Category Archives: Staff Covid

Covid-19 update – 24 November 2021

With more of us working on campus at least part of the time, it is essential that we all continue to keep safety at the front of our minds.   

 Key to ensuring everyone stays safe is regular testing and reporting of results.  

Everyone coming onto campus should continue to take a Covid lateral flow test twice a week. 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.   

Reporting is also critical to supporting the national effort to counter Covid. If you are using a home test kit, please remember to report your lateral flow test results to the NHS, using the postcode CT2 7FS, whether they are positive or negative – instructions on how to do this should come with the testing kit itself.    

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. If your PCR test is positive, please let your line manager know and also email covidsupport@kent.ac.uk.   

If someone in your household tests positive, and even if your own test is negative, you are encouraged to work at home if you can during the self-isolation period. If your role is not normally one that works remotely, please talk to your line manager about any work you can do from home. If there is no work you can do remotely, please remain away from work for the duration of the isolation period (if you are living with someone with Covid-19) or until you have had a negative PCR test (for a close contact)  

Other ways we can do our bit to stay  safe are:  

Vaccinations – A key component in national efforts against Covid. If you qualify for a booster jab,  you are strongly encouraged to get one if you can.   

Face coverings – We strongly encourage and recommend that staff and students wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, particularly if meeting people from outside their area. Face coverings are available free of charge from any student reception desk.  

Ventilation – We are monitoring buildings and rooms across campus to ensure they meet Government guidelines on airflow. Keeping a window open supports this and our ‘virtual first’ approach to staff meetings also helps reduce the number of gatherings. If you wish to double-check airflow levels in your area, get in touch with Estates Customer Services to borrow a CO2 monitor.  

Following checks by our Estates team, some of our teaching spaces have reduced capacity. If you’re teaching in these rooms, you’ll need to follow ‘user instructions’ on ventilation. You can find out which rooms this applies to, and check on any changes ahead of your class, on the live teaching room spreadsheet on our Estates webpages. Useful guidance on ventilation is also available from our SHE team. 

Great Team Award winners – Staff supporting students on campus during Covid

Winners of our Great Team award are staff who supported our students on campus during Covid. Team members include: Lucy Foley, Director of Student Services; Jacqui Double, Head of Colleges and Community Life (Student Services); Laura Maclean, Head of Accommodation and Customer Services; Louisa Harvey, Senior Events Coordinator; Caroline Hames, Event Services Coordinator; Rachel Walmesley, Events Coordinator; Jan Williams, Events Coordinator; Alison Polden, Events Coordinator; and Sarah Tooze, Reception Services Coordinator (all from Kent Hospitality). Their nomination notes that staff from Student Services and members of the Isolation Team worked outside of their normal working hours, regularly working evening and weekend shifts on a rota basis, to ensure that students received all the support that they needed throughout the pandemic. On receiving the award, team member Jacqui Double said: ‘It’s recognition that it takes a big team of people to come together to make things happen for students – particularly to keep changing things as regulations change. It also shows that flexibility and kindness, as emphasised by Karen (Cox) in her welcome this evening, has been shown by the whole team.’ Award nomination The award nomination outlines the team’s support for international students, including daily support and guidance on travel restrictions, as well as booking accommodation for quarantining students and co-ordinating the delivery of daily food packages in conjunction with the catering team. For students who needed to self-isolate, the team provided invaluable support, co-ordinating the delivery of care packs, giving vital information, support and advice. They also co-ordinated student helpers – or when unavailable went themselves – to help with deliveries to isolating students such as medication, toothpaste, food deliveries and more. The nomination notes: ‘This outstanding compassion and support for our students has made a huge difference to our isolating students.’  And students were also appreciative: “The self-isolation team was great with the care packages and checking in, I cannot fault them.” During the University Winter and Spring Bank Holiday closure, a high number of students on campus were unable to return home – and the Isolation Team stepped in again working every day (except Christmas Day) to ensure students remaining on campus were supported. ‘This represented a huge sacrifice for both the team and their families who had been expecting to spend uninterrupted time together after what had been an incredibly challenging period.’ As restrictions eased in Spring 2021, the number of students self-isolating increased. Numbers peaked during Kent Summer Fest, with a record number of students needing to self-isolate ahead of their anticipated departure date causing ‘an extraordinary amount of work’. The Isolation Team were also on hand to support our Accommodation Office with administering two rent rebates in the Spring – ‘a colossal effort and, again, far outside the team’s normal remit.’ The nomination ends: ‘All of this was done in addition to the team’s usual work and represents an outstanding and sustained contribution to the University with far reaching impacts for our students and their families.’ Picture shows: Jacqui Double, Rachel Walmesley, Alison Polden, Louisa Harvey, Jan Williams and Caroline Hames.

Covid-19: Working together to keep each other safe

From Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Education and Student Experience As I am sure you are aware, recent weeks have seen a national rise in the number of Covid cases in the UK. While we do not currently have any major concerns locally, this is an important reminder to all of us that, unfortunately, Covid has not gone away and we all need to continue to keep safety at the front of our minds, especially while on our campuses.

Face coverings and ventilation

We strongly encourage and recommend that people wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces. Wearing a face covering can help keep each other safe, particularly in teaching and study spaces or while standing in queues. Face coverings are available free of charge at all student reception desks. Being outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces also helps reduce transmission. All of our rooms on campus have been assessed and adapted where necessary to meet Government ventilation guidelines. Keeping a window open helps support this – we should also all keep to a ‘virtual first’ approach to staff meetings to reduce the number of gatherings. Testing, reporting and vaccinations Everyone coming onto campus should continue to take a Covid lateral flow test twice a week. 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. Reporting is also critical to supporting the national effort to counter Covid. Please remember to report your LFT test results to the NHS whether they are positive or negative – instructions on how to do this should come with the testing kit itself. 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. If your PCR test is positive, please let your line manager know and also email covidsupport@kent.ac.uk Lastly, vaccinations are also a key part of supporting national efforts against Covid, so if you qualify for a booster jab then you are strongly encouraged to get one if you can.

Keeping going

The start of term was a significant adjustment for all of us with the return of students and large number of staff to campus. I have been hugely impressed by the way all of us have responded and am pleased that to date we have managed to work together to keep infections low so far. All of us have a part to play in continuing to keep our campuses safely open – by being careful in crowded indoor spaces, taking regular tests and getting vaccinated if you can. I am also writing to students this week to remind them of what we all need to do to keep each other safe and will provide a further update if there any Government announcements that affect our response in the coming weeks. Richard Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Education and Student Experience