Level 4 and campus arrangements after winter break

Dear colleagues and postgraduate researchers,

 

You will be aware of the recent announcements over the weekend made by the UK and Scottish Governments regarding changes to the Covid-19 restrictions and our move to Level 4 on Boxing Day.

You can see again here what the First Minister said on Saturday, but to briefly recap:

  • the five-day relaxation of social mixing over the festive week has been revoked. A helpful guide can be found here
  • travel within Scotland is allowed on Christmas Day only if you can get to your destination and back on the same day
  • mainland Scotland moves to Level 4 of the Covid protection measures on 26 December until at least 16 January
  • a cross-border (Scotland – rest of UK) travel ban will remain in place throughout the festive period, meaning that cross-border travel will only be allowed for essential purposes

Students are still able to travel anywhere in the UK to join a household for the break – please see our latest update to students here. Students travelling abroad have been asked to check before departing that they are able to reach their final destination.  The same advice is currently given to students for their return to Aberdeen in January.

This clearly remains a dynamic situation, and we will continue to monitor events closely and respond to any further changes to national guidance.  For now, this is what we can tell you ahead of the University reopening on 6 January.

Teaching

  • Apart from a few exceptions – and in line with our earlier message to youon- campus teaching will notresume until the weeks of 25 January, 1 February and 8 February
  • Students with placements e.g. Education, Medicine, Physicians Associate, Dentistry have been sent information by their Schools

Research activity, research labs and fieldwork

  • Research labs will remain open as currently approved research is consistent with research allowed under Level 4 restrictions
  • Nevertheless, we would ask you to give careful consideration as to whether some on-campus research activity can be scaled back to minimise footfall on campus. For example, it may be possible to postpone the start of new experiments if this does not cause significant disruption to research programmes.
  • Research involving volunteers and participants which has already been approved may continue, although recruitment of participants who otherwise would not be travelling onto campus should be paused
  • Fieldwork involving travel from Aberdeen to other parts of the UK or elsewhere should be paused under Level 4 restrictions

Frontline staff & home working

  • Critical frontline services will continue to be required on campus consistent with the current arrangement
  • For the majority of staff, home working remains the default position
  • If you have been working on campus in a research environment or have been given approval to access the campus for exceptional reasons, we ask that you exercise caution and consider whether it is necessary for you to attend campus to undertake your activities up to17 January. Please help us to keep footfall to a minimum to provide as safe an environment as possible.
  • After the end of the Christmas closure period on 6 January, if you do need a one-off visit to campus please follow this process.

Buildings, Libraries, University Halls of Residence & Catering

  • Buildings will remain open and grounds activities will continue with essential operational services in place as planned from 6 January to support the phased return of agreed essential activities
  • Halls will remain open and students in residence will continue to receive additional support over the festive period and into the new year.
  • Catering will operate on a ‘take out’ basis only – the Hardback Café in Sir Duncan Rice Library (SDRL) opens on 6 January, the Food Court, IMS and Suttie cafes open on 11 January while MacRobert reopens on 18 January
  • SDRL will open on 11 January with an emphasis on click and collect and no access to the book stack initially
  • Arrangements for the opening of libraries in the Polwarth Building and Taylor Building are under review and will be confirmed in due course.

Shielding & childcare

  • The Level 4 extra protection advice for people at highest risk of Covid-19, including those previously shielding, will apply and those affected should follow this guidance
  • We appreciate that childcare may be an issue for many staff given the phased return of schools, with all pupils not due back in school until 18 January.  Please liaise with your line manager if you are likely to be affected by this so that your situation is understood, and any issues can be addressed.

Student Support Services

  • Support services will continue to operate online in the new year. We will, however, be suspending the in-person support within Elphinstone Hall which was planned to resume in the week commencing 11 January. More details on when this service will resume will be communicated in January.

Out of Hours message

 

Finally, the introduction of Level 4 restrictions from Boxing Day is clearly a disappointing development, along with the toughening of rules around travel and household mixing that will require many of us to change our plans for the winter break.

Our sympathies are with everyone who is prevented from seeing friends and loved ones as planned – we recognise this is especially difficult given the expectation of some additional freedoms over the winter break.

Despite this, we hope that everyone has as enjoyable a break as possible, and that you make the most of the time to rest and recharge ahead of our return on 6 January.  We appreciate the efforts that everyone is going to in order to prepare for our second half session, and we look forward to welcoming you back next year, with hope for a brighter future. 

All best wishes,

Karl and Debbie

 

Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice-Principal

Debbie Dyker
Acting Director of Operations