Friday 25 September 2020

All students email

COVID-19 and start of Autumn term

Dear student,

Each Autumn, we welcome over 20,000 students to campus. This accounts for 10% of the total population of York. As such, our students make quite an impact and contribute to the liveliness and diversity of the City.

However, the pandemic has had a significant effect on all aspects of our lives. You may have seen media reports of significant outbreaks of COVID-19, and subsequently even more restrictions, at other universities this past week. As our term gathers pace, we all have a part to play in taking our responsibilities seriously and in keeping our community a safe place to live, work and study.

You may be watching closely the COVID-19 situation here in York. We are closely monitoring the situation and are in daily liaison with the local Public Health Team. At the moment our City continues to have lower infection rates than other parts of the UK.

We need to do all we can to keep it that way. If we do not all play our part and follow the guidelines, there is a risk that COVID-19 rates will rise and that the restrictions we face could be increased. This could then impact on elements of your student experience, such as the amount of face-to-face teaching we can deliver safely, sport, clubs, campus-based events and socialising, and we may even see tighter restrictions on households mixing.

Last week we wrote to you about staying smart, supportive and safe. This week, we are asking you to complete our online COVID-19 Community Safety Module which is compulsory for all students who will be studying with the University on-campus. Sign into the Yorkshare VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) with your University username and password and you’ll find it in the Modules box.

The module gives clear information and advice about keeping up-to-date with government, local and University guidance. It explains the covid-secure measures put in place by the University and it details what we expect from you and the responsibilities that we would like you to take seriously.

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for each of us to follow the rules and guidance:

  • Be respectful and sensitive to others (students, staff, neighbours, public)

  • Keep two metres away from people who are not part of your household

  • Do not host or attend house parties (on or off campus)

  • No more than six people from different households can meet up (indoors or outdoors)

  • Wash your hands or use sanitiser regularly

  • Wear a face covering in communal enclosed spaces (unless you’re exempt).

We know that the vast majority of our students have a strong sense of community and will do all they can to protect others. That’s why our focus is on building a clear and shared understanding, as well as creating and managing COVID-secure social spaces on campus.

We also know that most of you will already be following the guidance, and we know the rules are restrictive. This isn’t easy, so thank you. The more we all follow the rules, the less likely we are to see further restrictions.

Any student, however, who does not follow the rules - many of which now have legal force - may find themselves facing University disciplinary action including sanctions ranging from warnings up to exclusion from the University. And, as we have seen in the media, the police have been issuing penalties to students who don’t comply with government restrictions. This includes fines for those who breach legal limits on social gatherings.

So, I urge you to complete the online module and to follow all the COVID-19 guidelines to the letter. Doing so will protect not just you, but those in the community around you. Let’s all stay smart, supportive and safe.

This is a difficult time, but we are here to support you.

Best wishes,

Charlie Jeffery