Keeping our community safe when returning to campus: update from Professor Andy Long


January 5th, 2022

Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Long has written to all colleagues and students today to provide an update on what to expect if/when returning to campus.

Dear colleagues

May I wish you a very happy new year, I hope that you enjoyed a restful and festive break and are looking forward to the new term at Nottingham.

The Department for Education (DfE) has this week issued a brief update to its guidance to higher education providers on measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19 in the UK.

The DfE update amounts to mandating the use of face coverings in all communal indoor spaces, a requirement that the university introduced in November. I am therefore writing to remind you of this and the full range of campus safety measures which apply to our university community as we head towards the new term.

Working on campus or from home

Guidance published by the Department for Education continues to expect education settings to remain open for in-person teaching. Colleagues who need to be on campus to enable this should continue to work on campus whenever necessary. This includes staff engaged in in-person teaching and those working in libraries, student services, hospitality, retail and domestic services, for example.

Our established campus safety guidelines have kept Covid-19 transmission rates low. Face coverings are required in all communal indoor spaces. Full vaccination and weekly Covid testing are also strongly encouraged.

Colleagues who are able to fulfil the requirements of their role at home should continue to work from home. Professional services hubs will remain open for those staff who would find it more effective for their work or wellbeing to work on campus.

Research

Where research needs to be conducted on campus it should continue and all research facilities and laboratories will remain open to support this. Staff and students conducting research on campus should follow all Covid safety measures including the wearing of masks and weekly testing.

Research students and their supervisors should decide whether research activity needs to be conducted on campus, or can be continued at home. On-campus research facilities remain open for research students.

Teaching

Guidance published by the Department for Education states that in-person teaching and student support services should continue. The university’s plans to commence full in-person teaching in January remain unchanged. We will keep these under review and update colleagues as soon as possible after the point the government reviews the national ‘Plan B’ restrictions, currently expected to be Wednesday 26 January.

Face coverings

Face coverings are to be worn in all indoor spaces, unless exempt, and this includes: corridors and communal spaces; teaching settings, including lecture halls, seminar rooms, laboratories and workshops; libraries and shared offices. Face coverings have been mandatory on campus since November last year, and posters encouraging staff, students and visitors to wear them remain valid.

Visit the government website for more information on face coverings, including a full list of places where they must be worn.

Covid testing and vaccinations

Staff and students should continue to test for Covid-19 at least weekly, using the university’s unique asymptomatic testing service which has now reopened for the new year. The test is quick, simple and identifies infection at the earliest possible stage so that you can avoid transmitting illness to others. The service is unaffected by the national supply problems currently affecting the availability of LFT devices and PCR testing.

Communications to students are strongly encouraging them to take a Covid-19 test before returning to campus over the coming weeks. Please do repeat this message in any Faculty, School or programme-level messages you have planned.

Please ensure you take up full vaccination and register for your booster vaccination when you are called by the NHS.

If you do develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19, please complete our reporting form. This information is essential to help us track infections and manage potential outbreaks.

Students travelling to the UK

Students travelling to the UK will need to check and comply with border measures that have been introduced to help prevent transmission of Covid-19 on their arrival on campus.

For more detail on requirements for students travelling to the UK, please refer to the government travel advice and quarantine information. Make sure they check restrictions again before travel to ensure they have the latest requirements.

NHS Covid Pass

Larger-scale entertainment venues and events with a capacity of 500 or more are now required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative Covid test within the last 48 hours, or are exempt.

This does not apply to smaller-scale settings such as pubs, bars or restaurants and as such will not apply to on-campus venues. However, face coverings remain mandatory in all indoor spaces, and weekly Covid testing and vaccination is strongly encouraged.

Visit the government website for more details on where Covid Passes are required, and how to access yours.

Please continue to follow our on-campus guidelines and act cautiously and considerately to help us keep our campus and community as safe as possible. Rising case numbers are to be expected as our data reflects national trends. However, we are confident that the measures we have in place on campus will help to keep transmission as low as possible.

We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and keep our policies under review. I will update you with any changes or updates to national or local guidance over the coming weeks.

Best wishes

Andy Long

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