Update to staff - 26 June at 10am
I know that many of you have been working hard to support our students with their remote assessment over the last few weeks. Some of you will now be busy with marking. Thank you for your tremendous effort. The move to remote assessment was a huge shift for the whole University. Your commitment has ensured that our students have been able to engage very successfully with the new process.
As lockdown continues to ease in England, we are slowly returning to activity on our two campuses. More than half our laboratories are in operation. Our sports facilities are re-opening in line with national guidance. Office-based activity remains minimal but is starting again. Support services such as cleaning are being built back up. Everything is being done in a carefully managed way to ensure that our campuses remain as safe as possible for everyone.
Whilst the norm continues to be to work from home, there are now protocols for those who need to come to campus to do so. Please discuss with your Operations Manager or Director of Service if you need to do this. Wherever possible, I would ask colleagues to work from one of our campuses for a day, at some point over July, so that you can become familiar with the safety protocols that we have established ahead of a managed return later, as we approach term. This is not a signal for a return to ‘normal’ in the near future, instead it is a signal that for most, fusing home and campus working will need to be the approach in this next phase.
There is clear evidence that Covid-19 does not affect all population groups in the same way. There may be specific concerns for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff. These issues have been a priority in the discussions of the University’s Covid-19 Gold Group, chaired by the Chief Operating Officer, and the University’s overarching response to the pandemic. We will be supportive and understanding of any concerns you may have about your return to work following the lockdown. You should feel confident in raising any concerns you may have with your line manager in the first instance.
With the summer term now at an end, we have already begun planning for the 2020/21 academic year. Our plans will undoubtedly be different from previous years. Earlier this month I emailed our students to let them know how the next academic year will look. Our intention is to run as much in person teaching as possible where we know we can do it safely. We shall be ready to adapt as Government guidance changes. Further details of the 2020/21 academic year will be confirmed in the coming weeks and I shall keep you informed as they emerge.
One change was approved by Senate on 17th June. We shall move the start of the next academic year back by one week, beginning on 5th October rather than 28th September. The start of the Spring and Summer terms will also be moved back by a week so that the break periods remain the same. This will bring several benefits, for example the opportunity to offer a more expansive ‘welcome’ for our new students, including a Personal Best programme to help students build up confidence in their study skills and transition into University life.
Looking ahead, the priority for us all is to ensure that we focus on our core activities. That will, of course, be different for all of us. It may mean providing the best possible learning experience for our students or continuing with cutting-edge research. It may be ensuring that our staff and students are supported in whatever they do. Whatever your role, I know that you will deliver it to the very best of your ability.
The strength and resilience you have all shown over the last few months has been outstanding. I know that you will continue to show the same commitment and tenacity as we start to move towards the next academic year.
Professor Bob Allison