Update to staff - 5 May at 4.30pm
I want to again express my sincere gratitude for the many different ways in which colleagues continue to support each other and our students at this challenging time.
I also want to update you on a number of developments including how the University will manage activity over the coming weeks on our two campuses. The detail is work in progress and will not be finalised until after we have heard the Prime Minister’s planned announcement on Sunday 10th May. In this regard all staff should expect a further email late on Monday 11th May, which will include further information on how we shall gradually resume on-campus activities.
Resuming activity on our campuses
First let me emphasise some important principles:
- Any return will be gradual and phased. Different colleagues will return at different times.
- Where people can, the norm will remain that people continue to work from home, entirely or for a significant proportion of their time, for the foreseeable future.
- Returning to campus will, in most instances, involve a rota. Most individuals will return for part of their working week.
- No one will be made to return to work at either our London or East Midlands campus unless we are content it is safe to do so.
- As measures begin to gradually ease, colleagues should discuss their individual personal circumstances with their manager. Everyone’s personal position is different, and we shall endeavour to account for this in what we do next.
- We will support any colleague who has received a shielding letter from the NHS/Government so that they can effectively follow the advice given to them.
- Many colleagues have caring responsibilities that have needed to be their priority. We remain understanding and fully supportive of our colleagues and the challenges they are contending with.
This week we have enabled some colleagues to resume limited laboratory activity in a safe and supported way. This is in addition to ongoing Covid-19 research. In both cases significant modifications to normal working practice have been necessary and this will be the case for all of us as we gradually recommence activity.
The messages we are hearing from the Government make it clear that home working will remain the norm for most people for some time to come. As stated earlier, limited activity has commenced again on our campuses and this will gradually increase. As part of returning to campus, guidance and a short training session on Social Distancing at the University have been developed and are available on Learn.
All colleagues returning onto campus (including essential workers who have been attending campus) will be asked to familiarise themselves with the guidance and confirm their understanding.
People are more vulnerable when working alone on campus and for this reason it is generally discouraged. The current situation however means more lone working is likely to take place and a new lone worker app has been developed and is available to everyone working on our estate. The app logs where someone is on site and raises the alarm if they have not responded within a time set by the user. Details of the app and associated guidance can be found on the Health and Safety web pages.
The UK Government has said that face coverings will be "useful" as part of the strategy for coming out of lockdown, although no further information has been given at this stage. We will update the University advice as further announcements are made.Please look out for further information on this and other matters over the coming days.
Colleagues in the Sports Development Centre have developed resources and activities to support physical well-being, available on our Loughborough Sport Lockdown site.
You will also wish to review the University’s information on well-being more generally – not least in case you find yourself in a position of advising a colleague about the resources on the site.
Colleagues have adopted many different ways of contacting each other and working together in recent weeks. You should use whatever platform is most appropriate and secure for your work activities. It is important to remember to open the Cisco Jabber app on your device(s) or divert telephone calls. This enables the University switchboard to transfer incoming calls. In some recent instances important calls could not be connected because apps were not open.
A number of questions have been asked about PDR. The University remains committed to facilitating discussions about performance and professional growth. However, it has been agreed with Deans and Directors of Professional Services that the deadline for this year’s PDR can be varied depending on the particular needs and circumstances of individuals. The absolute deadline has been extended to the end of the academic year. We recognise that some colleagues will not be able to complete all of their objectives for the year. The impact of Covid-19 on each individual will be taken into account when performance is reviewed next year. Where appropriate, objectives can be modified throughout the remainder of 2020. This year’s PDR-informed reward programme has also been suspended.
Learning and teaching matters
I would like to thank staff for the significant efforts made to offer live teaching sessions this term – both academic colleagues and the professional service colleagues who have provided support. We have seen a substantial increase in activity and I know from their elected representatives that our students are very appreciative. Choosing the right online tool for the situation can be challenging, and we have lots of information to support colleagues on the Delivering Teaching Remotely page.
Friday saw the release of the exam timetable as planned to students. As a result of removing the constraint of desks in the exam hall, the team have managed to significantly reduce the number of consecutive exams compared to last year. Thank you for making necessary changes to your papers. It is vital that the papers are error free because students will not be able to raise queries in the virtual exam hall.
The University will not run Module Feedback in the normal way this semester. Instead it will be replacing it with a Programme level survey. This will give us the opportunity to ask more general questions about modules, and importantly to gain feedback on the switch to online teaching, in particular what the students have missed most from face-to-face contact and what they welcome from the online mode of delivery.
This has also not been an easy time for many of our Doctoral Researchers and I would like to thank supervisors, Directors of Doctoral Programmes and administrative and well-being staff for the additional support and guidance they have been providing.
Throughout the lockdown period we have continued to provide support to all our students remotely. Hall Wardens have been supporting those individuals who have had to remain in residence. Our Student Wellbeing Team have created self-help resources and any student wanting to talk to someone about health and wellbeing concerns can make contact with the Team in the usual ways which are detailed here. We are offering video and telephone appointments. This support is available to taught and research postgraduate students as well as undergraduates.
We will be launching access to further online resources for staff and students in the coming days. There will be a separate communication about this in due course.
Students on taught programmes should not return to campus at this time. This will remain the case until restrictions are lifted to a point where we can do so safely.
Finally, thank you again for all you continue to do for the University, your colleagues and our students. It is very much appreciated.
Chief Operating Officer