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Update from MRT: Reading to enter Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday 19 December

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The following message was sent to all colleagues from Professor Julian Park and Professor Dominik Zaum, Co-Chairs of the Major Response Team.

Dear colleagues,

The government has announced yesterday that the ‘very high' level, or Tier 3, of the local COVID alert system will apply to Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, where our Whiteknights, London Road and Henley campuses are located, from 00:01 on Saturday 19 December. Previously, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire have been under ‘high' or Tier 2 restrictions.

Under the government's guidance, universities can remain open as long as safety measures are in place to minimise the spread of the virus. This email sets out some initial information about what that will mean for colleagues and students. Please also take a moment to read the full details of the Tier 3 restrictions on the government website.

What is the impact on University activities in the spring term?

We have already published our plans for the phased return to blended teaching in January. Subject to any further advice or clarification from government, we anticipate that from the start of the spring term on 11 January, we will be operating as follows:

  • Teaching

We intend to continue with our blended approach of online and face-to-face teaching, adhering to all the safety measures we already have in place. We will follow our previously published spring term phased return plan.

Public Health England has expressed confidence in our approach and the transmission data available shows that teaching sessions do not present an identifiable risk for students or for colleagues.

As we have done all year, we will keep this position under review and respond if required following any new guidance from the government.

  • Research

Where possible, research should be conducted from home. Research activities can continue on campus if the research work cannot reasonably be conducted from home or without gathering with others. Any research activities that involve members of the public visiting campus should be postponed where possible. If this is not possible, approval requires an appropriate Risk Assessment and adhering to government guidance related to travel.

  • Library, museums and collections

The Library will remain open for study space and Click & Collect. In line with Tier 3 restrictions, our museums and special collections, including The MERL, will move to a Click & Collect service only, with no access to collections.

  • Study Space

Students will be able to access pre-bookable study space in the Library, as well as non-bookable space in the URS building, The Study at RUSU and other locations around campus such as in Halls.

  • Student support

Our student advice and support services will continue to be available remotely. Our reception desks will be open for drop-in queries and students can still make bookings for face-to-face appointments where needed.

  • Food, sport and recreation

We will continue to offer take-away services in our catering outlets, although there may be a reduction of some services. For example, some facilities may move to ‘residents only' to prioritise resident students who have no alternative access to dining facilities.

We are planning to reopen the gym at the SportsPark in January, although group exercise classes cannot take place under Tier 3 restrictions. Organised outdoor sport can continue, in line with guidance from national sporting governing bodies.

  • RUSU

The Students' Union will move most of its services online, with only essential services being offered in person. Take-away service will continue in food outlets and The Study will remain open. Social activities will continue to be offered online only. The nursery will remain open.

The government has indicated that tier levels will be regularly reviewed, so we will continue to monitor the latest advice and update our plans if necessary. Please do keep an eye on your University email and the Staff Portal for any important updates. 

We will shortly be sending a similar email to all students to share the same information.

Our COVID-19 support line (0118 214 7813 ) will be open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and 11am to 4pm on weekends until the Christmas closure starts on Tuesday 22 December. An email service at covid-hotline@reading.ac.uk will operate for urgent queries only over the closure period, other than Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. The hotline phone service will reopen from Monday 4 January.

We wish you and your families a happy and restful Christmas,

Julian and Dominik

Professor Julian Park (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience) and Professor Dominik Zaum (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation)

Co-Chairs, University of Reading Major Response Team

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