Update to staff - 12 March at 6.30pm
The Government has this afternoon announced that it is moving to the ‘Delay’ phase of its planned response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes new advice on what to do if you have a high temperature or a new continuous cough.
In response I have today authorised that we should escalate our actions in line with our pre-prepared plans. This will change the way in which we are responding to COVID-19 and it is important all colleagues read this message carefully to understand what this means. These measures remain in place as a minimum until the start of the new term. I recognise that some of the requests in this email are challenging. Please be reassured that we are taking these measures in order to minimise the risk of Coronavirus incidents at our University. There is still just a single confirmed case associated with the University.
Students will receive detail of these changes very shortly, but I wanted to make sure colleagues received them first.
I can only ask that you try your very best endeavours to support our students and each other at this time. I have also recorded a short message which you can watch here.
University teaching and PhD student supervision
A group led by Professor Rachel Thomson has been meeting to put in place appropriate arrangements for business continuity in the event of the University having to scale back its teaching activity.
Teaching will continue normally until close of play tomorrow, Friday 13th March. However, from Monday 16th we will suspend ‘normal’ lecturing activity until further notice and move this activity online, as best as we possibly can. We define lecturing for this purpose as a member of staff delivering in a traditional lecture style to a cohort of students, where that activity is typically captured and made available on ReView after the session.
In the short term, moving traditional lectures online will free up timetable slots which can be used instead to prioritise activities which are not as easy to replace virtually, such as students undertaking work in laboratories / studios and seminars / interactive discussions. Please note that the short-term position may change rapidly.
Moving lecture delivery online at short notice is challenging and I ask colleagues simply to deploy their very best endeavours. I know you will have a series of questions about how we can collectively prepare for online teaching and learning. To this end, we have developed online guidance to assist you.
- If the lecture you were due to deliver this year is the same or very similar to last year, you should make it available to students through Learn. All content from semester 2 in the 2018-19 academic year is currently being uploaded into the ReView block of your 2019-20 Learn Module and will be available within the next 24 hours if it’s not there already. All you need to do is check its arrival, rename it if you wish, and highlight its availability to your students. If the material is not applicable for whatever reason, you will need to go into Learn and delete any captured sessions which are no longer relevant.
- If the lecture you were due to deliver is new or has changed significantly, you will need to record it - details of how to do this are given here. Additional headsets have been ordered and will be available early next week to help you with this.
We will open a bank of phone lines at 11am tomorrow, staffed by colleagues who will be able to help with any questions about these technical tasks. Please call 222848 from 11am for help with this matter.
PhD supervision should continue as close to normal as possible. Online tools, which are normally only used exceptionally, may be utilised at this time where appropriate and comparable in terms of thoroughness.
We are also considering the current assessments for all modules and a streamlined process is being put in place which will allow staff to adjust or offer alternative assessment methods, working with the Associate Deans (Teaching) in the Schools. Further details will be provided in due course as the situation evolves.
We discourage you from travelling overseas for any non-essential business. If you consider it imperative that you do travel, please check the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and be mindful of how the situation might change, at short notice, in the country you are due to travel to. Please be aware that the University or its insurers may not be in a position to intervene or assist you if you become stranded overseas.
If you are already overseas, we advise you to consider whether to return home early. If you choose to stay, that is an appropriate response. Please read the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for travel advice about returning to the UK.
You may also wish to consider minimising travel in the UK. Visiting placements students can be moved to be online for example.
Events on campus
Events planned for campus from Monday 16th March should be reconsidered on the following basis and in this order:
- Are they in a confined space?
- Are they indoors?
- Do they involve a large number of people?
- Do people have complex travel arrangements to arrive, in particular using public transport?
Consider the risk based on these points. The more you answer yes to the above questions, the more you should consider postponing or cancellation. We have advised LSU to cancel their regular Friday Night Disco and similar events on this basis but have agreed to things like orienteering activity on campus. Saturday’s visit days will go ahead. If in doubt please, consult your manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We now want to ask managers to begin to make arrangements for colleagues to consider working remotely when that becomes appropriate. As a priority, managers are therefore asked to do the following:
- Contact each member of their team to discuss the practical arrangements for this
- Ensure that employees have registered for MFA and have the appropriate equipment to be able to work at home. If they have not registered for MFA, they cannot remote work.
- Consider how core activities, including teaching, can be maintained
- Agree how lines of communication/team updates will be implemented while people are working remotely
- Clarify the circumstances when colleagues need to attend work and make arrangements that all appropriate services can be supported
- Prioritise any colleagues who have medically diagnosed underlying health conditions to be able to work from home
It may take a few days to put these arrangements in place so please bear with your manager while they put this into practice.
If it is feasible for you to work remotely and you wish to do so, you must discuss this option with your line manager. Schools and Services will need to maintain most operations at all times during core hours, for the foreseeable future. There is no right to work remotely and it will not be possible for everyone to do so. Remote working is not the same as self-isolation and, even if you work remotely for some of the time, you may still come, or be asked to come, to campus to perform some duties. The Chief Operating Officer wrote to you earlier today about the actions you must take now to prepare for remote working which must be followed. This communication is available on our Coronavirus website.
If you are a Doctoral Researcher and your research requires you to have access to a specific piece of equipment, please speak to your supervisor to discuss whether any contingency is possible. If you are unable to access a piece of equipment during a period of remote working, consider whether there are other activities, such as literature reviews or writing, than can be completed remotely.
One of the best things we can all do to try and minimise the risk of any infection spreading is to wash hands regularly, using soap and water. One of my colleagues has produced a short video that shows why handwashing is very effective. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, throw it in the bin and wash your hands immediately.
We are updating our dedicated website regularly, in line with advice from the NHS, Public Health England and the Government and to reflect any new questions we are being commonly asked. The FAQs will shortly reflect the content of this email. Please do look at the site regularly for the most up to date information.
Thank you for everything that you will be doing at this challenging time: I much appreciate your support and willingness to adapt working practices for the wellbeing of the whole Loughborough University community.