the Government guidance:
- Taught students have been informed they should not return to Loughborough at this time (except in a limited set of circumstances)
- In-person teaching will not resume (other than potentially for PGCE students) before mid-February at the earliest
- Examinations and revision lectures will take place online, as already planned.
- All students (taught and research) are being required to take a Covid-19 lateral flow test at the point they return to the University.
Our core message to colleagues and doctoral researchers remains largely unchanged and will apply until mid-February when it is likely to be revised, unless lockdown is extended. You should work from home if you are able to do so and should only come to campus if you cannot perform your job remotely (including research activities where relevant – research facilities will remain open). Where working on campus has a positive impact on your wellbeing (for example because you do not have adequate space at home to work), you may also work from campus for some of your time. Please speak to your line manager or supervisor in the first instance, so that appropriate arrangements can be put in place to ensure effective social distancing can be maintained.
Please be assured that our risk assessments are reviewed to reflect the state of knowledge as things develop.
If you do have to work on campus, doctoral researchers are required to take a free and rapid Covid-19 lateral flow test on return. We encourage staff to do the same. This will help us to avoid importing cases of Covid onto campus. You can book a test via the Connect and Protect form.
As schools are closed until mid-February at the earliest, some colleagues and doctoral researchers will be supporting children with home-schooling as well as working. As before, when schools were closed, we will support you as much as possible and we ask you simply to do whatever you are able to do. Please ensure that you keep in close contact with your manager or supervisor during this period so that they are able to plan and monitor workloads. PDR reviewers have been asked to ensure the differential impact of lockdown on colleagues is taken into account in any discussions. The Department for Education has confirmed that some university staff are considered to be critical workers and may continue to send their children to school where they are required to attend work or work from home to support the welfare, wellbeing and teaching of students. Please contact your HR Business Partner for guidance if necessary.
The situation is evolving rapidly and we shall continue to monitor developments and further Government announcements very carefully. Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding. We will update the University FAQs as more detail is developed or is shared with us. The University’s staff wellbeing website provides a range of resources to support you during this ongoing period so please do make use of it. Further guidance for doctoral researchers is available at one the web.
Chief Operating Officer
Further to my email to you on 31st December 2020 and the Prime Minister’s statement last night, we have now reviewed the Government’s latest guidance issued to universities and revised our arrangements for the start of the new term.
The Government have said that, other than in a small number of cases, they do not expect students to return to universities until mid-February at the earliest. As a consequence, we have had no alternative but to make the following decisions.
Returning to Loughborough
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night you should notreturn to Loughborough at this time unless you meet one of the following criteria:
- You have already arranged international travel to the UK,
- You do not have adequate space / facilities at home to study or undertake examinations,
- You consider that your mental health would be negatively affected if you remain at home,
- You are part of an elite sport performance pathway.
Please be aware that whilst the campus is open, it is operating with limited on-site services and under national lockdown rules, preventing social mixing between households. Please also note that the Government’s guidance states that you must not move back and forth between your permanent home and student home during term time.
We will write separately to those students with University Halls of Residence contracts with details about accommodation fees in this context. I can confirm we shall now refund accommodation fees for future Semester 1 weeks where students do not or are unable to return to their accommodation because of lockdown.
The Government has said that in-person teaching at the University should not generally restart until the middle of February for most students at the earliest. We will keep you updated on developments.
The exception is for students who are on our PGCE programmes. In-person teaching on these programmes will go ahead. Your School will advise you of the schedule as soon as it is available.
Examinations and revision lectures
Semester 1 examinations and associated revision lectures are already scheduled to be online and will go ahead as planned. You should therefore continue to prepare for any assessments and submit coursework by the existing deadlines.
If you have exams in the coming weeks, please refer back to the email dated 10th December here which contains detailed information about the examination processes.
There are a small number of cases where existing Semester 1 coursework deadlines are reliant on access to specialist facilities in teaching weeks 12-15 which is not possible for now. In these cases, we will either adjust the nature of the submission or the submission deadline appropriately, to ensure that no student is disadvantaged. Any changes will be advised by your academic School over the next few days.
Access to technology
If you are concerned about your access to resources such as IT hardware, software or an internet connection for your online assessments please contact us as soon as possible by email to let us know so that we can support you.
Access to study facilities
The University Library and IT rooms are open for those who do not have an appropriate place to study at home.
With much reluctance, national guidelines prevent us from allowing access to any other specialist resources and study spaces. Please be reassured that we will support students who are undertaking significant projects with practical elements as part of their degree programmes, to have the necessary access to specialist equipment as soon as the Government rules allow us to do so. We will continue to monitor the deadlines for assessed work, make adjustments and advise you of them when appropriate.
Review of term and semester dates
We are exploring options, including potentially minor changes to when Semester 2 starts and remaining terms start and end, to ensure that we can provide sufficient and appropriate access to facilities and in person teaching. Our absolute priorities are two-fold. First, to ensure students can meet the learning outcomes of their programmes and either progress to the next year of their studies, and for finalists to graduate within broadly a similar timeframe this academic year. Second, to maintain standards so that your qualification is a true reflection of your ability and continues to be recognised by employers and others for its academic credibility and value.
Further information will be provided to all students shortly.
As has been the case throughout we will continue to provide all our students with support. If you would like to talk to someone about your wellbeing or mental health please contact us here, call Student Services on 01509 222765 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Student Services on the number or email above it you are experiencing financial hardship or do not have access to equipment. We will do all we can to support you and all our services are available remotely.
Covid-19 testing (only for those who meet the criteria for return, as outlined under the ‘Returning to Loughborough’ section above)
If you meet the criteria for return please book a test via our Connect and Protect form. If you do not meet the criteria above you should not be returning to Loughborough at this time.
There is an expectation that any student who has to return to campus has a Covid-19 lateral flow test on their return (unless they have had a positive test within the last 90 days). Testing will help us to avoid bringing cases of Covid onto campus so that the risk of students having to self-isolate will be greatly reduced.
We have and continue to do our best to provide as much learning and as many campus activities as the Government restrictions will allow. The Government has made it clear that a further period of lockdown is necessary and required all universities to implement further restrictions. Everyone at the University recognises the position you are in. We shall do our very best, within the law, to provide you with a return to campus and opportunities to continue your studies. We shall keep in regular contact with you over the coming weeks and are updating our FAQ sites.
Thank you for your support, good will and co-operation in these challenging and difficult times.
Chief Operating Officer