The University's approach to living with Covid-19
First of all, we would like to thank all of the University’s staff and students for their resilience and commitment throughout the last two years of the pandemic. Across the whole University community, everyone has contributed in their own way to make sure that students are taught and supported and that research and essential operations continued.
From 1 April, national guidance has been significantly simplified and focusses on the country living with Covid and managing it in the same way as any other respiratory infection. Access to free Covid testing for the general public has ended, with symptomatic and asymptomatic testing no longer required for most people. Free Covid testing is now targeted towards the most vulnerable and those working in NHS and Social Care. People with symptoms associated with a respiratory infection, are asked to exercise personal responsibility to help reduce the spread of infection.
If you are unwell and likely to have an infectious disease, including those with symptoms associated with a respiratory infection– then please don’t come to campus and do be considerate of your colleagues. Please speak to your line manager, as you would for any other absence.
Please refer to the below sections for a summary of key changes and updates.
Given the previous high rate of positive cases across the City of Birmingham and nationally, we have been taking a cautious approach and continued to provide home test kits (Lateral Flow Kits) whilst our stocks remained. Collection from the Aston Webb Student Hub and main Medical School reception will continue on campus until Easter, or until we run out of stock, whichever occurs sooner.
As Covid-19 is no longer a notifiable disease, and following discussions with City public health colleagues, as of today, there is no longer a requirement for staff and students to separately report a positive test result to the University. If you are unwell and unable to work, please report via your line manager in the usual way.
Vaccination has been the most important tool in getting back to normal and if you are still not fully vaccinated then we would strongly encourage you to complete the course – including the booster jab.
Find a local vaccination site, including local walk-in options
We will continue to work with the NHS to offer drop-in vaccination clinics on the Edgbaston campus for as long as they are useful and are seeing take-up amongst staff and students.
Signage and face coverings
Over Easter we will be removing the Covid related signage across campus. Wearing a face covering will continue to be a personal choice and we would ask that everyone is respectful and understanding of those choices. In accordance with national guidance, protective measures, including good ventilation, cleaning and facilities to support good hand hygiene will remain in place.
Building risk assessments will now revert to standard building risk assessments and work is underway on a generic community based infectious diseases building risk assessment. This is based on the new Government Guidance: Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and Education Health Protection Guidance and includes some of the control measures we introduced for Covid-19 which will also help us reduce other respiratory infections and infectious diseases as well.
Staff with Covid-related absence will continue to receive sick pay in the same way as they would for any other sickness absence. In addition, the University has agreed to continue to exclude Covid-related absences as a potential trigger for sickness management for a further period until June in order to provide a transition into the new national approach to living with Covid. The anticipation is that this approach will be reviewed at the end of June. Staff are encouraged to speak to their line manager or HR lead in the first instance if they have any queries about this.
As mentioned above, if you are unwell and likely to have an infectious disease, including those with symptoms associated with respiratory infection – then please don’t come to campus.
Teaching and Assessment
We will continue to deliver face-to-face teaching and our full range of teaching and learning activity in the usual way. When considering reasonable adjustments for students, Covid-19 will be incorporated into the existing process and treated similarly to other related illness.
All on-campus research will continue in line with the approach in this message, taking into account any specific research risk assessments that may be in place.
Current hybrid working arrangements will continue and can be found in our hybrid working framework that was introduced last summer. This framework is being reviewed, informed by the experience of operating the policy over the last year, and any adaptions will be considered by UEB after Easter and announced in the summer. Please speak to your line manager and Head of School/Senior Officer if you have any queries about the requirements for your role and area of work.
Advice regarding international travel is changing on a frequent basis. Individuals are therefore advised to check the latest government travel advice for their destination country.
Before travelling abroad, individuals should:
- Check the rules and advice for the country or territory they are considering going to, ensuring they check the advice for each country if a multi destination trip is being planned
- Find out what the requirements are for return to the UK.
- Book any tests or quarantine hotel packages needed.
It is important to check foreign travel advice prior to travelling to find out whether:
- the UK government advises against all but essential travel to the places you want to travel to
- the country or territory you want to go to will allow people from England to enter
- you need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter, or quarantine when you arrive
Government advice regarding foreign travel and entry in and out of the UK can change frequently as a consequence of Covid-19. As such, any staff who are required to travel abroad for work reasons are advised to refer to the latest Government guidance regarding travel abroad, in order to determine the requirements for entering their destination country and return travel to the UK.
You should take all the relevant advice into account and seek the agreement of your School or Budget Centre before deciding to travel. The University does not support travel (other than on an exceptional basis after a risk assessment) to red list country for work-related purposes.
Staff are able, on an exceptional basis, to carry over a maximum of 10 days annual leave into the 2021/2022 leave year.
Framework for Hybrid Working (Word - 27Kb)
Covid-related absence (Word 27Kb)