Update to students - 12 March at 6.45pm
I am writing to you to outline significant changes in our approach to Coronavirus. The UK Government has this afternoon announced that it is moving from the ‘Containment’ to the ‘Delay’ phase of its planned response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Please be reassured that we are taking these measures in order to minimise the risk of Coronavirus incidents on campus. There is still just a single confirmed case associated with the University.
In response I have today authorised that we should escalate our actions in line with our pre-prepared plans. These plans will be reviewed and may change in the future. This will alter the way in which we are responding to COVID-19. I have recorded a short message which you can view here. It is important all students read the following advice carefully.
A group led by our Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Professor Rachel Thomson, has been meeting to put in place appropriate arrangements for the continuity of our activities in the event of the University having to scale back its teaching.
Teaching will continue as normal until close of play tomorrow, Friday 13th March. From Monday 16th March we shall suspend ‘normal’ lecturing activity. By this we mean a learning activity led by an individual member of staff presenting to a group of students in a lecture theatre setting. We have asked academic colleagues to make best efforts to ensure that instead, lecture material is online within 24 hours of the scheduled session and made available through Learn in the normal way. There will still be opportunities for you to ask teaching staff questions.
In the short term, moving traditional lectures online will free up timetable slots which can be used instead to prioritise activities which are more difficult to replace virtually, such as students undertaking work in laboratories / studios and seminars / interactive discussions, which are still taking place. Please note that the short-term position may change rapidly.
The Library and other teaching and learning facilities will remain open for the time being. Many rooms normally used for lectures will therefore be available to you as additional study spaces.
We appreciate that you will all be concerned about your studies. Please be reassured that the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Teaching is working very closely with academic colleagues in Schools to ensure that you can all continue with your studies, undertake appropriate assessments and ultimately progress to the next stage of your University career. In particular, for those of you who are in the final year of your degree, we appreciate that this will be a worrying time. Please be reassured that we have a number of mechanisms in place to adjust assessments and moderate marks where it is appropriate to do so. We shall do our best to ensure that students are still able to achieve to their full potential.
If you wish to return home
Specific advice will be issued to Tier 4 visa holders today.
If you wish to return home, then you must let your School know. At this exceptional time, the University will agree to requests to leave early for Easter. You should however keep up with studies as best as you can via the online material we will make available on Learn. I reiterate that you must let us know if you decide to go home before the end of term so that we know who is here and who is not.
We strongly discourage you from travelling overseas for any non-essential activity. If you are intending to travel overseas as Easter approaches, we strongly advise that before setting off you look at the travel advice from the Government for the country you intend travelling to. For example, from 11 March people arriving from overseas into Beijing, irrespective of country of origin, must undertake 14 days of self-isolation at their place of residence or centralised quarantine. You should be mindful that the situation in the country you are going to might change at short notice. Please also bear in mind that the University may be unable to effectively intervene or assist you should you become stranded overseas.
If you are already overseas, we advise that you consider returning home now. Please look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for travel advice about returning to the UK.
Events on campus
We have taken the decision to cancel some large-scale events scheduled on campus. LSU’s FND will be suspended from this Friday and other large events will be suspended from Monday (including Stupid Tuesdays, Hey Ewe and FND). LSU remains open as normal otherwise.
Please follow listings and announcements carefully to stay abreast.
These measures are likely to stay in place until the new term but will be reviewed regularly.
One of the best things we can all do to try and minimise the risk of any infection spreading is to wash your 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.
I conclude by thanking you for your sensible and proportionate approach to the challenges that we are likely to face over the coming days and weeks.