Following the lifting of the UK Government's 'Plan B' measures in the latter half of January 2022, these are our plans for operating during Semester 2. The second Semester starts on 7 February 2022. Of course, we will continue to keep both any new guidance and the public health situation under review throughout the academic year in case we need to make changes:
- Education: guidance to the Higher Education sector remains clear that universities should continue with in-person teaching. Therefore, we will be approaching Semester Two using the same model for teaching as Semester One. Our timetabled in-person teaching, including labs and practicals, should be delivered as planned.
- Research: researchers can continue in-person activity, with staff and students able to access specialist equipment and laboratories in the usual way. Face coverings should be worn if the risk assessment requires it. International fieldwork can continue subject to appropriate risk assessments, and escalation to the International Travel Group if the destination country has a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advisory against travel.
- Working arrangements: working from home restrictions have been lifted, so those departments who moved to remote working under Plan B should now review rotas and risk assessments ready for a return in Semester 2 to the previous approach to working patterns set out for 2021/22, with on-campus presence for all staff from February onwards.
- Meetings: in-person meetings can resume, please follow the room capacity guidance and ensure adequate ventilation.
- Events: University-organised events, including those held in our buildings or on campus, should continue to be informed by a risk assessment.
Health and safety measures
It is of the utmost importance that we all follow health and safety measures to protect ourselves and one another:
- Wellbeing: physical safety mitigations against Covid are vital. However, as the pandemic continues, it’s going to be more important than ever to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your line manager, HR advisor, Employee Assistance Programme, Chaplaincy, trade union rep, Wellbeing Champion or whoever you feel most comfortable talking to if you need support. There are also a number of staff wellbeing resources that you may find helpful.
- Face coverings: we will keep this under review, but in order to provide the safest possible environment for staff and students, and in light of the relatively high local case rates, we are continuing the approach we took in Semester 1 and strongly recommending students and staff to wear face coverings indoors and when moving around University buildings. Face coverings should be worn in study spaces including the Library, in addition to teaching spaces and all other indoor spaces when moving around, unless an exemption applies. Reusable face coverings will be available in teaching spaces and the Library.
- Testing: On Monday 21 February, the UK Government removed guidance for staff and students in education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing. We await further information about whether universities will be authorised to distribute remaining stocks of LFT tests. We understand that it is still possible to order rapid tests online, although the government will end free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public at the start of April 2022.
- Coronavirus symptoms: if you have coronavirus symptoms, or have to self-isolate, you must not come to campus, to University buildings or events. Please follow the guidance for colleagues online. If you have symptoms, find out how to get a free NHS PCR test to check if you have coronavirus. If you are a line manager and your staff member has reported symptoms or a positive test to you, please follow the guidance for line managers online.
- Vaccinations: getting fully vaccinated gives you the best protection against coronavirus (Covid-19). We encourage all members of our staff and student community to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, in line with World Health Organisation and UK Government advice.
- Follow your local risk assessments: please follow your local risk assessments, including on ventilation, room capacities, avoiding close face-to-face working wherever possible, wiping down surfaces, and hand hygiene.