Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog: Returning safely to campus

August 25th, 2020

As some of our students start to return to Nottingham ahead of the new academic year I thought I would update you on some of the measures we are taking with partners to protect the safety and security both our University and the wider Nottingham community.

Firstly please take the time to revisit our Welcome webpages which set out further guidance for new and returning students on how measures we are taking around the Coronavirus will affect them- this includes everything from living in halls to moving into the City, socialising and teaching.

We have also been working alongside Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Nottinghamshire Police and others, to consider how the return of our students will have an impact in a range of areas such as the local businesses, transport, and community cohesion. This is in addition to the Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement which commits a number of organisations across the city to work with us to ensure the safe and secure return of students.

While recognising the positive economic, cultural and societal benefits our students bring, there are also, understandably, concerns about how changes brought about because of the pandemic will affect daily life both at the university and beyond.

The health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students and the wider community remains our overriding priority. Our current focus is upon adapting our campus and our practices for an extended period of COVID-affected working.

You will be increasingly familiar with health and safety measures in shops and other businesses, for example the one-way systems, social distancing markers and hand sanitising stations. These, and other measures, will be features of our campus environment too. You can find more detail on these health and safety measures, as well as a video demonstrating their implementation, on our Recovery webpages.

We have also been very clear with students around the behaviours we expect from them. All students will be asked to commit to a COVID-19 Community Pledge – six clear expectations around following guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19, showing mutual respect, and being inclusive and supportive of others.

The student Code of Discipline has been extended to encompass public health protection issues and this Pledge. Disciplinary measures are already in place for serious breaches on an escalation basis. The pledge includes details of a dedicated email address where anyone can lodge a concern about the behaviour of others but feels unable to raise this with them directly.

The University is actively exploring extending and enhancing its investment in community protection to meet the challenges students and communities face due to the pandemic.

We will be launching a digital campaign in September to remind students of these expectations and the COVID-19 Community Pledge.

You’ll have seen reference to the pledge in Professor Sarah Speight’s blog on Guiding Principles for Teaching in 2020-21 published last week and I hope that goes some way in reassuring staff who may be anxious about students returning to campus.

I also shared details some weeks ago about our plans to mitigate future outbreaks and our collaboration with Public Health England and Local Public Health officials to establish a Local Outbreak Plan.

A dedicated Incident Management Plan Task & Finish group for Higher Education has been established and scenario preparation exercises are being run in conjunction with local healthcare organisations.

Plans to provide support for students in the community who need to isolate are being developed and the University’s pilot testing of returned Vet School students is well underway.

We are now in phase eight of our building reopening schedule, checking and reopening close to 100 buildings across our campuses. The effort that has gone into getting to this point in our recovery cannot be underestimated and I know, for many, the next month will be equally as busy in readiness for the new academic year.

Next week we will be sharing more information on our long term plans to return other areas of the university to campus. This will be followed up with briefings from members of University Executive Board in coming weeks.

As ever I’ve grateful for all your hard work, patience and professionalism.

Professor Andy Long
Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

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