Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog: Considerations for returning to campus

September 9th, 2020

In this week’s Recovery blog Deputy Vice-Chancellor Andy Long talks about changes to the University estate and offers a reminder on a number of different policies that have been introduced over the past few months aimed at keeping staff and students safe.

We are now just weeks away from the start of the new academic year and I am aware that many of you will be thinking about your return to campus, especially following the Vice-Chancellor’s blog last week.

Understandably, having been away for so long, the perception of risks associated with the prospect of returning to campus, the return of the student population and the start of teaching is a source of anxiety to some colleagues.

A Return to Campus familiarisation toolkit has been created to help ease concerns and enable staff to see safety measures prior to starting work. This includes previews of signage, videos of reopened buildings with health and safety measures in place, risk assessments, training and information on refamiliarisation tours.

For many months our campuses have been eerily quiet with the only occupants, aside from the geese and squirrels (and a rogue deer), being those working to maintain critical operations and services or carrying out essential research. Those critical works include the physical preparations needed to prepare our University to resume teaching and research safely.

As well as some of the measures outlined in the toolkit above, such as new signage, one way systems, hand washing stations and screens, you will also see some bigger physical changes to the estate.

This includes some changes to our road networks, enabling us to maintain social distancing in the busiest of spaces.

We will also be installing a number temporary hubs across University Park, Jubilee Campus, Sutton Bonington and Derby Medical School. These hubs will enable us to increase the amount of undercover space we have and give students a place to go in between face-to-face learning and on-campus activities. We are also repurposing some offices, where staff fall into the third phase of the Return to Campus plans, to increase available study spaces.

Good ventilation has been central to our building reopening and across the University we have increased ventilation rates in our buildings and isolated a number of systems to reduce the risk of COVID transmission.

At the same time, we will be keeping more windows open to help maintain fresh air flowing through the buildings. Our estates team will be increasing the heat to a number of buildings to allow for this but there may be times when you find some spaces cooler than normal.

Places to shop and eat on campus will also look a little different, with a number of catering facilities undergoing a phased reopening in line with Return to Campus plans, and some changes to processes around delivered catering to ensure that our health and safety measures are consistent.

As referred to in the Vice-Chancellor’s blog we will all need to get used to new ways of working. An example of this is how our Student Services arrangements will work, particularly during the busy Welcome period.

Though students will be able to get one-to-one support through a variety of means, including pre-booked appointments, the usual ‘walk-in’ service will not be available because of the implications of demand on social distancing measures.

To help colleagues across the university support students with general queries, an online resource detailing the most common requests dealt with by Student Services is now available and you can find out more about this provision here.

Finally we will all need to have a preparedness for members of our university community exhibiting symptoms or becoming ill with COVID-19. I will be sharing more details of our outbreak response plans and the expectations from all staff and students before the start of term.

Before I end this blog I wanted to draw your attention to a number of policies and procedures we have developed as a Recovery Board during the pandemic. The key policies are listed below but please do review the full set on the Recovery Sharepoint pages. I hope this serves as a reminder of new guidance that we all need to be aware of as well as being a record of information you can use to support colleagues. Please do read this and share where appropriate ahead of the start of the academic year. The pages also link to our Decision Record which outlines the approaches we’ve taken on topics such as returning our Vet School students early, extending teaching hours and holding online open days and events.

Best wishes
Professor Andy Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Health and Safety

Education and Student Experience

Processes to enable working from home or teaching preparation

​​​​​​​ Estates

HR and People

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