[05.01.2021 Please see latest update following the announcement of a third national lockdown which supersedes the 31 December update.]
From Alison Ross-Green, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.
I hope you have had an enjoyable and restful winter vacation.
You will be aware that the Government announced yesterday a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in England as result of the rising infection rates.
As part of these restrictions, the Government has requested that universities delay the return of the majority of students to campus after the winter vacation. The Government has stressed that university campuses are regarded as COVID-safe and this is simply an effort to reduce the number of people traveling across the country at this time.
This means that we have asked students not return to campus or to their term time address for the start of term unless they are studying medicine or social work or fall under the following exemptions including
- being an international student who is unable to make reasonable adjustments to their travel arrangements
- not having access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their current location
- requiring additional support, including mental health support
- being on a placement where the provider is permitted to open under the current restrictions
- being a postgraduate student and requiring specialist facilities for their work
You can read the email we are sending to students online.
The start of term remains 18 January 2021, and we have been asked by the Government to ensure that all teaching is online for the first few weeks. Students have been told that they are expected to attend all timetabled sessions.
While the latest position replaces previous plans for a staggered return to campus, I hope that the preparations that have already been made to move teaching online for the start of term will mean that we can comply with the Government’s recommendations without increasing workloads.
We have been informed that the return to campus will be paused at least until the week commencing 25 January. The Government will review this decision in the week commencing 18 January. We will update you shortly after.
We will continue to offer asymptomatic COVID testing for staff and those students who have to return to their term time address. Please be assured that there will be sufficient booking slots available for all those who need them once we are all back on campus.
University staff who are needed on campus to provide essential services continue to be regarded as essential workers and can travel to and from work. Please ensure you carry University ID (such as your Kent One card) on your commute. If you are working on campus, we strongly recommend that you book an asymptomatic COVID test on campus if you have not already done so,
I also wanted to flag that we are aware that that some staff will be impacted by the delayed reopening of schools in Kent. I would like to reassure you that the University has measures in place to support staff during times such as this and to ensure that your pay is protected as far as possible if you are unable to work due to the impact of COVID. If you are affected, please liaise with your line manager as soon as possible.
We will continue to keep in touch with staff and students over the next few weeks as we develop our plans in response to this latest change and will update the staff coronavirus webpages with new information as it becomes available.
My best wishes to you and your family.
Alison Ross-Green | Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development