Message to staff and PGR students, 12 August
As we approach the end of our first week of most of Scotland’s Covid-19 restrictions lifting, we can now update you on the latest decisions from our Campus Planning Group.
Our broad approach, as outlined in last week's message, remains the same: we are making our own transition towards normality, but with additional protective measures in place in the early weeks of teaching, including reduced occupancy levels in teaching rooms during first half session and enhanced cleaning and ventilation, as not all students will yet have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. The Scottish Government guidance for our sector was updated this week and guides our direction of travel.
It will be a period of change over the coming weeks. We recognise that this will be exciting for some, but may also cause some apprehension within our community, as more of us return to working on campus and as we plan resumption of a wide range of face-to-face teaching on campus. Each of us will be adjusting at a different pace towards normality, but we will do all we can to support our community.
Buildings open – Old Aberdeen
From Monday 16 August swipe access control restrictions will be eased to allow all staff and PGR students based on our King’s campus to access University buildings using their swipe cards between 8am and 6.15pm every weekday. Existing preauthorised access arrangements outside these times will remain. Staff who wish to work at or visit the King’s campus do not need to seek permission from their line manager in advance but should raise any questions they have with their manager. Local discussions around phased return of teams to support on-campus activity will continue to guide the broad approach in Directorates.
*Please note that similar arrangements for Foresterhill will come into operation from Monday 23 August to allow necessary preparations to be completed. Staff who already have permission to work on campus at Foresterhill may continue to do so, but we ask for your patience if you do not yet have permission to return.
Old Aberdeen buildings without swipe access will remain locked but will be accessible to building users who have keys. A small number of buildings will remain closed until nearer to the start of term. Any queries, requirements or arrangements for these areas should be coordinated with Estates and Facilities and directed to email@example.com.
The easing of these restrictions will allow staff and PGR students to access space on campus to collect personal items, and reconnect with colleagues. Previous processes requiring authorisation to come onto King’s campus – including completion of the access to campus form, and line manager approval - are no longer needed. Schools and Directorates are empowered to consider and manage internally any operational issues they may have with the return of staff and PGR students.
Work continues in our buildings, e.g. to update signage in line with the revised Scottish Government guidance.
Libraries will continue to operate as they do now for the time being, with a limit on occupancy and access controls in place.
The campus is not yet open to members of the public, but Schools and Directorates now have responsibility for the management locally of any visitors that they wish to allow access.
Those returning to campus may have questions and we will try to address some here:
- All spaces have been regularly cleaned throughout the pandemic since last July and this is ongoing
- Staff and students are expected to clean their own personal desks, keyboards, equipment, mice etc., and Schools and Directorates should supply materials
- Where this is normal practice, you should still sign into buildings for security and fire safety as usual
- You can now eat in shared spaces including write-up areas
- While there are no restrictions on numbers allowed in lifts at one time, users should be mindful of others’ personal space and avoid overcrowding and observe voluntary distancing
- Anyone with devices currently configured for home use should log a call with the helpdesk if they have any issues, and IT will be in touch as soon as resources allow. Advance warning of any IT requirements would be helpful in order to avoid delay in service provision
- Parking charges on campus will not resume on campus until 4 October, with further information to follow about new arrangements for payment in due course.
- A personal risk assessment is not required for visiting or returning to work on campus.
- Updated FAQs on the return to campus will appear here shortly
Distancing and face coverings
Government restrictions are still in place for face coverings to be worn in indoor public spaces and on public transport, and everyone should continue to wear these while moving around buildings. CPG has accepted a recommendation from its research subgroup that face coverings should continue to be worn in research labs. In other workplace settings, once at your desk or workstation, coverings can be removed, including in shared workspaces providing you have agreement from others.
The Government guidance notes that keeping a reasonable distance from people and avoiding places that are crowded will minimise risk and we therefore recommend that people exercise personal responsibility in relation to maintaining a reasonable distance in shared workspaces as well as when moving around inside buildings, but physical distancing is not a legal or University requirement.
We will be having further discussions with regard to policy around physical distancing and face coverings in teaching settings at Campus Planning Group over the coming weeks and will update you on the outcome of those discussions in due course.
IT and office kit
Many of our staff working off-campus took IT and office equipment home in order to set up a workstation. Teams from across the University supported the delivery of equipment to those staff who were unable to move it themselves. Should you be returning to work on campus and wish to move equipment back, please do so. If you are unable to move the equipment yourself, please complete this webform to request support and one of our team will contact you directly.
Just a reminder that you can find information on our coronavirus pages and we will also keep you updated by email or via our Staff Ezine, which will be back in your inboxes every Thursday from next week.
Karl and Tracey
University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer