September 15th, 2020
The University has published supplementary guidance on in-person and synchronous teaching, building safety, and campus testing facilities to provide clarity for staff and ensure a consistency of approach by managers across the institution.
This further guidance is intended to complement the Guiding Principles for Teaching in 2020-21 and the Return to Operations: Managers Guide (HR) which have been reviewed and reconfirmed as fully compliant with – and in many respects exceeding – the updated guidance for universities issued by the Department for Education.
The health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students is of paramount importance, and the approach to teaching has been developed in the knowledge that teaching staff place the highest professional and personal investment in its delivery.
The guidance is intended to enable the continued provision of high quality teaching whilst recognising the need for flexibility to ensure the health and welfare of staff and students alike. It is published alongside all key guidance for staff on the CV19 Recovery Planning webpages, and reproduced below.
Teaching in person
The University of Nottingham is committed to providing as much in-person teaching as can be delivered safely under present or future circumstances. In-person teaching is an essential component of the high quality experience that all students expect and contributes to their well-being. However, this expectation for in-person teaching wherever possible does not override the University’s duty of care to staff.
It follows that while the University expects staff involved in teaching to attend campus wherever it is safe to do so, no member of teaching staff should be compelled to return to campus-based teaching if this poses a demonstrable risk to their physical or mental health in the context of a covid-secure environment.
Guidance to line managers has been designed to facilitate an approach that is specific to the individual, while being applied in a manner which is fair to all staff, and considers the student experience.The University recognises that as well as clinical vulnerability, there are other legitimate factors that could affect an individual’s ability to undertake campus-based teaching.
Online synchronous teaching
The University encourages staff to deliver synchronous online sessions where appropriate to support student engagement and student contact with their peers and tutors. Due to the technical demands of such delivery and/or circumstances at home, this may often best be achieved on campus. However, there may be situations or occasions where delivery from home may be a more practical or necessary solution.
Heads of School are best placed to understand the requirements for their Schools and should feel confident in discussing these with teaching staff and making local decisions about the location of synchronous online teaching.
Such decisions will take into account the personal circumstances of individual teaching staff as well as the need to ensure high quality delivery. Human Resources will support Heads of School and teaching staff in these discussions as necessary.
Building safety and cleaning
The University has implemented comprehensive measures to ensure that campuses are safe for staff and students to return which are detailed on the Recovery Board SharePoint site. There is a Master Risk Assessment and each school, department or other unit is required to submit a separate risk assessment before buildings can re-open, checking and confirming a range of considerations such as movement within the building, social distancing measures and a maximum 50% occupancy rate. Particular emphasis has been placed on ensuring good ventilation in all teaching rooms.
The approach to cleaning buildings, work and teaching spaces includes enhanced regimes that draw on the most recent scientific advice, and are in line with the approach being taken across the education, public and commercial sectors.
To provide further assurance, teaching rooms will be equipped with high grade anti-viral cleaning materials to enable staff and students to self-clean the areas they will come into close contact with, such as chairs and desk surfaces. Clear guidance on how to undertake this cleaning safely will be displayed in each room.
Teaching staff are not expected to clean classroom areas other than the personal work space they will come into close contact with. While staff should feel empowered to encourage cleaning by students, they are not expected to enforce it, and self-cleaning does not imply an assumption of any additional legal responsibility for health and safety.
Testing and tracing
The University will continue to provide clear and regular communications for staff and students to follow social distancing measures and will act swiftly and responsibly in the event of anyone exhibiting possible coronavirus symptoms.
To deliver fast access to coronavirus testing on campus, two Local Testing Solutions (LTS) will be based on University Park Campus and Jubilee Campus in October. These are semi-permanent walk-in testing facilities with tests processed by the Government’s Lighthouse Labs. Appointments will be bookable online and both facilities will be open to staff, students and members of the local community.
The University is also developing an in-house testing service specifically designed to tackle asymptomatic transmission amongst students and staff. This follows on from the success of two pilot schemes run over the last six months looking at scientific innovations in the testing process as well as providing asymptomatic testing for the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.
To ensure effective use of campus space and contact tracing, the University will use our Eduroam WiFi network to help support local public health and the national NHS Test and Trace scheme in identifying close contacts of positive cases where they occur on campus. The scheme will be fully in line with GDPR and data protection requirements. Participation is optional and the data gathered will only be used for this specified purpose and not for any other reason.
The University has worked with Public Health England, the Local Outbreak Control Team and senior university leaders, to develop an outbreak response plan which details the actions to be taken should staff or students report they are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID19.
This plan includes the reporting process, self-isolation guidelines and escalation procedures. All reported cases are monitored and actioned by an incident management team. Staff and student briefings are taking place regarding the new procedures and how buildings across campuses have been made COVID-secure.
Part of this plan ensures that students isolate effectively on- and off-campus through the provision of support packages, which include meals delivered to students’ doors in halls of residence, and the provision of essential items, guidance and support for those living in private accommodation in the wider community.
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