Last night the Government announced additional guidance taking effect across the country to help slow the spread of the new omicron Coronavirus variant. We have also subsequently received more specific information for Universities from the Department for Education on what this means for teaching for the rest of the year. In brief the guidance is that ‘providers should continue to deliver face-to-face teaching and staff can continue to attend work as necessary to deliver this. For other staff, there is a recommendation to work from home if possible’.
In line with both of these updates, with the exception of staff involved in the delivery and support of teaching and direct student services, everyone who can do so should return to working from home from Monday 13 December until further notice. As per the specific university guidance, all timetabled face-to-face teaching will continue until the end of term, with staff working from home outside of any in-person sessions. Essential campus support services such as security or mental health support will also continue in person under local team agreements.
Christmas parties and on-campus activities
Any non-essential on-campus meetings or gatherings should also be avoided where possible – many of these have already moved online or been postponed so do consider what is best based on what you have due to take place. I also appreciate that many of you will have planned off-site Christmas meet-ups before the end of term; bars and restaurants remain open as before so there is no need to cancel these, but again I’d ask you to consider what the best format is and how you can make these as safe as possible.
I know this will be disappointing news and that lots of us have enjoyed returning to campus in recent months. This will also be a worrying time for many, particularly those who have a continued need to be on campus. I can only thank you for your continued assistance in supporting the national effort to keep each other safe and avoid further Covid restrictions in the future – as ever, the safety of our students, staff and wider community is our number one priority throughout.
While cases regionally have been rising, those linked to the University remain low thanks to a combined effort across our community. We also have a number of additional health and safety measures in place.
Everyone on campus is now expected to wear face coverings in all teaching spaces and communal areas, unless they have a medical exemption. Face coverings should also be worn in shared offices and other indoor spaces where social distancing can not be maintained. These are available free of charge from any student reception desk.
Testing and Vaccines
Regular testing remains key to keeping everyone safe, and those still coming onto campus should continue to take a Covid lateral flow test at least twice a week and report your results to the NHS online. You can get walk-in tests or pick up take-home kits from the Old Bank on our Canterbury campus or the Old Sports Hall at Medway, or order them online. If you have symptoms or if you do test positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started and get a PCR test as quickly as possible. Positive tests should also be reported to the University by letting your line manager know and via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vaccinations remain a critical part of stopping the spread of the virus – everyone who qualifies for a booster jab is strongly encouraged to get one if they can.
I know the continued impact of Covid-19 has made this a difficult year for all of us and that these additional changes late in the year will be disruptive – however, taking these additional steps should help all of us make the most the festive period and hopefully support wider efforts to return to normality as quickly as possible.
The measures are due to be reviewed on Wednesday 5 January, so I will update again on where things stand after the Christmas break.
With all best wishes,
Professor Richard Reece | DVC Education & Student Experience