Staff Update - 3 September 2020
Earlier this week we received a significant update from the Scottish Government in the form of updated guidance for the sector.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for universities, colleges and student accommodation providers uses the most up-to-date evidence to support the sector in planning for the new academic year. The guidance confirms that ‘Building on planning during the various phases of the Scottish Government’s route map, a blended or “hybrid” approach will remain in place. This will see a combination of digital and face-to-face delivery that reflects public health guidance’.
The guidance confirms that our own plans for blended learning, with limited face-to-face teaching in small groups with rigorous physical distancing and other measures designed to ensure that teaching on campus is as safe as possible are in alignment with the expectations of the Scottish Government.
This 35-page document will be a key reference point for the Campus Planning Group, Health and Safety Committee, Blended Learning Implementation Task and Finish Group and everyone involved in the intensive activity to prepare for the start of term.
It is pleasing to see that the vast majority of the guidance is mirrored in our current approach, informed by our Return to Campus Guidance, albeit we are studying the Scottish Government’s recommendations closely to ensure that any opportunity to enhance our existing approach is taken.
We are conscious that the arrival of students and the prospect of returning to campus for the first time after many months, for example to teach or support our students, is challenging and that staff have many questions and concerns in this regard.
In response to feedback, we will ensure that there will be opportunities for staff due to return to campus at the start of term to visit campus in advance so that you can familiarise yourself with the revised layouts in teaching rooms, and the measures put in place to ensure physical distancing, the safe flow of people into and through our buildings, and so on. Information on opportunities to visit campus will follow in due course.
Open Session on 9 September
The University will host an extended Open Session for staff on Wednesday 9 September, 10-11.30am, hosted by George Boyne (Principal & Vice-Chancellor), Karl Leydecker (Senior Vice-Principal), Ruth Taylor (Vice-Principal Education) and Debbie Dyker (Acting Director of Operations) with support from members of the Campus Planning Group.
This online session is open to all staff and will provide an update on the University’s ongoing response to the pandemic and the measures that are in place to ensure that we are ready to welcome students, and the staff who will be teaching and supporting the delivery of teaching safely back to campus. It will include updates and guidance on blended learning, the University’s approach to mitigate risk and the health and wellbeing of our community.
This event is open to all staff, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.
If you have questions ahead of the session, please check the FAQs available on our website and if you can’t find the answer through the FAQs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A recording of the session will be made available for those who are unable to join the live event. Details on how to join this event will be publicised in the next few days.
Return to Campus by Exemption Protocol
The protocol and form for staff and PGR students to request a return to working on campus can be found on this page. Requests can be submitted in respect of exceptional circumstances such as those with home environments that make home working particularly difficult; those who need to access materials in their office for research purposes that they cannot suitably arrange to store at home, those who need access to specialist facilities; and those with severely extended commute times due to nurseries or schools re-opening.
Before submitting a request please carefully consider if the activity is business critical. We will continue to strictly adhere to Scottish Government guidance and while small numbers of staff whose role does not require them to be on campus can be permitted to return to campus, the overriding message in the Scottish Government guidance remains that staff should continue to work from home where their role allows, remaining consistent with Phase 3 of the Scottish Government route map.
Staff Survey report
As we move closer to the beginning of the new academic year, it bears repeating that everybody within the University community should be immensely proud of all the hard work that has been done to get us to the position where we have been able to re-start research activities on campus and put the necessary measures in place to welcome students onto campus again. We recognise that this is an uncertain time, and we hope the open sessions will help to answer any questions you may have. We have made seismic changes to the way we work, teach and carry out our research in such a short space of time in order to do this. We must, however, stay vigilant and ensure that we adhere to Scottish Government guidance and all the protocols put in place in order to keep ourselves and others safe – within the University community and beyond.
Karl and Debbie
Professor Karl Leydecker
Acting Director of Operations