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COVID-19 FAQ: COVID-19 safeguards and restrictions

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Topics covered: what to do if you are sick or self-isolating; NHS Test and Trace; vulnerable groups; social distancing on campus; safety measures on campus; face coverings. 

Questions

What if I get sick or need to self-isolate?

Staff, students and visitors must not enter campus if showing any symptoms of the virus. 

Please visit the government and NHS websites for the latest medical advice and immediate next steps to take if you or anyone in your household or ‘bubble’ becomes unwell.

You can request a test for yourself or a member of your household from this NHS link. Those testing positive will need to follow instructions to self-isolate – please see the government’s advice on self-isolation for full details. Your line manager will support you if you need to self-isolate, so please keep them informed. You will be paid if you need to self-isolate. 

If you are self-isolating but are sufficiently well and can work from home, then you should continue to do so. Just remember to keep in regular contact with your line manager. 

If you are too unwell to work, you will need to complete the NHS self-isolation note and should follow our standard sickness reporting procedure. Please ensure you keep your manager informed. 

If you are a line manager, further guidance is available in the ‘Guidance for Managers’ section, which will help you on managing colleagues through the phased return. 

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What if I am contacted by the NHS Test and Trace?

If you are contacted as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme please follow any instructions you are given to self-isolate. Please also inform your line manager if you are contacted. 

We may have to keep records of people using certain buildings on campus for Test and Trace purposes, so please provide your contact details if you are asked for them. 

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What if I am in a high-risk group?

If you are in one of the ‘high risk' groups, you may still be able to work from home - please speak to your line manager if you are concerned about returning to campus and we will consider this carefully. Where appropriate, we will agree alternative arrangements, in consultation with Occupational Health as needed.

If you are unable to work from home due to your circumstances or the nature of your role, please also discuss this with your manager and maintain regular contact with them.

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How will social distancing work on campus?

This Safety Note and Code of Conduct (Word, 785 KB) for staff outline how social distancing will work on campus. All colleagues coming to campus should familiarise themselves with the guidance outlined there. Those on campus must ensure they continue to follow the latest government advice on social distancing.

Colleagues involved with teaching and learning should also read the note COVID19 Social Distancing within Teaching, Learning & Assessment Activities.

It is your personal responsibility to maintain social distancing. We recognise that it can be difficult at times but everyone is expected to contribute to appropriate social distancing on campus.  For the safety of our whole community, action can be taken if students or colleagues wilfully disregard the guidance. It is also human to make mistakes! So please be patient with yourself and others.

Measures may vary within individual buildings and in outdoor spaces. All Schools and Functions have completed risk assessments for their individual areas and are tailoring safety measures to best fit with their local needs. You can find details of these in the Corporate-Level Risk Assessment for COVID-19.

If you have any concerns over social distancing, please speak to your line manager.

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What will happen if social distancing restrictions change?

We will continue to closely monitor the evolving government advice and will be prepared to respond as quickly as possible to changes that affect the way we operate. We'll share the latest updates with you by email and through the staff portal.

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What health & safety measures will be in place in teaching rooms for autumn 2020?

This story sets out our current plans for teaching in the autumn term.

We would like to emphasise that our commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of our students and colleagues remains our foremost priority. If individual members of staff or students raise concerns (for staff, with their line manager) about these measures not being suitable for them (for example, due to a disability or increased vulnerability to the virus) we will consider this carefully. Where appropriate, we will agree alternative arrangements, in consultation with Occupational Health as needed.

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Do I have to wear a face covering? 

The University supports the government's advice that face coverings can be used as a precautionary measure to protect others and advises that we "Protect our Community: Wear a Face Covering". 

There are three main points for both students and colleagues to remember:

1.  All legal requirements about face coverings apply on campus. For example, you must wear a face covering in shops, takeaway food outlets, on public transport, places of worship and in our museums.

2.  In line with government guidance, you are expected to wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult to maintain, including:

  • in enclosed spaces, including classrooms, lecture theatres and the library, or where social distancing of 2 metres is not possible (this includes corridors and outdoor spaces)
  • where you come into contact with others that you do not normally meet.


3. You do not need to wear a face covering if you can work 2 metres from others, so you may choose to  remove it when sitting at a desk or workstation outside a classroom setting (if you are more than 2 metres away from other people) although you should put it back on to move around inside buildings.

It is important to note that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings. This can be for a wide range of reasons, including hidden disabilities. If you see someone wearing a sunflower lanyard, this indicates that they have a hidden disability. However, wearing one is a personal choice and not everyone affected by a hidden disability will choose to do so.

Students living in our Halls of Residence do not need to wear a face covering inside their house/flat. Students may wish to wear a face covering in communal areas inside halls where it is not possible to maintain social distancing of 2 metres.  

In general, you will need to have your own face covering and you will be able to purchase them at various outlets on campus. Face coverings can take a variety of forms but should cover the nose and mouth areas. There is helpful advice on using and disposing of face coverings on the UK government website.

Members of staff working in reception areas, catering outlets and support areas, where a high degree of interaction is likely, will be supplied with appropriate face covering if a risk assessment indicates that this is necessary. Staff delivering face-to-face teaching will be able to request a face visor, which can provide reassurance for both staff and students as well as allowing easier communication.

We are a diverse community and we wish to take a position that is consistent with government advice and that feels as safe and reassuring as possible for everyone. Please be courteous, respectful and patient towards all members of our community.

You can read more about face coverings, including how to make your own, on the government's website.

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What happens if there is a case on campus?

In the event of a local outbreak, the University's response will be led by local health agencies. The University’s activity will be co-ordinated by the MRT, the Risk Management Group and Health & Safety Services.

We must all do our bit so keep our whole community safe. If colleagues or students do not comply with self-isolation requirements or safety measures on campus, this may result in disciplinary action. If you have any concerns, please raise these with your line manager.

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Will there be extra cleaning and hygiene measures in place?

Changes have already been made to cleaning regimes and protocols. This enhanced cleaning may not be visible as cleaners will mostly work out of office hours to minimise contact with other staff. Protocols have been devised for additional cleaning in the event of positive COVID-19 test results for anyone known to have come on site.

All colleagues are expected to continue washing their hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Hand sanitiser will be provided in some parts of the University, where risk assessment has identified this is appropriate.

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Will Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be provided?

All colleagues and students will need to have their own face covering in order to comply with government requirements.

If a risk assessment identifies that individual colleagues are at increased risk of infection directly from their work activity, the University will supply appropriate PPE.

Colleagues delivering face-to-face teaching will be able to request a face visor, which can provide reassurance for both staff and students as well as allowing easier communication.

You are welcome and encouraged to use personal face coverings and hand sanitiser, particularly inside buildings, as long as these do not compromise other control measures provided for health & safety. If using a mask, it is your personal responsibility to ensure it is appropriately disposed of.

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Are there extra behavioural considerations to be aware of?

Please read our Code of Conduct (Word, 795 KB) and complete the two COVID-19 induction modules on UoRLearn in preparation of returning to campus. As a community we must be constantly mindful of others' concerns and personal preferences. Please be kind and courteous of those around you and remember that we are all working through this together.

Obviously, you should feel free to say hello to colleagues and friends! However, please observe social distancing requirements and, in particular, do not gather for casual conversations or make mobile phone calls in corridors and common areas, especially where this would require others to pass close to you.

If you have any concerns over social distancing, please speak to your line manager.

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Are there extra considerations for those with disabilities or increased vulnerability?

Your line manager will support you in the transition back to campus, so please keep in regular contact with them as arrangements are made.

Any risk factors that may need to be taken into account and mitigated will be discussed before you are asked to return to campus, and this may require an individual risk assessment. There may also be scope for extended periods of remote working where possible for your role. Occupational Health can also be involved where appropriate in supporting discussions about a return to working on campus.

Hand sanitiser will be available for disabled colleagues using lifts and others who cannot easily access handwashing facilities.

Lifts should be reserved for those with a genuine need arising from disability (including invisible disabilities), injury, illness, pregnancy or a manual handling task. Only one person should use a lift at a time, and ample space should be given for those entering/exiting the lift.

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What if there is an emergency on campus, such as a fire?

In the unlikely event of an emergency, such as a campus fire or major incident, your safety is our primary concern - please follow our usual evacuation procedure. We would not expect you to follow strict one-way systems in the event of an emergency, and so may have to compromise social distancing measures if we need to evacuate safely.

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Where can I find additional Health & Safety guidance?

On the Health & Safety Policies, Safety Guides and Notes page, along with guidance on social distancing, there are additional Safety Notes on low occupancy buildings, COVID-19 First Aid and social distancing for Teaching and Learning activities. If any of these topics apply to you, please take a moment to review this additional guidance.     

If you need to log an incident or concern, please use this online form to report an accident or incident. You can use this to record details of any Health and Safety issues, such as an accident, near-miss, general concern, occupational illness or injury.   

If you have any specific health and safety queries, please contact your local Health & Safety Co-ordinator in the first instance - you can find details of these and the areas they cover on this page.

If you need further or specialised assistance please contact Health & Safety Services on safety@reading.ac.uk or call 0118 378 8888.

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