July 21st, 2020
Face coverings have been receiving a lot of attention in the media lately, especially with the changes to national guidance on use in shops being introduced from Friday.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the University’s Expert Advisory Group and the Recovery Board have had discussions about face coverings and we have agreed that from Monday 27 July we will be making them compulsory inside buildings on campus. There will be a number of exceptions for things such as small office spaces, for eating and for those with medical conditions. The policy on this will be available on the Health and Safety CV-19 Recovery webpages [Workspace login required] pages on Friday.
Handwashing and social distancing remain the most effective ways of reducing the spread of the virus but I hope this step offers further reassurance about the decisions we are taking and the measures we are introducing to enable all of our staff and students to return to work safely.
With that in mind I would also draw your attention to Extraordinary is what you make it, new webpages for students which set out our safety measures and what they can expect from their university experience in the autumn.
Clearly, things will be very different this year and we will add as much information as possible over the summer to help students understand how these changes will affect them, allay any anxieties, inspire and enthuse them and give them the tools to make the very best of what our University has to offer.
I would encourage you all to have a look at the pages to get a sense of the work that has gone into making our campus safe for September as well as an understanding of what will be different.
This Friday we will be celebrating the virtual graduation of 10,000 of our students in a 24 hour festival. A Graduation without Borders, will see global alumni and well-known Nottingham faces share messages of support and congratulations to our students as they mark the end of their studies with us.
Watching the videos for both these projects I certainly feel a sense of gratitude, as well as pride, about everything that has been achieved in these testing times.
I know that Schools have been working hard to communicate programme-level details on how they will teach different courses and modules from the autumn – this will be helpful for our students and is also a requirement of the Office for Students.
We are developing the timetable to support teaching in socially-distanced environments while trying to limit any changes to the traditional pattern of working hours. One of the measures we are looking at is around reducing seminars and workshops to 40 minutes to allow for plenty of time for cleaning and safe movement of people.
While we continue to ask staff to work from home, unless advised otherwise, we have now confirmed arrangements for staff who need to return to campus to access specialist equipment in order to prepare for teaching in the new academic year.
A Stay and Do process has been developed to facilitate this, so that staff can work in bookable rooms in buildings on campus that have been approved for opening. This process can be used in conjunction with the existing Grab and Go process, so that colleagues can retrieve materials from their offices and use them for teaching preparation in centrally bookable rooms.
Please note that we are not yet in a position to allow staff to work in their own offices in buildings that remain formally closed. The Stay and Do process provides an opportunity for us to allow staff who need to come on to campus to work to do so, safely and in a controlled manner, and using buildings and facilities that have been formally checked and approved for opening.
On that note I am really pleased that we now have 44 buildings and research facilities open. The latest of these include Hallward Library and Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, at University Park, and the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry, at Jubilee Campus.
There are a great many factors affecting a building reopening, including the numbers of people working inside and using the services within it. There is a lengthy list of health and safety checks above and beyond those the precautionary protocols for COVID, including flushing for legionella, electrical checks, and checks for fire alarms and ventilation, and many other things besides.
It is imperative that we follow the process that is set out and we do not see people coming back on to campus before it has been agreed. Attempting to access buildings that aren’t open adds extra pressure on these services and compromises the safety of all involved.
For those who are preparing to return to campus to work, in the short or medium term, some core principles have been developed to help this transition. Every team will have different needs and these principles act as a guide, encouraging us all to continue to work as flexibly and with as much agility as we have all done since March, while also setting out some expectations.
When we talk about recovery it suggests we will revert to a former way of working but there are a lot of positive changes that we should seek to retain. The coronavirus is not going to go away in the near future but we have to adapt to new ways of working.
Once again I must thank all of those involved with our return to operations – we have achieved so much in a short space of time. While the tasks ahead of us continue to be complex I am confident that, with all of your support, we will continue to rise to the challenges.
Professor Andy Long
Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor
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