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Update to staff - 11 May at 5.30pm

Dear Colleagues

Further to my message of last Tuesday (5th May), I am writing as promised to provide detail on the University’s tentative steps to resumption.

It is important for me to say that our campuses are not unsafe. It is the number of people on campus and how they are able to work that is at issue, rather than the workplace itself. The University’s plan therefore is to open facilities to allow some work to recommence that cannot be done from home, but discourage a wider return and limit the number of colleagues and students so that effective social distancing and other important processes (eg cleaning and maintenance) can take place. To reiterate some important points:

  • Any return will therefore 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.
  • You should only return if you have been asked by your manager or have agreed a return with your School/Service. If this is not your situation, you should continue to work remotely.
  • Where it is safe to do so and a risk assessment has been carried out, some colleagues will (and have) been asked to return.
  • Returning to campus will, in most instances, involve a rota. Most individuals will return for part of their working week.
  • Colleagues should continue to 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. Managers have been asked to take this into account in their planning with the primacy it warrants.

Health and safety as a priority
 
Currently colleagues are asked to work from home wherever this is possible. However, a few activities are starting to be introduced back on to the campus and there is quite naturally a degree of nervousness amongst colleagues as this starts to happen.

To make sure that colleagues are not put at risk, a detailed risk assessment process has been underway for the last few weeks. The risk assessment has a number of parts, and Schools/Services will put these parts in place before any activity recommences.

The first step is that the School or Service must be clear that the activity cannot be performed from home.

After this Schools/Services have a range of checks and procedures to put in place in their facilities, including physically marking out facilities to enable effective social distancing.

Any colleagues who are returning to campus are asked to view a short social distancing presentation online. If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus.

We are working closely with our campus union colleagues to make sure that they are satisfied with the approach we are taking and will share any relevant risk assessments with them.

There has been a lot of debate in the press about the use of masks and personal protective equipment. Our aim is to manage our activities so that they can be safely performed without the use of any additional personal protective equipment, through good risk assessment and proper social distancing arrangements.

In its guidance published today, the Government has recommended the use of face coverings in certain situations. Specifically, people are advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible or where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

The Government has published guidance on face coverings and updated University guidance will be available in the next few days.
 
Advice for specific staff groups
 
Academic colleagues

Where colleagues can work from home, that must continue.

Following risk assessments, some research laboratories are beginning to open but in a restricted way, with researchers working to a rota. Please speak to your Operations Manager or Dean for more information.

Teaching remains online. Thank you for all the changes colleagues have made to support this shift.

Some pool space, offices and lecture theatres with recording equipment are available where an individual must come in for a limited period (eg to record teaching material that can’t effectively be done from home). Please speak to your School for specific details. Not all buildings are available at this time as we are prioritising the checks described in the previous section in certain facilities.

If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus. All colleagues must view the University’s social distancing presentation.

Doctoral Researchers (PGRs)

If your work does not require essential research or laboratory facilities, you should continue to work from home.

If your work does include essential research or laboratory facilities, then any return to working on campus must be discussed with and approved by your supervisors (who in turn should take advice from their School Operations Manager). Any return is being phased on a gradual basis. Most facilities are unavailable at this stage.

If you have not been contacted by your supervisors (or similar, eg School Operations Manager) you should not return to campus.

Student Services, the Doctoral College and the Student Enquiries Counter remain open virtually and can be contacted via the usual email addresses and phone numbers. Graduate House remains closed but we continue to provide support including via the Remote Learning for Researchers portal.

If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus. All colleagues must view the University’s social distancing presentation.

Technical colleagues in Schools

Following the completion of risk assessments, some research activity is beginning to recommence but in a restricted way with researchers working to a rota. If you are needed on campus your Technical Manager or Operations Manager will have been in touch directly.

Face-to-face teaching activity will not resume for now.

If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus. All colleagues must view the University’s social distancing presentation.

Please speak to your Technical Manager of Operations Manager for more information.

Operational job family and Technical colleagues not in Schools
 
Some colleagues are returning to campus in a phased way where:

  • Colleagues can’t work remotely
  • There is sufficient important work to warrant it and
  • It is safe to do so (including risk assessments being in place).

Your manager or Head of Service will be in touch directly with you to discuss returning. If you have not been contacted, you should assume you should not return to campus at this point.

If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus. All colleagues must view the University’s social distancing presentation.

Management and Administrative job family colleagues

Where colleagues can work from home, that should continue.

If you cannot work from home, or need to visit campus for an essential part of your role, please speak to your manager so that this can be facilitated if appropriate.

A small number of roles essential to resuming activity have returned to campus.

If you are working alone on the East Midlands campus, you should use the lone working app; separate arrangements are in place for colleagues on the London campus. All colleagues must view the University’s social distancing presentation.

This message is intended to provide a framework for how we begin a return to campus in a gradual, safe manner. Everyone’s personal position is different in terms of their health, caring responsibilities and ability to work effectively from home – this is genuinely recognised. If you do have concerns or questions about how this framework affects you, please contact your manager in the first instance. The FAQs on the Covid-19 website are being updated over the next 24 hours to reflect the information in the framework.

Our core message remains – continue to work from home where you can and only come to campus if asked by or agreed with your manager.

Finally let me again thank you for everything you continue to do for the University, our students and each other.

Kind wishes

Richard Taylor
Chief Operating Officer