Update for staff - 26 March 2021
Dear Colleagues and Doctoral Researchers
As we approach the Easter break, I want to provide you with an update on our plans for the summer term and to say thank you, once again, for everything you are doing. The last 12 months have been challenging for us all in so many ways, but those of us in leadership positions are truly grateful and incredibly proud of the way in which everyone on both our campuses has responded.
Later today I will send an email to our students to remind them how the Government’s revisions to the national lockdown restrictions will affect life at the University from the summer term. I have included a copy of this message at the foot of this email.
The Government is expected to make a further announcement during week beginning 5th April to outline the next phase of its plan for students’ return to university after Easter. We will write again to the students at that time to confirm arrangements for the summer term and we will share a copy of this message with you. Our base planning scenario is that next term operates similarly to the first term of the academic year in terms of learning, teaching and operations – this is somewhat dependent though on the Government’s review.
Working on campus
As lockdown restrictions begin to slowly ease, I am sure colleagues will be considering how the changes will affect them. Our base plan is for colleagues who have been remote working to begin a gradual, phased return to working on campus after Easter as our students return and Government restrictions change. We will continue to fuse home working and on-campus activity. This approach will allow us to manage our response to the pandemic carefully, mitigating risks in balance with our operational needs and commitments. There is scope within this approach for different arrangements for different individuals (for example, where an adjustment has been agreed with Occupational Health). Managers in your Academic Schools and Professional Services departments will let you know the plans for your individual areas.
Our stance remains for the time being to work from home where you are able to, but individuals should come to campus (fully or partially) if they cannot effectively perform their role remotely or it is in the interest of their own wellbeing to do so.
Separately, work is ongoing to determine how some remote working might be maintained, fused with an individual’s on-campus activity, after the end of the pandemic, where individuals wish this, and it is in the best interest of the organisation.
If you are working on campus it is very important that you continue to adhere to the social distancing requirements that are in place in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. You must continue to follow these arrangements even if you have had a negative test and/or you have been vaccinated.
All colleagues who are working on campus for any period, including those who have been vaccinated, should obtain a free and rapid Covid test at least weekly in order to keep our community as safe as possible. In Loughborough you can do this by booking here. At our London campus, testing is available on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10am and 2pm at the 4th floor test centre. Further information is available on the Covid website and there is also an FAQ under the Working on Campus section.
Loughborough student compliance with testing is incredibly high with 95% of those here being regularly tested – by far, we believe, the highest proportion in the country.
I am sure some of you will already have received at least your first Covid vaccination as part of the UK-wide programme. I would encourage all colleagues and Doctoral Researchers to take advantage of this opportunity when it is offered to you.
If you are given a vaccination appointment during your normal working day, you may take reasonable time off to travel to and from the vaccination centre. You will not be required to make up this time. We would ask, however, that you inform your manager or supervisor of your appointment as soon as you can, so that they can make the necessary arrangements to cover your work if appropriate. If you are able to book your own appointment, please try to book it at the beginning or end of your working day to avoid disruption as much as possible.
I know many staff will be taking some time off over the Easter vacation and others will be working throughout to deliver essential services to our students and to maintain University operations. Whatever you may be doing, I hope you manage to have a break and that we can continue to take positive steps out of lockdown when we return after Easter.
Chief Operating Officer
As the spring term comes to an end, I want to thank you for the way in which you have dealt with the difficult circumstances we have all been facing. It has been challenging for us all, but you, our students, have been outstanding in your approach and the care you have shown for each other.
Last month the Government outlined its roadmap to gradually ease out of lockdown. This email summarises our current plans in response: please read it carefully.
The Government is due to make a further announcement during the week beginning 5th April to outline the next phase of its plan for students’ return to university after Easter. We shall write to you again at that time to confirm arrangements for the summer term. Please check your email for this message and make sure you read it thoroughly. Our base planning assumption is that all students will return to the University for in-person teaching after the Easter break, but this is very dependent on the Government’s announcement and we do not yet know what they will say.
We must continue to work together to keep the campus as safe as possible and avoid jeopardising the rest of the academic year and everything it has to offer. Please continue to follow the guidelines that we have in place. They are designed to keep you, University staff and members of the wider Loughborough community as safe as possible. Please follow the guidelines at all times, even if you test negative for Covid.
The framework that we have at Loughborough is about minimising the risk to yourself and reducing the possible impact of Covid on other members of our community and their families, who may be vulnerable.
Returning home for the Easter break
Under the current Government guidance, students are permitted to return home once for the Easter break if they wish to. If you intend to travel home for Easter, you should take a test before you leave. You can do this via the Connect and Protect form. If your test result is positive, you will have to self-isolate for ten days in your term-time accommodation and should not travel home.
Students who are based overseas
Under the current Government guidance, you are allowed to return home if you wish but you must complete the Government travel declaration form in advance, to show that you have a valid, legal reason to travel. You should also bear in mind that if travel restrictions change while you are overseas, it might be difficult or even impossible for you to get back into England.
Learning and teaching
If the Government review on 5th April permits, our plan is for all students to return to the University at the end of the Easter vacation for in-person teaching. If it does not permit we will write to you with further detail.
The summer term begins on Monday 26th April, which is week 8 of Semester 2, and our current plan is to take a similar approach to teaching delivery as we were able to do for Semester 1 in the autumn term. Your timetable will show you the colour-coded in-person sessions, and any live online MS Teams sessions and appropriate on-demand content as previously. Please note that the room details for the in-person classes will be added after the Government announcement.
The week commencing Monday 19th April (the fourth week of the Easter vacation) has been designated a ‘catch-up’ week for those on programmes requiring practical teaching, the use of specialist facilities and other activities postponed from the spring term. All students will already have been notified by their School about what will be happening if this applies to you.
Please note that over the Easter period campus will remain open as currently, which will mean that spaces are available for students to study.
Students not currently in the UK
Please make your best efforts to return and be here by Monday 19th April if you have in-person catch-up classes scheduled during that week, or by Monday 26th April, the start of the summer term, if your in-person classes are due to resume then.
If you are studying a programme requiring practical teaching or specialist facilities and are not going to be able to return to attend the in-person classes scheduled for you in April you should contact your School immediately if you have not already done so, as it may not be possible to make arrangements for you to complete the year via online study.
Students studying other programmes who are not able to return to in-person classes from 26th April 2021 should now let the University know their plans using the online form available here.
If you are currently outside the UK, please find detailed information on returning to the UK and the teaching and learning on your programmes for the remainder of Semester 2 here.
To assist with your travel planning, we have put together an overview on our website of the Covid tests you will need to take before you travel to the UK and once you are here. The site also provides information about quarantine when you arrive in the UK.
Once your quarantine period is complete, you will be required to take a free Covid test at least once a week. You should book this using the Connect and Protect form.
Covid testing for UK-based students
Throughout the Easter period, you may receive emails asking you to update us on whether you are currently at your term time address. Please do respond to these emails as it helps us to ensure that we have an accurate understanding of who is on campus.
If you are returning to your home address over the Easter break
You must take a test immediately prior to leaving the University. You should book this via the Connect and Protect form. If your test result is positive, you will have to self-isolate for ten days in your term-time accommodation and should not travel.
Before you return to the University for the summer term
You should take a test before you travel, if community testing facilities are available near your home. If you are travelling from an area which is currently undergoing surge testing you must have a test before you travel.
If the test is positive, you must not travel until your period of self-isolation is complete. We shall make sure that you can catch up on any missed work.
When you return to the University
You must book a lateral flow Covid test on your arrival and before you access any part of the campus including Halls of Residence. The only exception is those that have had a positive Covid test within the last 90 days. You should do this using the Connect and Protect form.
Once on campus, all students will be required to take a free Covid test at least once a week. This is essential because we already know that it is having a major positive impact on how we can minimise Covid transmission in the student community and provide reassurance to our community.
If you are currently based outside the UK, please follow the separate instructions regarding testing when travelling to the UK from overseas, as outlined on our website.
If you remain at the University over Easter
You will need to continue taking a free Covid test at least once a week. Please book you tests using the Connect and Protect form.
Supporting your wellbeing
If you are feeling anxious or worried at all about how the current situation is affecting you, please remember that there is help available.
Student Services (E: email@example.com, T: 01509 222765) offers a range of support, mental health and wellbeing and financial advice. You can also access online support 24/7 through the Togetherall platform. The Centre for Faith and Spirituality (E: firstname.lastname@example.org, T: 01509 223741) offers a space for reflection and has chaplains of various faiths.
Loughborough Students’ Union’s Welfare and Diversity team can also offer guidance and support.
To support students in challenging financial circumstances, the University has hardship funds available – more information is available here.
Sport and other campus activities
The Government has announced that outdoor sports are likely to resume from 29th March. Gyms and pools can open from 12th April.
Where possible we shall re-open our facilities. It is our intention to hold sporting fixtures (including IMS) from the week commencing 19th April, Government guidelines permitting.
LSU have informed us that their Socially Distanced Social Club will resume when outdoor licensed areas can recommence activity. At present this is likely to be from 12th April. Indoor venues could re-open from 17th May. LSU is working with the University so that other sections and societies can recommence in-person activity and will publish details through their channels.
VC Bob has been working with Hall Committees and sport club captains who are developing plans for activities that are consistent with the prevailing Covid rules at the time.
Chief Operating Officer