Staff Update - 25 March 2020
Adjusting to our new position in ‘lockdown’ is a difficult time for all of us, and we understand that it brings additional stresses - from the impact on our mental health to extra caring responsibilities.
As a University we want to do all we can to relieve our community of some of this added burden and so we have decided to designate this coming Monday (March 30) and the following Monday (April 6) as official rest days where staff usually based at our Aberdeen campuses should, where possible, take the day off for some much-needed respite.
In practical terms, this means that on the next two Mondays, University business will pause as far as reasonably possible, bearing in mind our responsibilities to ensure that essential services are maintained. On these days, we strongly encourage you not to use your phones or IT equipment for business purposes and you should prioritise spending your day free from any work activities.
Of course, we fully appreciate that for some teams experiencing a particularly high level of demand, a collective day off is simply not possible.
There are those within our community who continue to work tirelessly on campus, with appropriate distancing measures, as essential key workers. To you we give thanks, as without your contribution it would not be possible to keep the University running remotely. Be assured that we are exploring ways in which we can best recognise your efforts and we will be in touch with you on that in due course. In the meantime, we want to make sure you enjoy the same benefits as everyone else, therefore you should arrange with your line manager to take your rest day on another day to suit. The same advice applies to staff members who are part-time and don’t usually work Mondays, or who have arranged sessions with students which are difficult to reschedule.
To be clear, this will have no impact on your annual leave entitlement, and we encourage you to continue to take annual leave as usual - if your rest day falls on a day when you are on annual leave, please rearrange your rest day. Now more than ever, it is vitally important that you take time for yourself away from work, to spend time with your families and for the benefit of your own wellbeing. Updated guidance on arranging annual leave is available on our coronavirus FAQs (item 8 under the ‘staff related’ section).
Meanwhile, the University has responded to calls from our student body to provide refunds on student accommodation for those who have chosen to leave University residences. You can find out more here. We have also confirmed with the Department of Education that returning home from University accommodation is allowed as essential travel for students under the new Government guidelines.
We will also today inform our student community that, following detailed consultation, we will not require Level 1 and Level 2 students to undertake examinations in the forthcoming exam diet, with a small number of exceptions. This message will be sent to students shortly, and a separate message to staff is available to view here.
Many of us have now started to establish a routine of working from home, and it is important that we try to observe the same principles as we would in the office to look after ourselves. While working from home be sure to take regular breaks from the screen, get up from your desk and move around, and maintain virtual social contact with your colleagues. Further guidance on this is available here.
On a final note, Monday’s message from the Prime Minister was a sobering one, as again we face new restrictions that are fundamentally changing the way we interact in our day-to-day lives. Please take time to follow the advice on our coronavirus webpages on what you can do to promote your own wellbeing, for example through the daily 15-minute mindfulness sessions led by Colette Savage, Lecturer in Mindfulness in the School of Education, which run from 9.30 - 9.45am on Microsoft Teams.
Through these updates we will continue to provide you with the latest information and advice that can help you navigate these challenging times, and update you on the adjustments that the University is making to respond to the current difficulties faced by the higher education sector.
George and Karl
Professor George Boyne