How will the University be operating during the November 2020 lockdown?
The government has made it clear that universities, colleges, and schools should remain open during the latest lockdown. For University of Bath this means we will continue our blended approach of in-person and online learning, strictly following our Covid-secure rules on social distancing, wearing face-coverings, and operating enhanced ventilation and cleaning regimes. Our research laboratories will remain operational wherever possible, strictly observing Covid-secure measures and risk assessments. Student facing services and key operational staff will be playing their continued, critical role in supporting our students on campus and in University buildings, again stringently following our safety measures. In line with Government rules, our sports facilities will be closing for the duration of the lockdown. Colleagues not involved in key student-facing services, in-person teaching, research or essential campus operations, will work from home if they can do so effectively. We will continue to lay great emphasis on mental health support, for staff and for students.
How is the University responding to Covid-19?
At times like this, we understand that community is more important than ever. Students and staff have joined together to talk to organisations in Bath to find out how we can best use the expertise and resources we have to help.
These are just some of the ways in which our University community has responded during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- A team of 60 volunteers from the Faculty of Engineering & Design and across the University has made more than 100,000 face shields and other PPE for donation to Bath’s Royal United Hospital (RUH) and other local medical services including GP surgeries and pharmacies.
- In addition the University has provided city centre accommodation free-of-charge to RUH staff who have needed to stay near to work, or had to isolate from their families.
- Around 300 University of Bath students signed up to support 3SG – an independent charity working to support the wider charity, social enterprise, faith and voluntary sector in Bath and North East Somerset. The students responded to the charity’s call for volunteers to support ‘a compassionate response to Covid-19’.
- Throughout our scientists and researchers have also been working on understanding and tackling the pandemic and its effects. For example our physicists are working as part of a major research project to develop new lung disease diagnostics and treatments, using our world-leading expertise in fibre optics to develop endoscopes – which could have applications in other diseases too.
- Our psychologists have examined the toll lockdown has taken on our mental health, the effects of loneliness on children and young people, and how we feel about new sustainable habits as lockdown eases.
- Other work has begun to look at how to provide early warning of future Covid-19 outbreaks by monitoring wastewater, and researchers from The Milner Centre for Evolution have studied how the virus causing Covid-19 is evolving.
How will the University be operating from September onwards?
You can view our roadmap to reopening online.
In common with most UK universities, the University of Bath will be offering ‘blended learning’ to our students – a mix of online and in-person teaching and learning so that we can continue to offer high quality education in a Covid-secure way. Fully remote learning will be available for students who are unable to attend campus due to travel or health reasons, or if we need to respond to a change in Government alert levels.
We will be operating with a reduced number of people on campus at any one time, to make social distancing easier. Some staff will need to be on campus in order to carry out their roles, with others either working from home completely, or doing a mix of home and on-site working. We have also secured additional space in town to ease pressure on buildings and transport.
What health and safety measures is the University implementing?
The University has been carefully planning for the safe start of the 2020/21 academic year for the safety of staff, students and the wider community.
- We have put social distancing measures in place and repurposed our spaces on campus to allow for this.
- We will be operating with a reduced number of people on campus at any one time, and have staggered the start and end times of in-person teaching.
- We’re installing hand sanitiser stations at building entrances and exits.
- Cleaning regimes are being enhanced, particularly for frequently used rooms and spaces.
- We are making reusable face coverings available to staff and students who need them.
- Where possible we have implemented one-way systems and applied maximum occupancy restrictions in some areas.
- We have also secured additional space on campus and in town to ease pressure on buildings and transport.
- In addition, we are making 1,000 rooms available on campus for new students travelling from countries that require a period of self-isolation after arriving in the UK.
- We are developing a booking system for study spaces in University buildings so we can ensure the capacity is managed safely.
What steps are you taking to advise students about behaviour?
We will be issuing guidance to our community on steps we can all take to help keep ourselves and each other safe. This includes wearing face coverings, hand hygiene, social distancing and rules around self-isolation. Of course, our advice is informed by public health and UK government guidance.
We know that our students and staff feel lucky to count Bath as their home. It is a welcoming and beautiful city and we all want to carry on playing our part to be good neighbours and citizens.
We are reminding our students that some local residents may be vulnerable due to health conditions, they may have caring responsibilities or be working long hours as key workers. We ask that all members of our University community are respectful, patient and kind in their interactions with other local residents.
In this way, we can build a community of mutual respect as good neighbours and work together to help keep one another safe. We are also working with B&NES Council and our partners through the Student Community Partnership, including Bath Spa University, in order to plan a successful and safe welcome for students coming to university in September.
How are students being grouped in households?
In line with Government guidance on COVID-19, each student house or flat is treated as one household. This means that some groups will be a large household of 18 to 20 people.
Therefore if you see some larger groups of students together it will not necessarily be the case that they are breaching Covid-19 guidance.
If there is a problem that affects me as a local resident, how do I raise it with the University?
The Student Community Partnership includes partners from across the city and aims to help manage any issues which may arise related to university students living in the city of Bath. For more information contact the Student Community Partnership.
If the behaviour of a member of the University contravenes our policies then we will, of course, intervene. We have disciplinary measures available for any more serious cases but often find we can resolve issues before this is necessary.
How will public transport to and from campus be managed?
We’ve been working with the local council and First Bus to plan Covid-secure routes between campus, town and residential areas.
Buses are likely to be operating with reduced capacity, and wearing face coverings is mandatory, with limited exemptions. The bus drivers and marshals will be doing their best to keep people moving.
We will be operating with a reduced number of people on campus at any one time, and have staggered the start and end times of in-person teaching, which will help to reduce demand on transport services.
What will happen if there is one or more cases of Covid-19 at the University?
Like all members of the community in Bath, we will be following public health guidance and government rules, including on getting tested if anyone has symptoms and following self-isolation rules for members of a household.
The University has an Outbreak Management Plan which sets out our plans for dealing with one or more cases of Covid-19 amongst University our community.
How are you using the new spaces in Lewis House and in Dartmouth Avenue?
The University of Bath is commercially leasing two floors of Lewis House, currently used as office space, in Manvers Street for a 12-month period, from owner Bath & North East Somerset Council.
As part of our work to ensure Covid-secure spaces for staff and students, the University has been seeking additional space to allow for social distancing across its buildings in town and on campus. The space in Lewis House is intended for student study and educational use, in time for the new academic year in September 2020, subject to planning permission for a temporary change in use. We have also leased a site on Dartmouth Avenue in Oldfield Park, previously used by Bath Spa University. University and SU staff will be present and security will be monitoring site use and opening hours.
The Student Community Partnership (SCP) Community Liaison Co-ordinator and the two community wardens will be based at Dartmouth Avenue. They will work on positive “Welcome to Bath” initiatives, being a good neighbour and moving out campaigns, as well as other areas such as river safety, and green initiatives. The SCP team will be able to actively engage with all resident issues in the community (students and other residents) to ensure issues are addressed in a timely fashion.
In addition, the Dartmouth Avenue site will be used for extra-curricular activities for students. This will include the SU Volunteer team with student-led community volunteer groups running activities and raising funds for charity. We are exploring what possible new ways we can support the local community from this new base.