The UK Government has announced a new period of national lockdown in England, which carries a number of implications for how the University will operate in the coming weeks:
What the new lockdown rules mean for students
- The new Government rules mean that students should now remain where they are wherever possible, whether that is here in Bath or elsewhere, except in a very few cases. These exceptions currently include MPharm students starting in person learning in January or February and those PGR students who need to access University facilities to do their work.
- The rules state that, during term time, you should not move back and forth between your home here in Bath and other locations, for example if you have a home elsewhere with family members.
- The rules also mean that we will need to start most other courses online. We have been told to expect this to last until at least mid-February. However, it may be that this is not the case for those courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and/or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled. We are seeking more clarification on what decisions will be made on such courses. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student, you will be hearing more from your department about what this will mean for you in Semester 2 in the coming weeks.
- If you are a PGR student, you can only leave home for work purposes “where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home”. However, research activities that cannot reasonably be undertaken at home can take place on campus. If you can work from home you should do so wherever possible.
- We will be doing our utmost to ensure our PGR students have access to the laboratories and specialist equipment they need.
- We recognise that the decision by Government will cause additional financial problems for some. The Government has asked us to highlight that additional hardship funding has been made available which can be used for those suffering loss of income or additional costs as a result of these decisions. The University will also be seeking clarification on the financial implications of this decision on students as quickly as possible.
What the new lockdown rules mean for staff
- You can only leave home for work purposes “where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home”.
- Universities are still able to operate essential activities.
- Our understanding, based on the guidance we have received from the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) this morning, based on advice from the Department for Education, is that Higher Education staff will be classified as critical/key workers.
- Frontline operational staff in Ahs, including Security, and Estates, and relevant technical staff will continue to be needed to ensure our students are supported and our campus and buildings are operational, safe and secure. In terms of catering and hospitality, takeaway and click-and-collect services are still permitted.
- Research activities that cannot reasonably be undertaken at home can take place on campus.
- The lockdown means that most in-person teaching will not resume until at least mid-February. The Government rules stipulate that students who do not study specified courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online. In our case the only specified courses confirmed so far are for the MPharm students in Pharmacy & Pharmacology. We have been told to expect this to last until at least mid-February, though it may be that this is not the case for those courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and/or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled. We are seeking more clarification on what decisions will be made on such courses. We will be working alongside Departments to design the best possible start to Semester 2.
- If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should not attend work and limit the time you spend outside the home.
- As primary and secondary schools are now largely closed, we are encouraging line managers to allow additional flexibility around hours, to support those with caring responsibilities. Whether you are working on campus or remotely, the advice we have received from the Department for Education is that you are classified as a key worker, and as such your children should be able to attend primary and secondary schools, though we will be monitoring how this is implemented over the coming weeks. We will be issuing guidance in the next 24 hours to Heads of Department about how we will be supporting those who are unable to fulfil their work duties because of their caring responsibilities.
Facilities open on campus and virtually
- The Library will remain open to provide access to IT and digital services, for example for students who do not have access at home, in line with Government rules. We will also enable Covid-secure access to Wifi and some study spaces in the Virgil Building and Lewis House so students do not have to travel to campus for IT access if they live in town.
- Our Student Services are open, including the helpdesk, Wellbeing Service and mental health services, to continue their vital work. Our free, 24/7 ‘Be Well – Talk Now’ Service is available via phone or live chat, wherever you are based.
- For students and staff who are here in Bath, our frontline operational teams in Ahs, including Security, and Estates will continue to ensure you are well supported and our campus and buildings are operational, safe and secure.
- Unfortunately, our indoor and outdoor sports facilities will need to close temporarily. Lockdown rules mean that you can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble.
- In terms of catering and hospitality, takeaway and click-and-collect services are still permitted and our Fresh shop will remain open.
Covid cases and testing
The University will continue to take part in the Government’s programme of asymptomatic lateral flow testing. Students and staff are able to use the testing facilities at The Edge building on campus from Monday 4 January until at least Friday 5 February 2021, subject to Government review.
The lockdown rules allow you to leave home for a medical reason, including to get a Covid-19 test, but please remember to follow Covid-19 guidance at all times.
For those returning to Bath, please allow sufficient time on your return to take one test very soon after you arrive, and a second test three days later.
Safety and Covid-secure measures
All activity on campus and University buildings must be carried out in line with risk assessments and within the stringent Covid-secure measures we have in place. Please make sure you have read the latest advice on wearing face coverings, which must be followed at all times, along with social distancing and good hand hygiene.
Support available for students and staff
It’s only natural that changing our ways and living with restrictions can cause tension, frustration and anxiety. Working and studying virtually also has its challenges. Now more than ever, we need to talk. If you're a student, you can contact:
- your tutor or supervisor
- the Wellbeing Service
- our free, 24/7 ‘Be Well – Talk Now’ service
- the students' union (SU) Advice & Support Centre
- the Chaplaincy
- your Student Living Ambassador if you live in University accommodation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're a member of staff, you can: