With optimism, the University is now putting in place an ambitious plan to reopen the campus for September 2020 enabling us to both recruit new students, and  to teach safe/secure campus; this is business critical and affects our future. 

To get to this position will require careful, detailed planning, ensuring that we comply with the regulations in force at all times and that health and safety standards for dealing with the ongoing pandemic, with Government advice are always met. 

In the next few weeks, small numbers of key staff will be identified and requested to attend the University buildings to get us ready for ‘COVID compliant’ ‘COVID secure’ opening by September 2020.

Derek Rout (Facilities Director) will take charge of the reshaping and recommissioning of our buildings, and make all reasonable adjustments needed to make the campus operate; whilst ensuring social distancing and other regulatory and legal requirements are met.

This will mean changes to the way our buildings are set out and used, and this will need careful planning and key staff working to make the changes necessary on the ground. 

Derek will call staff ‘in’ as needed to return to ‘work on site’ in accordance with this objective. The call to ‘come into work’ will be on a needs basis for the institution and will involve direct requests to specific individuals. 

If you are needed on campus you will be called upon and contacted, and you will only be asked to come in when David Thurston (Health and Safety Manager) is confident that it is safe for you to do so. David is working closely with Derek to this end. Do not come to work on campus unless you are specifically required.

Obviously, people will be able to follow new Government rules and policies at home, including taking more exercise outdoors.  

You should, however, still be available and working during your normal working hours, attending Zoom or Teams meetings and supporting students to complete their studies this academic year.

The small number of colleagues furloughed should comply with the requirements of that scheme and, if called in to campus to take on work, they will be ‘unfurloughed’ (if that is in fact a word) on  a case by case basis, from time to time, as needed. 

The Government has made new announcements about the furlough scheme and these will apply to staff who continue to be furloughed after 1 July 2020 (I do not expect this to be a large number of people at all).

Between 25 May 2020 and 1 September 2020 (this being the date in September when we plan to open fully but with a ‘new normal’ and COVID safe mode of using the campus), Derek will be gradually reintroducing operational functions on campus.  

Part of Facilities, maintenance, cleaning, grounds staff plus Post Room and Reception will probably be some of the first functions to return to site over the next few weeks in a new ‘safe configuration‘ followed by a ‘click and collect’ library skeleton staff service. 

Student Services will slowly follow, again with skeleton staffing, along with a skeleton staff in Finance. Duty on-site management functions will be re-established. Derek and senior colleagues will be working this plan through in the coming weeks and you will be contacted when you are needed.

Obviously, I cannot predict a backwards step in national policy or a return to full ‘stay at home’ lockdown if the virus gets out of hand nationally or in our region (given the new state of alert criteria introduced by Government this week).

However, we are now planning positively for re-opening in a new, safe and socially distanced way. As things develop or change significantly I will,  as always, write to you again.

For now, keep doing the great job you are doing remotely and stay alert to the dangers of infection, thereby controlling the spread of the virus and, as a result, saving lives.

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