CPG Update: Covid testing, campus access over winter closure period, catering & free space

Message to staff November 26, 2020

Dear Staff and Postgraduate Researchers,

The past few weeks have offered a glimpse of a clear pathway out of the pandemic, with several major announcements on the development of vaccines that we could see in use in the very near future. 

Of course, much remains uncertain, and we expect that our current approach on blended learning and home working will remain the default position well into 2021, or until such time that guidance from the Scottish Government might change. This is unlikely to be until the successful roll-out of a vaccination programme.

This week has brought some additional news from Government, that current Covid-19 restrictions will be relaxed over the winter break, allowing up to three households to stay together and form a bubble from 23-27 December. 

While this announcement has been tempered by advice that people should still avoid contact if possible, I’m sure that for many this temporary relaxation comes as welcome news, which taken alongside other recent announcements provides hope for the weeks and months ahead, as we work towards the end of in-person teaching on 9 December, and the end of term on 18 December.

We’d now like to update you on a few items of interest from this week’s meeting of the Campus Planning Group, as follows:

Covid testing of students

Yesterday we issued a message to students about our new test centre that will allow our students, and those from NESCOL and SRUC, to access free asymptomatic testing so they can leave Aberdeen safely over the winter break.

This has been a huge effort, and we’d like to thank everyone involved for their ongoing hard work which is helping to protect our students and ensure their safe departure from the city, and arrival to their destination. 

We have been inundated with offers from our own community to help staff the facility at the Butchart Centre on University Road, including more than 550 members of staff and students who came forward.  This is testament to the shared sense of community and common purpose that has played such a crucial role in helping us navigate our way through the pandemic. 

We ask that tutors continue to support us in our efforts by signposting the availability of the test centre to students, and encouraging them to take a test.

Access to campus over the winter closure period

Between 5pm on Monday 21 December and 8am on Wednesday 6 January the University will be formally closed to staff, students and the public.  Arrangements have already been made through Schools and Directorates to implement pre-authorised access for specified staff who by nature of their roles are required to undertake key business critical or emergency response activities.  Please note that the Sir Duncan Rice library, Law Library (Taylor Building) and Medical Library (Foresterhill) will close at 5pm on Friday, 18 December.

Catering and free space on campus  

From Monday 30 November we plan to open two rooms in Crombie (TV Lounge and Library) which can be used for study space as well as the consumption of food and drink.  This is primarily for the use of those who need to remain on-campus between taught sessions, or because transport arrangements mean they need to remain on campus for longer periods.

We are also in the process of more fully opening the Suttie Centre Café so that users can sit in, and we hope to have this in place sometime next week.  

In the meantime, we remind you that cafés that remain open on campus include The Hardback Café at the Sir Duncan Rice Library, the Food Court, and Union Brew in the Student Union Building.  The Macrobert Café will stop serving food and drink at 2pm on Friday 27 November until the New Year, however the seating area will continue to be available for use.

As it currently stands Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire remain in Level 2 under current Covid restrictions, and the hope remains that we will not see ourselves move upwards into another tier, as we have seen elsewhere in Scotland.

In order to continue to protect our community we must all continue to follow FACTS guidance: face coverings, avoiding crowded places, cleaning our hands regularly, keeping a two-metre distance and self-isolating and booking a test if symptoms develop.

This is particularly important as we act to ensure safe departures over the winter break, allied to our testing centre being up and running from Monday 30 November to Friday 11 December. 

Finally, we thank you once again for all your ongoing efforts.  There is still much work ahead for all of us, but we are now beginning to see some hope for a brighter future, and an eventual return to normality.

Best wishes

Karl and Debbie

Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice-Principal

Debbie Dyker
Acting Director of Operations

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