Government announcement on student returns – what this means for staff

April 14th, 2021

Professor Andy Long recently wrote to staff to outline what the latest Government announcement on student returns means for them.

Dear colleagues,

Last night the Department for Education updated guidance for university students, on ‘non-practical’ courses that do not yet have a date for the resumption of face-to-face teaching.

It confirmed that there would be no further return until at least 17 May 2021. This was not the news we were hoping for and I wanted to set out as much detail as possible for you about the weeks ahead.

I have also written to all students today and you can read a copy of this communication here.

In-person teaching

Students who are on courses that have already resumed in-person teaching, either in January such as Medicine and Education, or those with practical elements which require specialist equipment that returned in March, or have return dates confirmed for April, are permitted to continue with their current arrangements. Students on practical courses with return dates in April will receive confirmation emails from their School or Department.

All remaining students will resume in-person teaching no earlier than Monday 17 May 2021. Professor Sarah Speight, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, will write to Heads of Schools and Departments with advice on contacting their students to confirm the detailed arrangements for their return, prior to this date.

I fully understand that the wait to resume in-person teaching is frustrating. In the meantime we will continue to do everything we can to keep our students engaged with their studies and with the university.

Government advice remains that students should stay where they are currently until shortly before resuming in-person studies, unless they meet the exceptional circumstances listed in Department for Education guidance. This includes where students are unable to study from home, need to sit in-person exams, do not have alternative accommodation, or for mental or physical health reasons.

Staff and Postgraduate Research access to campus

The university remains open and there is no change to the advice for staff and postgraduate researchers who need to attend campus, for example to deliver or prepare in-person teaching, to support students, provide other campus services or undertake research.

As outlined in my message last month we will support a safe, gradual expansion of the number of staff working in Covid-secure environments over the coming weeks and months. This work is unaltered by the latest announcement.

Covid-19 testing

Returning students are asked to book a Covid-19 test from the University Testing Service here to confirm that they are not carrying the virus so that we can keep our community and those around us safe. Thereafter, we expect all students to take our asymptomatic Covid-19 test at least once a week.

The University will continue to offer all staff asymptomatic Covid-19 testing on demand and we expect those staff working on campus to take these tests each week. These measures will help identify and isolate any positive cases early and help to reduce onward transmission of the virus. Staff do not need to book tests and can take these during work time.

Mental health and welfare

Please do continue to support your physical and mental wellbeing during these challenging times. If you need any sort of support or advice, please do ask for help from your line manager in the first instance and they can direct you to more specialist services if required.

A dedicated set of activities and services to support staff mental health and wellbeing, ranging from self-help, counselling and mental health services to the free and confidential employee assistance programme are listed at staff wellbeing.

Additional measures

We have taken significant steps to provide a Covid-secure environment on our campuses and the wellbeing of our community remains our priority.

Please remember to Isolate, Notify, Test if you do start to experience Covid-19 symptoms and let the University know so that we can support you. Within our university we have had no active cases of Covid-19 for the last 10 days. Our measures are most effective when we work together and follow the rules to keep everyone safe.

Thank you for your continued hard work and patience and I look forward to seeing more of us on campus more often in the months ahead.

Best wishes,


Professor Andy Long, FREng
Provost & Deputy Vice-Chancellor
University of Nottingham

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