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COVID-19 FAQs: Return in spring term and January teaching

Universities have been advised to ‘stagger' the return of students, prioritising those on programmes with practical elements or placements, and to provide Lateral Flow Tests for non-symptomatic students and staff when they return to campus. After carefully considering this guidance, we can now share our plans for the start of face-to-face teaching in the spring term.

For more information on lateral flow tests for staff, please visit the January rapid non-symptomatic testing FAQs page.

On Saturday 19 December, the government announced that the south east of England would be placed into Tier 4, with effect from Sunday 20 December. Details of Tier 4 restrictions can be found at Please read this update on plans for the spring term under Tier 4.

What is the January plan for resuming teaching?

The government has confirmed universities can stay open in Tier 4. As the situation currently stands, we will therefore continue to follow our previously published spring term phased return plan, continuing with our blended approach of online and face-to-face teaching.

Academic timetables for the spring term have been published, which show when face-to-face teaching will resume on each module. Institute of Education students can expect to hear directly regarding planned activities in the week commencing 4 January.

Given that the national and local position remains changeable, we are actively monitoring the situation and will keep our approach, including our safety measures, under very close review over the coming days and weeks. We will communicate any changes to colleagues and students early in the new year.


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.

When can I expect to resume working on campus?

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.

What facilities will be open on campus for the start of spring term?

  • Library, museums and collections

The Library will remain open for study space and Click & Collect.  

UMASCS and 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 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 offer takeaway services in our catering outlets including for students resident in halls. Students on catering packages will still be able to access their catering needs. Dine-in provision for residents in halls will not be available.

While under Tier 4, all fitness facilities at the SportsPark will be closed, but outdoor sports fields and grass pitches will remain accessible.

  • RUSU

The Students' Union will move most of its services online, with only essential services being offered in person. Takeaway service will continue in food outlets and The Study will remain open. Social activities will continue to be offered online only. The nursery has now closed and will communicate any changes directly with parents.

Can I pick up office equipment to use for home working?

Yes, but you must first agree arrangements with your line manager and your Head of School or Function.

Heads of Schools and Functions are keeping itineraries of equipment removed from offices, so it is vital you keep your manager informed of anything you remove from campus. University equipment taken home will be covered by the University's insurance. Building access is still restricted - please see the question 'Is building access still restricted?'  for full details.

Many of us will remain working at home for some time, and so it may be worth arranging to pick up items from your office if it will benefit you while you work from home (such as monitors or office chairs).

Where can I find support for remote working?

The Guidance and resources for working remotely page includes information on setting up equipment, keeping in touch with colleagues, staying active, learning new skills, wellbeing support and tax relief.

You can also find a wide range of resources on supporting your mental wellbeing on the University's Wellbeing pages.

For colleagues involved in teaching, a new section on delivering teaching and learning remotely has been created on the Blackboard 'Help for Staff' website. This includes advice on making recordings (Screencasting) and using Blackboard Collaborate. There are also additional information and resources for teaching and learning in the autumn term on this FAQ page.

How do I conduct a meeting with online participants?

We will continue to operate a ‘digital first' policy for meetings in the Spring term. For guidance on conducting meetings during the 2020/21 academic year, view the Guidance for Virtual Meetings document (PDF).

Is building access still restricted?

Access will resume from January 4 2021 and is subject to approval from your Head of School/Function.

As of 1 September 2020, Schools and Functions now manage access to buildings instead of the Major Recovery Team (MRT). This is so that individual Schools and Functions can tailor their phased return plans in a way that best suits their needs, and building access is an important aspect of this.

Before returning to campus, you must complete either the MRT02 or MRT03 form before entering the site. You can obtain these from your School or Functions' Health & Safety Co-ordinator - a list is available on this page if you are unsure of who this would be. Once completed, please return your form to your Head of School or Function (or to your line manager, if they have requested you to).

For one-off requests, you may also be asked to complete a separate form that is specific to your School or Function. You will be provided with details of this, if required.

We have developed different authorisation arrangements for different types of access required to campus. This allows us to respond to simple requests quickly, while ensuring that all requests have the appropriate Health and Safety considerations applied.

Access type

Authorisation method

1. a. One-off access for staff and PhD students to collect materials or equipment (offices)

1. b. One-off access for staff and PhD students in specialist spaces (labs/workshops/studios etc.)

Staff/PhD Supervisor to complete MRT02 or MRT03 form, which you can request from your Health & Safety Coordinator (HSC). Completed form is submitted to Head of School/Function.

You may also be required to complete a form specific to your area of work - details of this will be provided, if required.

For specialist spaces, the requests will be passed to Technical Services to escort staff/students

2. One off access for students to collect items from lockers in academic buildings (collection from Halls is being dealt with separately by UPP, during the same time period)

Students in relevant Schools (and through RUSU for their lockers) have been contacted by Student Support Centres (and RUSU) and asked to complete a form requesting access between 12 June and 28 June 2020 - process now COMPLETE

3. Urgent access for COVID related or other research; contractor access; OH related staff working needs; short term working which cannot be done from home and similar

Head of School/Function to request by email from Director of Estates (acting on behalf of Estates & Infrastructure (E&I) MRT Sub Group). If access is authorised, risk assessments are required to be undertaken locally according to procedures involving Health and Safety Coordinators (HSC) which they can advise on.

Form MRT02/03 as appropriate should be completed by each member of staff in addition to the RA. This can be obtained from your HSC.

4. Resumption of On Campus Activities

Flowchart MRT01 refers.

Heads of School/Function have made a prioritised Resumption of On Campus Activities submission. They have now received a response identifying the earliest date from which the relevant buildings could be available.

Prior to resumption on campus of any work:

  • Risk assessments are required to be undertaken locally according to procedures involving Health and Safety Coordinators.
  • FormsMRT02/03as appropriate (these can be obtained from HSCs) will need to be completed by each member of staff concerned andsubmitted via HSCs to HoS/F.
  • Estates & Infrastructure MRT sub group will review requests from HoS/F weekly and advise the earliest date by which all building/infrastructure/access arrangements can be put in place

No activities should resume on site until that date.

Please allow at least 10 working days notice

4a. Return to campus for individuals

Arrangements relating to individuals' resumption of activities on site will need to be made through their line managers and managed through planning at departmental, School or Function level, with input from local HSCs. The University authorisation for this will follow the process at 4 above.

5. Visitor access to campus

a. Public access to campus - access has been maintained throughout the pandemic for members of the public to use the campus for exercise purposes. Visitors are required to maintain social distancing and avoid the halls area of the campus where students are in residence

b. 'Visitor' access for business purposes e.g. research/commercial partnerships, IELTS testing - Schools/Functions are required to take responsibility for their own visitors and to supervise their visit, this should be discussed and risk assessments agreed with your HSC. Approval for individual visitors will not be provided centrally, but those supervising such visits should go through the process in 4 above prior to commencement of the activity and identify within the MRT02/03 formsthat they will give appropriate supervision for the visitors

6. Tenant access to campus

Resumption of On Campus activities - tenants who have not been working on site and whose building is not currently occupied should contact Chris Reeve, Director of Property Services, who can take them through an appropriately modified version of the process at 4 above.


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 requirementsabout face coverings apply on campus. For example,you must wear a face coveringin 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.

How do I raise any questions I have about working on campus?

You should discuss working on campus with your line manager and raise any questions or concerns you have with them. Please remember that where possible, colleagues should continue to work from home.

If you do need to work on campus, you may find the following risk assessment tools helpful if you have concerns about working based on your circumstances:

Risk Assessment Tool 1(for those who identify they may be vulnerable due to an underlying health conditions or protected characteristic, for example ethnicity, age, gender). Download (Word, 16 KB)

Risk Assessment Tool 2 (Where staff have been identified as having an increased risk via Risk Assessment Tool 1). This tool helps you to evaluate the residual risk of COVID-19 transmission through work activities. Download (Word, 16 KB).

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