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Important COVID-19 update: Our response to government announcement about the summer term

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

Dear colleagues, 

Following the government announcement on 13 April, we are sharing further information about our plans for the summer term. This email will shortly be sent to all students. 

Teaching in the summer term (19 April - 11 June)

The government has advised that students should continue to study online until at least the 17 May (Step 3 on the Roadmap), unless they are undertaking a placement or practical and studio-based activities that cannot easily be replicated online. We previously worked closely with Schools to identify these cohorts and students were informed in the spring term if they had face-to-face activities. Following this announcement, the position remains the same for summer term teaching, placement and practical activity for those students already identified, while all other students will remain online only. 

Students with online-only teaching are encouraged by government to remain at their current address if possible. However, in addition to face-to-face teaching, students are able to return if it is necessary, for example: 

  • international students who cannot amend their travelplans
  • iftheydo not have facilities to continuetheirstudies online attheirvacation address
  • for health and safety reasons
  • to continue to access specialist medical or mental health services.

For students who travelled home for Easter but are returning for face-to-face activities or other essential reasons, they can do so on one occasion between 8 March and 29 April (once to travel to a vacation address and once to return for the summer term). Once returned, students should not travel back and forth between addresses. 

For academic colleagues, your timetable for the summer term is live on CMISGo. Edits are being made to reflect the new government guidance and will be pushed through to your Outlook calendars and the new UoR student app by Friday 16 April. Please check regularly to keep up to date with any changes. 

As previously explained, most exams will be online this summer, with a very small number of exceptions where in-person assessment is necessary (students are permitted to travel to campus for in-person exams).  

Any teaching on campus for practical or studio-based activities will be subject to the ‘1m+' social distancing control measure, as agreed by the Major Recovery Team (MRT). Distancing for all other activities (for example, in the Library and within offices) will remain at 2 metres, until further notice. 

Working arrangements for colleagues

The current government advice to work from home wherever possible is likely to remain in place until at least mid-June. All colleagues should continue to work from home unless your role doesn't allow or you cannot do so effectively, and you have permission to be on campus from your Head of School or Function.  

Any colleagues working on campus must ensure they have completed the Health & Safety induction modules on UoR Learn. If you are returning to campus after time spent mostly working at home, we recommend reviewing these modules again and the relevant Risk Assessment for your area. If you have any queries, please speak to your line manager or Health & Safety Co-Ordinator.  

Research

If access to the campus and facilities is required for their research, colleagues and research students can work on the campus. This is subject to Head of School approval while the government guidance to work from home where possible remains in place. Some research activities that bring non-University people to the campus can now resume where the activity cannot be reasonably conducted remotely, subject to appropriate risk assessments and with Head of School approval.  

Campus facilities

A range of facilities have continued to operate on campus and, in line with the government's easing of lockdown restrictions, we are pleased to announce the reopening or extended opening of a number of facilities, from the start of term (Monday 19 April). 

Library and study space 

While students are encouraged to study from their residence wherever possible, the Library is open for Click & Collect and bookable study space (8:30am to midnight from Sunday to Friday and 08:30 to 21:00 on Saturdays). Students can also use non-bookable study space in Study@URS from 08:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. RUSU's The Study and our PC Labs in Palmer and Agriculture are also accessible 24/7 by Campus Card. A number of other buildings containing study centres and student support centres will be on open access during normal working hours. 

Student support 

The Student Services Reception in the Carrington Building will continue to be available for in-person enquiries. The JJT and Earley Gate Support Centres will be open for drop-in queries and support from the start of term. Any student can come in for advice regardless of their programme of study,  and we will increase the provision of some support services face-to-face, where safe to do so. Our full range of specialist advice and support services are available remotely, including Support Centres and the Henley Helpdesk, the ISLI Administration team and the Graduate School.  

Halls 

The University Executive Board (UEB) has agreed to extend the accommodation fee waiver until the 17 May, in line with government directions and the University's previous actions. Students who are not currently in residence and who do not plan to return to their term-time hall room before the 17 May will shortly be contacted to complete a form to apply for the waiver. As before, there are also existing assistance programmes in place within the University should students find themselves in difficulty. Details of the packages available can be found on Essentials.  

Our halls remain open to students, although they are reminded that government advice is not to return unless they need to be on campus for teaching or the reasons set out above. 

Catering 

Some of our catering facilities reopened for takeaway from Monday 12 April. Outdoor tables are available at Park House, The Dairy, Eat at the Square and Park Eat. Park Eat must be booked in advance through the Catering website.  

Please be aware that the government has brought in new rules for hospitality venues. All visitors (not just one per household) are now required to check in with the NHS COVID-19 app, or by providing their name and contact details. Venues must refuse entry if visitors decline to do this. 

Visit the hospitality website for more information on individual catering outlets' opening times. 

As well as the Marketplace at Park Eat, the Co-Op is also reopening from 14 April.  

RUSU 

The catering outlets and shops at RUSU will reopen for the start of the summer term, including takeaway food from Mojo's, with additional outdoor seating provided. All RUSU advice services will continue to be provided online and the nursery remains open. For further information visit RUSU's website.  

SportsPark 

The SportsPark reopened on Monday 12 April for individual exercise. Members will be able to pre-book their gym sessions, individual workout spaces and courts via the SportsPark website, and must exercise alone or with members of their household. Group exercise activities will commence from Monday 17 May, subject to the government roadmap. Face coverings must be worn in communal areas of the SportsPark but can be removed when exercising in the gym. 

Health & Safety and lateral flow tests

While we welcome these easing of restrictions, we must not become complacent. We know from past experience how quickly situations can change, so it is wise to be careful and ensure the correct steps are taken to minimise any ongoing risks. 

Please continue to carefully observe the existing advice - regular hand-washing, maintaining a distance from other people and wearing face coverings have all proved key and effective in reducing transmission.  

Colleagues and students on campus are strongly encouraged to take a free lateral flow test twice a week, either at the SportsPark or by ordering a home test online.  

Students are encouraged to take a test before travelling back to university, either through local community testing or by ordering a test online. On returning to university, students are recommended to take three lateral flow tests at an on-site testing facility (3-4 days apart). They can then continue with recommended twice weekly tests at the on-campus site or via home testing if they prefer.

As ever, we will continue to monitor the government advice and the national situation, and we will update our current plans if needed. Please keep an eye on your email and the Staff Portal for any important updates. We will also keep the Staff Portal COVID-19 FAQs updated with the latest information and advice.  

If you have any queries, please speak to your line manager in the first instance. You can also contact our COVID-19 Support Hotline on covid-hotline@reading.ac.uk

Best wishes, 

Julian & Dominik 

Professor Julian Park & Professor Dominik Zaum 

Major Recovery Team Co-Chairs 

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