Update for staff - 11 November
Dear Colleagues and Doctoral Researchers,
As you may know, the Department for Education has written to Vice-Chancellors today with guidelines for managing preparations for the Christmas vacation. I should state that the media received the details ahead of universities, raising many questions from students that we have had to move swiftly today to answer. We have discussed the guidelines with local public health officials to take account of our specific local circumstances. I will shortly write to taught students with the message below.
Please note that Doctoral Researchers are not affected by the changes to teaching detailed below, although they will be able to access the additional tests referred to in the testing paragraph. We are also aiming to make this service available to staff who have worked from campus, who may have a requirement for asymptomatic testing prior to the Christmas break.
This email contains important information about arrangements for the end of term, the Christmas vacation and the start of the new term in January 2021.
The Government has written to all Vice-Chancellors today to outline the measures it recommends that universities take in the lead up to Christmas to ensure that students who wish and are able to, can return home safely for the festive period.
For undergraduate and postgraduate taught students:
- Fast-turnaround testing will be available on the East Midlands campus sometime during the week of 23rdNovember, for any student (including non-symptomatic students) who wishes to have a test. Testing arrangements for London students are also in place and students will be contacted with further details in the coming days by the Operations Director, Chris Euden, in London. We encourage all students returning home to take advantage of these tests at no personal cost but it will be particularly helpful to those returning overseas for the Christmas vacation and those who have vulnerable family members at home. We will publish information as soon as possible on how to book a test. Students who are symptomatic can already gain information here on how to get a test.
- In-person teaching on both the Loughborough and London campuses will continue up to and including Wednesday 9th December 2020. At that point, all lectures and seminars will move online where possible until the end of term on Friday 18th December, following the existing timetable.
- Workshops, practical classes and laboratory work timetabled in specialist spaces will continue in-person until the end of Friday 11th December.
- The University and our halls of residence will remain open and study spaces, including the Library, will be available so that students can carry out independent learning and dissertation / project work. Other specialist spaces usually available to students will also remain open up to the Christmas closure on 23rdDecember 2020.
- If in-person teaching activities in week 11, from 14th to 18th December, are such that they cannot be moved online (such as laboratory practical classes, workshops and studio activity), we shall make changes to the taught programme so that the learning outcomes can still be met. In many cases we hope to be able to provide an alternative opportunity to undertake such activities at a later point in the academic year. Most importantly, you will not be disadvantaged as a result of any change. Further information will follow shortly where it is relevant to your degree programme.
- Coursework and other assessment deadlines remain unchanged unless you are told otherwise. You should submit work for assessment via Learn in the usual way.
- Campus activities that are low risk, including sport, will resume on 3rd December assuming Government rules are changed as planned.
- Students will be able to choose when they return home for Christmas. The University will begin to ask students shortly for your intended leave date so that staff can co-ordinate this safely. We will not be instructing you to leave on a specific date. Please note however that if you opt to leave closer to Christmas, and become Covid-19 positive in that period, the Government rules are that you should isolate for 10 days.
We continue to work on our plans for January but details for now include the following.
- The new term will commence on 11th January 2021 on both campuses. The University will be open and plans are in place to resume activities such as sport. You will be welcome to return to campus in the New Year. For those who have timetabled in-person classes, these will take place as planned. We will write to you with further information about the arrangements for the new term shortly.
- Please note that revision sessions for exams in week 12, commencing 11th January, will be online.
- Teaching, including in-person classes, will continue in some disciplines where there are no or very few exams. Please refer to your normal timetable for details.
- Semester 1 examinations will commence on 18th January until 3rd February as planned, with assessments carried out online. The exam timetable should be available from 10th December. We will provide further information next week about online exams, including an opportunity for you to practice submitting work, and the Loughborough Safety Nets which will apply.
- International students who return to their homes over the Christmas period should plan to be able to attend in-person teaching no later than the start of Semester 2 on 8th February, having completed any quarantine requirements prior to this date. You should check what in-person teaching you will have depending on your discipline in weeks 12-15 of Semester 1 after Christmas.
We know that, as usual, there are students who will remain in our Halls of Residence or in private rented accommodation over the Christmas and New Year period. Be reassured that if you are planning to stay, in particular if you are unable to travel home, we shall care for and support you during this time.
Please remember that nationwide restrictions remain in place until 2nd December. After this time we anticipate that restrictions will ease, allowing sport and low-risk activities to resume at the University.
I appreciate that you are likely to have questions about how the arrangements will work in practice. As soon as my colleagues have worked through all of the implications we shall email you again.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Professor Robert J. Allison
Vice-Chancellor & President