Update for students - 9 September at 4pm
With the start of term approaching many students are returning to Loughborough and moving into off-campus residential accommodation. In the majority of cases these are student houses. For all students and staff, no matter where they live, we are asking everyone to follow seven golden rules to prevent Covid-19 spread.
- Protect others by staying at home if you need or are required to do so.
- Wear face coverings where required in enclosed areas including inside University buildings.
- Maintain good hygiene, in particular by washing or sanitising your hands regularly.
- Walk or cycle around the campus whenever possible.
- Follow guidance while moving around campus and pay attention to signs and pedestrian one-way systems.
- Follow any advice given by staff, such as the Security Team and our special COVID-19 Ambassadors.
- Do not breach Government rules on indoor social gatherings.
You will know that the Government announced changes yesterday to social gatherings, reducing the numbers who can meet together. It is this point on indoor social gatherings that leads me to send this message to you.
Every week I receive a report of incidents that the University Security Team have responded to in the last seven days. In the two weeks over the summer when most undergraduates were taking up tenancy agreements in private, off-campus accommodation, the majority of incidents were due to student house parties.
One of the areas where I have a legal responsibility is health and safety, including the welfare of staff and students. This includes some individuals in high-risk Coronavirus groups because of underlying health conditions, their age and in some cases disability. With the current Covid-19 restrictions, parties or other social gatherings that breach Government policy cannot take place.
I know that the vast majority of students will respect this and do their bit to protect not just the University but also the wider Loughborough community. We must all behave responsibly and this includes not breaking the law. Some of the people around us are particularly vulnerable. What we do must take account of this: we have a moral obligation to protect everyone through our actions.
When we sent questionnaires to students last academic year the message that came back loud and clear was students miss not being on campus at the University and we have done our best to address this by welcoming everyone back to Loughborough.
To those of you that do follow guidelines can I say a thank you. With your support we shall do our utmost to protect the Loughborough Family and maintain activity on the campus. Nonetheless I am a realist. I recognise that some students will not do as required and in doing so they put the whole University community at risk and increase likelihoods of a local lockdown.
I need to be clear: students that hold house parties that breach Government guidelines will be subject to immediate disciplinary action.
Students resident in the house where the social gathering has taken place will be deemed to present a Covid-19 risk. They will immediately be denied access to all areas of the University campus for 14 days. This includes academic facilities, halls of residence, sport and social activities and Loughborough Students’ Union.
I have consulted with the President of Loughborough Students’ Union, who fully supports the need to protect the student community and with that, actions to deter house parties.
If, as a consequence, practical classes or the equivalent are missed and work not completed this will impact on end-of-year results. This may sound harsh but the student(s) concerned will have knowingly broken the guidelines: this will not be something that has happened by chance and the detrimental academic consequence will only be a result of their own, inconsiderate behaviour.
The fourteen days will be used to instigate a disciplinary investigation. Where allegations are upheld, the students will be issued with a final warning, informing them that any further Covid-19 breaches will result in them being required to leave the University for the remainder of the 2020 /2021 academic year.
If the fourteen-day exclusion is breached during the investigation, that in itself will be deemed an offence and the student will be immediately suspended. Formal action will then be taken to exclude the student for the 2020 / 2021 academic year.
All action will be taken in accordance with Ordinance XVII of the University’s regulations that you assented to upon registration as a student at Loughborough.
One of my roles is to protect the University community and support the vast majority of colleagues and students who will be doing their utmost to keep the campus safe and Covid-19 free. If there is a local second wave of Covid-19 cases, we risk a local lockdown and having to close the campus. It is for these reasons that I am taking a very firm line.
In conclusion can I thank you all for everything that you will be doing, both at home and on the campus, to protect the University and wider Loughborough community to keep us all safe and well. I very much hope that none of the above is necessary but it is important that I am clear about the consequence for those that think they know better.
Professor Robert J. Allison