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New national restrictions – message from Professor Andy Long

November 3rd, 2020

As the Government announces a second national lockdown, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chanellor Professor Andy Long writes to all staff and students.

Dear colleagues and students,

Last night the Government announced a full national lockdown would come into force in England from Thursday November 5 following a continuing rise in COVID-19 rates across the country.

In his speech Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasised the importance of education and that the government would prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of students by keeping schools and universities open.

We are awaiting further details as to how new restrictions affect our activities, but in the meantime current teaching, research and working patterns continue.

The new restrictions offer further guidance on travel for students living at university either in shared halls or off campus. The guidance states that students must not move back and forth between their permanent home and student home during term time. They should only return home at the end of term.

In Nottingham we have a working group putting a plan in place that will make use of our Asymptomatic Testing Service and to allow for the safe movement of students who wish to travel home for the Christmas break and back again in January. This may include things such as the option for students to be tested before they go home and/or a temporary phased approach to online learning leading up to the break or at the beginning of the next year. As soon as these plans are fully developed, we will be sharing them with staff and students.

In addition to courses that require blended learning as part of a professional qualification i.e. nursing or teaching, we firmly believe that face-to-face learning brings significant value to a cohort of young people who have faced numerous barriers to their learning this year.

We have been pleased to see broad feedback across our student community about the positive impact face-to-face contact is having on their mental health and wellbeing. The provision of COVID-secure face-to-face activities, libraries, essential support services, study spaces and sporting activities is providing a fuller educational experience for students. Even with additional restrictions in place, we know being at university is playing a significant role in preventing isolation, loneliness and depression.

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

Within our University the number of active cases of COVID-19 continues to fall and are now at very low numbers. While this may show our COVID-19 security measures are working, there is no room for complacency, and we need to work together and follow the rules to keep everyone safe.

We will write to you again early next week with more details as soon as we have them.

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

Following the government’s announcement of this new national lockdown, Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, has written to all Vice Chancellors and students to reiterate its key points and confirm that new guidance for universities will be published shortly.

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