Phased campus reopening
Since June 2020, the University commenced a phased approach to reopening campus, guided by a set of principles and safe working measures informed by government guidance and medical advice. The new Academic Year began with with a bimodal approach to teaching and blended approach to working on campus and at home. However, December’s National Lockdown has meant that we’ve had to retighten access to campus.
The University is open only to support students already resident, to facilitate teaching, including face-to-face teaching for those on a defined number of exempt programmes (medicine, allied health, teacher training and social care), and to sustain research (including for PGR students) requiring specialist facilities, including libraries. With the exemption of the programmes listed above, teaching will be online only until at least 8 March.
The government guidance is that everyone who can work from home must do so. For those who need to be on campus, here are the range of measures that we have in place to help keep our community safe:
- Test, Trace and Protect
- Social distancing
- Risk assessments
- Wearing face coverings
- Local and national restrictions
Test, Trace and Protect
Particularly important in keeping our community safe is the University's own Test, Trace and Protect process. The Test, Trace, Protect process complements the NHS and Public Health England process and includes measures to ensure that students and staff understand the symptoms and when and how to get tested alongside a proactive programme of identifying and contacting anyone who might have come into ‘close contact’ with a confirmed case of COVID-19 on campus.
The Asymptomatic Testing Site, located on campus in the Great Hall, offers rapid lateral flow testing for students and staff until the end of February. Staff who may have already had one or two tests can continue to access the site every week for ongoing testing if they are regularly on campus for work. Additional testing is also being provided for students who have returned to campus – those who are continuing in-person teaching in line with government guidance, and also students who do not have access to appropriate alternative accommodation, facilities or study space, those that have returned for personal wellbeing reasons, or who have remained on campus over Christmas.
The Test Site in the Great Hall is open twice a week, every Monday and Thursday from 9.00am to 5.00 pm and you can book a test appointment here. It is easy to book an appointment and the whole process takes around 15 minutes. We will be monitoring and reviewing demand on a regular basis so that we can adapt opening hours and days as and when more capacity is needed. Only those staff working on campus some or all of the time should book a test.
The lateral flow tests are for those who don’t have symptoms but who may be infectious at the time of testing. This type of test is very good at identifying people who have high levels of the virus, and are infectious on the day and is most effective when you get tested regularly, at least once a week, or twice a week if you are on campus more often. Regular LFT testing, when combined with following government guidance, will allow us to mitigate the risk of on-campus transmission, and therefore it’s really important that staff who are returning to campus get tested at least once a week, or twice a week if they are on campus frequently.
To support staff working at our Selly Oak site, lateral flow testing will be available at the George Cadbury Hall from Friday 12 February and then every Tuesday and Friday, 8.30am – 12.30pm for staff working on the Selly Oak campus who, due to their working pattern or setting, are unable to attend the Great Hall site. Staff based on the Selly Oak campus can book a test slot via their line manager. Staff able to book and attend the Great Hall site should continue to do so.
Social distancing measures
We have implemented a wide range of social distancing measures across campus, including one way systems around parts of campus and buildings, distancing signage, changes to the way in which you enter and leave buildings and spaces, seating restrictions, new capacity limits for every room, lab and lecture theatre, as well as more hand sanitising stations throughout buildings. The video below will give you a flavour of what has changed.
As part of this approach all buildings must have a COVID Risk Assessment and all mitigations must be in place before the building is allowed to open. Copies of all the Risk Assessments are available to view. You can also find copies of the building reopening plans below.
In addition, all staff should have a conversation with their line manager about returning to work on campus.
Wearing face coverings
The University has mandated the wearing of face coverings on campus wherever it is not possible to maintain at two metre distance from other people. All staff and students will be provided with a free, branded washable face covering at the start of Semester one. For staff and students who are exempt from wearing face coverings we have signed up to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme. All staff and students are also expected to wear their ID at all times when on campus.
Local and National Restrictions
We recognise that the national and local restrictions to contain COVID-19 may change and we have plans in place to enable us to respond quickly, safely and effectively to any changes that may affect staff, students and campus more generally. You can find all the latest information along with some FAQs for staff and students on our National Restrictions webpage.
If you have further questions about the phased campus reopening, please visit our FAQs