Living with Covid - message to staff

24 February 2022

Dear colleagues, 

This week the First Minister provided an update on the Scottish Government's plans for managing the Covid-19 pandemic in the future.  

The publication of a new strategic framework is intended to guide the country back to normality while acknowledging the continued presence and risks posed by the virus. 

Here are the key points from the update:  

  • Scotland’s legally enforced Covid-19 restrictions will end on 21 March 

  • This means there will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings. Nevertheless the Scottish Government has indicated that face coverings will be strongly recommended in certain settings, such as shops and public transport. There will be further discussions with Scottish Government in the coming weeks and we will provide an update ahead of 21 March regarding face coverings and other mitigations currently in place at the University. 

  • The vaccine passport scheme will end on Monday - 28 February 

  • Existing rules on self-isolation will remain in place in Scotland for now 

  • The strategic framework will rely on voluntary compliance with basic protective measures, continued vaccine uptake and other mitigations 

  • A plan for the future of Test and Protect in Scotland will be set out in March  

This is clearly a significant update and positive step towards a return to normality for all our staff and students, and we have updated our students today 

The strategic framework acknowledges the need for a return to more in-person teaching, nonetheless the ongoing risk of the emergence of new variants, such as Omicron, means that we must continue to plan to mitigate against future scenarios which may threaten the safety of our community. 

Campus Planning Group met yesterday for an initial discussion on what the lifting of restrictions and publication of the framework means for the University.  These discussions will continue over the coming weeks and will be informed by wider discussions taking place between the sector and Scottish Government, as we seek to make decisions that best serve the needs of our entire community. We will keep you fully updated on our progress, and in the meantime here is a reminder of current advice around testing and vaccinations which remain our best protection from the virus.  

Testing  

The Scottish Government is to set out a more detailed plan for the future of Test and Protect in Scotland, following the UK Government’s decision to end free mass testing in England from April. 

The current advice on testing will change from Monday, when instead of testing before going anywhere to mix with others, the advice is to test at least twice a week and in particular if you are going to a crowded place or mixing with someone who is clinically vulnerable. 

You can pick up LFD kits from the Butchart Test Facility – kits are also available at pharmacies and can be ordered online from the NHS.   

If your lateral flow test is positive, you must isolate and report your result online so NHS Test & Protect can start the contact tracing process – reporting via Test & Protect will ensure that everyone who needs to be contacted is provided with the best advice based on their own circumstances. 

Equally important is the need to report to the University if you have tested positive for Covid or are self-isolating, via our Covid-19 Isolation/Absence Reporting webform. This will ensure you are supported during your self-isolation period. Please report any period of self-isolation, even if you have not had a positive result. 

For those who have symptoms of Covid, the advice in Scotland remains to book a PCR test. Test & Protect can nevertheless start contact tracing on the strength of a reported positive lateral flow result as well as a PCR. 

Vaccines 

The vaccine booster programme was accelerated over the winter break, and all adults aged 18 and over can book their vaccine via NHS Inform. 

Those who have not had a vaccine at all yet can attend a drop-in clinic, call the national helpline number on 0800 030 8013 (open 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week) or self-register to book an appointment.  

Finally, in the past few weeks many more of us have returned to working on campus, either full-time or as part of hybrid working arrangements, and it is good to see life on campus return to as close to normal as current circumstances allow. 

We recognise however that we are still in a period of transition which may bring challenges, and we want to remind you that support is always available, either via your line manager or through other resources, including our guidance for managing and working in a hybrid team and workplace wellbeing advice.  

We continue to look ahead with optimism that the worst of the pandemic is now behind us and that we can transition smoothly back to life on campus, while building on all that we have achieved for our University over the past two years, despite the impact of Covid-19. 

Best wishes 

Karl and Debbie 

 

Karl Leydecker  
Senior Vice-Principal  

Debbie Dyker 
Director of People 

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