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MRT update: Government announcement to delay Roadmap Step 4

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

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday the government announced a delay of at least four weeks before further COVID-19 restrictions will be eased. It has been confirmed that the current guidance to work from home where possible continues to apply.

For us here at the University of Reading, this means no immediate changes to the working arrangements currently in place.

The safety and wellbeing of our community is still our main priority. As such, all existing Health and Safety control measures remain in place – including 2 metre distancing in all indoor spaces on campus (including offices). The exception to this is teaching spaces which are operating at ‘1m+’, based on the additional control measures in place.

Our policy on face coverings also remains unchanged and all colleagues working on campus must complete the necessary online induction modules.

All meetings should continue to be held online in the first instance, until at least the start of the autumn term. A sub-group of the Major Recovery Team (MRT) has been convened to explore how we may be able to safely facilitate in-person meetings, where there is a particular need or requirement to do so. We will keep you updated when we can share more.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, the MRT will periodically review these arrangements, particularly when the government publish updated guidance for workplaces, and we will let you know if any changes need to be made.

If you have any queries about what this means for you and your role, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.

Phased transition to more on-campus working

As summarised in last week’s Staff Portal article, when government guidance about working from home changes, we are planning for a phased transition to more on-campus working this summer. We are working closely with Heads of School and Function to provide advice and guidance to inform their planning.

Looking further ahead to the start of the autumn term, we hope to be able to see a closer return to pre-pandemic levels of staff on campus, although with formal arrangements in place to support a more flexible approach where this is identified for teams or individuals in consultation with their line manager. Our ‘Ways of Working’ project will continue to consider the longer-term use of technology and space to support better hybrid working in the future and will be making recommendations by the autumn.

Our strong campus community is an important part of our identity, and we know from conversations with colleagues and students that this has been something we have all missed over the past year. As a student-focussed and research-intensive institution, having a strong presence on campus is integral to the delivery of many of our activities, and is also beneficial for all to develop and strengthen networks and collaborative working.

We therefore very much look forward to welcoming more colleagues and students back when it is safe and possible to do so.

Protecting our community

The recent increase in cases, despite positive progress with the vaccination programme, is a reminder of the threat the pandemic continues to present.

Everyone in England – particularly colleagues and students on campus – is strongly encouraged to take a lateral flow test twice a week, even if you have had one or both doses of the vaccine.

If you are eligible for the PCR ‘surge testing’ in Reading and Wokingham, please do participate before this comes to an end on Sunday 20 June.

Remember, if you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate and get a PCR test straight away through the government website, and not by visiting one of the ‘surge testing’ sites.

If you test positive, from any type of test, please let your line manager know as soon as possible so we can support you and your University close contacts.

Looking out for other symptoms

Research has shown different symptoms linked with the new ‘Delta’ variant.

Public Health England (PHE) have previously advised that some of the less-common, ‘early symptoms’ may include loss of appetite; diarrhoea; nausea/vomiting; extreme tiredness; headaches; joint pain; muscle ache; runny nose; sore throat; sneezing; altered consciousness; seizures.

You do not need to self-isolate or get a PCR test if you experience these without any of the main three COVID-19 symptoms. However, it is important to pay particular attention if you experience any of these. If you feel unwell with any of the ‘early symptoms’, we recommend that you:

  • monitor the symptoms closely, limit contact with others by staying at home as much as possible, and pay extra attention to cleaning any shared areas after use;

and

We hope this information is helpful and we look forward to seeing many of you at tomorrow’s briefing session for all colleagues on ‘What COVID-19 related changes on 21 June mean for us’ at 11am.

Best wishes,

Julian & Dominik

 

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