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COVID update: what's changing from 17 May

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This message from Professor Julian Park and Professor Dominik Zaum, Co-Chairs of the Major Recovery Team, was sent to all University colleagues earlier today

Dear colleagues,

Following the government announcement on 10 May, we are sharing further information on how the further easing of lockdown restrictions (Step 3 on the Roadmap) will impact our community. This email will shortly be sent to all students.

Teaching on campus

The Prime Minister confirmed that, from 17 May, all students will be permitted to return to campus for the remainder of the summer term if they have not done so already.

While formal teaching for many programmes has finished for the year, with the summer term focused on exams and assessments, a small number of additional sessions on campus have been scheduled. Timetables have been updated accordingly for students and colleagues.

Any teaching on campus this term will continue to be subject to the ‘1m+' social distancing control measure, as agreed by the Major Recovery Team (MRT), with face coverings expected to be worn in classrooms and lecture theatres.

Our Greenlands campus will also reopen from Monday 17 May for face-to-face teaching sessions, along with the hotel, conference facilities and fitness centre.

Working from home

In Monday’s announcement, the Prime Minister confirmed that the current advice to work from home wherever possible will remain in place until at least mid-June.

All colleagues should therefore continue to work from home unless you cannot do so effectively, and you have permission from your Head of School or Function to work on campus. Where the further easing of lockdown restrictions requires additional colleagues to work on campus, your line manager will discuss these arrangements with you. Everyone working on campus should make sure they have completed the COVID-19 modules on UoR Learn.  

The safety of our colleagues and our students is our priority. We anticipate that while legal restrictions on things such as social gatherings may be lifted from 21 June, measures to control the potential spread of COVID-19 in a work setting will still be required and government guidance on social distancing and/or recommendations around wearing face coverings in the workplace may continue. We will monitor this carefully and listen to you. This means, as an institution, we may choose to keep some control measures in place, or introduce new ones, even if this is not a government requirement.

Research 

If access to facilities is required for their research, colleagues and research students can work on 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 external visitors to campus can continue where the activity cannot be reasonably conducted remotely, subject to appropriate risk assessments and with Head of School approval.  

Lateral flow testing

Regular asymptomatic testing continues to be important to keep case numbers low nationally. Colleagues and students on campus are strongly encouraged to take a lateral flow test twice a week at the SportsPark. Anyone in England can also pick up home test kits from their local pharmacy, or order kits for quick home delivery from the government website.

 

We are currently setting up collection points on campus for students and colleagues to be able to pick up a pack of test kits to use at home and we will provide further details soon.

Campus facilities

In line with the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions, we are pleased to announce the re-opening or extended opening of a number of facilities from Monday 17 May. 

Catering 

Indoor bar and dining seating areas will re-open at Park Eat, Park House, Ice House and The Dairy. Visit the hospitality website for more information on individual catering outlets’ opening times. 

All visitors are required to check in with the NHS COVID-19 app, or by providing their name and contact details. Venues will refuse entry if visitors decline to do this. 

The international food market will also be returning to campus on Thursday 27 May, 3 and 10 June.

 

RUSU 

In addition to the services which have already re-opened, Café Mondial and Starbucks will open for indoor and outdoor seating. Mojo’s and Monterey will re-open indoors, and Mojo’s on the Meadow will increase its provision from Monday 24 May for a three-week period to include a range of events and activities. Visit RUSU’s website for more information.

SportsPark 

Indoor sports and group exercise classes will commence from Monday 17 May. Face coverings must be worn in communal areas of the SportsPark but can be removed when exercising in the gym. You must continue to pre-book your gym session, individual workout spaces and courts via the SportsPark website.

Library and study space 

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. 

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 are also open for drop-in queries and support – for all students, regardless of their programme of study.

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.  

Keeping us all safe

We will review our existing health and safety arrangements following the latest advice from the government and will let you know if we make any changes to current arrangements.

Please remember that getting tested regularly, as well as taking the recommended precautions (hand washing, wearing face coverings, and maintaining a distance from others) will help continue to protect us all.

Vaccination programme in the UK

In line with advice from the National Health Service and the World Health Organisation, we recommend that colleagues who can be vaccinated should do so when offered a vaccine.   

If you feel you should have been offered a vaccination based on the current eligible groups, but you haven’t been contacted yet, please speak to your GP for further advice. You can also enter your NHS number on the NHS website, now and in the coming months, to check when you become eligible to book a vaccine.

International students who live in the UK and are registered with a General Practitioner (GP) will be able to access COVID-19 vaccinations when they are contacted to do so.

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

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