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Latest update from Deputy VC on coronavirus

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This message from Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Parveen Yaqoob was sent to all colleagues at the University

Dear colleagues,

An email has been sent this afternoon to our students with updated teaching arrangements for the remainder of this term. This responds to the increasing concern from colleagues and students regarding COVID-19 as well as rapid changes in the national and global situation.

We were also advised yesterday, Sunday 15 March, that a visiting post-graduate student has tested positive for COVID-19 after leaving the UK. The student had only limited engagements on campus during a short visit and we will be contacting those in direct contact with further information. We are also aware that a student in Halls accommodation called an ambulance and was taken to hospital. We have had no confirmation of COVID-19 in this case. Naturally these developments will cause concern for our community.

The University Executive Board (UEB) agreed this morning that from Wednesday 18 March face-to-face teaching will cease and all teaching and assessment will be provided online, other than in some exceptional circumstances where this is not possible. This decision recognises the increasing number of students who wish to return to their homes and removes the need for colleagues to teach in person.

Students have been advised that Schools will communicate with them by end of tomorrow, Tuesday 17 March, with advice on what these changes mean for their studies. We have also committed to communicating by Monday 23 March regarding the position next term, including for exams, for which the Major Incident Team is actively developing contingency plans.

Other facilities like the Library, Study@URS, Halls and catering will continue to operate at this time, to support those students who choose to remain. 

I fully understand that this represents a significant change to our normal activities. It will require many colleagues to work at speed to put these new arrangements in place, and I want to thank you in advance for this. More detailed guidance for teaching colleagues will follow soon and Teaching & Learning Dean Katja Strohfeldt is consulting with School Directors of Teaching & Learning. We can anticipate that there may be challenges as we adjust to this new way of working. I hope you will appreciate that this situation is unprecedented for our University community, and we need to provide greater certainty to colleagues and students. I ask for your support and patience as we transition to these new arrangements.

It has also been decided that no new overseas travel should be booked until further notice. This reflects the increasing travel disruption worldwide, and the number of institutions cancelling events and scaling back their activities.

The Major Incident Team has also approved the cancellation of our upcoming Visit Day this Saturday, 21 March. This will be communicated shortly by Global Recruitment and Admissions to those who have registered to attend. We have already been in touch with those in Schools and Departments who are involved in delivering this activity.

I know many of you will be anxious, and I as I said in my email on Friday, it is more important than ever that we support each other and check in on each other’s wellbeing. Please remember that, if you develop a high temperature or a new persistent cough, it is extremely important, for the safety of our community, that you immediately follow the government guidelines on self-isolation and communicate with your line manager.

I have full confidence that we can work together to respond to these challenges, and continue to deliver our core business of teaching and research as best as we are able.

Kind regards,

Parveen

 

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