Monday 26 July 2021

PGT students email

Subject: Our approach to the lifting of restrictions

Dear PGTs,

As the UK Stage 4 transition out of lockdown continues, I am writing to our whole community - including our staff, undergraduates, postgraduate taught students and postgraduate researchers - about what this will mean for us.

While the easing of restrictions means that some safety measures will no longer be a legal requirement, we know many people remain concerned. We are all coming to this situation with very different viewpoints, concerns and expectations.

We continue to assess the situation thoroughly and we will maintain careful safety measures across campus. Overall, we are taking a precautionary approach to our plans for over the Summer and beyond.

Your personal situation

We know that many of you are at different stages of your course, which will impact how you view the changes and removal of restrictions.

PGTs in York over the Summer

For PGTs who are in York and accessing facilities, including specialist teaching spaces or study spaces over the summer, I would like to thank you in advance for your patience as we adapt our campus.

We have made it clear that we do not expect staff and students to return immediately from this week, and neither will our arrangements on campus change overnight. I know some of you are on practical courses, completing placements, and/or continuing with your dissertation, and we will gradually start to see more and more people on campus. We will maintain many of our safety measures across campus, and continue using the booking system to book space in the Library and to access laboratory space and other specialist facilities.

We have updated our policy on face coverings, which strongly recommends that you consider the welfare of other members of the University community by continuing to wear a face covering in busy indoor spaces on campus.

If you are currently studying PGT courses remotely

For all our current learners studying remotely, I hope you and your families are keeping safe. We are enabling online study to continue for the remainder of your studies with us. This will include supervision meetings as well, as needed.

We know there is still a lot of complexity around travel restrictions, especially for our international students. For students who wish to, and are able to join us in York, you can find more detail about the support that we are able to offer students facing travel restrictions on our dedicated Covid-19 website.

Next term: life on campus

For those of you continuing and planning to be in York from September, I want to outline a bit more about what life on campus will feel like. We need to support the welfare and safety of our community without social distancing, so we will still need to manage aspects of daily life carefully.

In particular, we are strongly encouraging face coverings, and testing will remain an important part of day-to-day life. Vaccinations will be key, and we will continue to offer the successful campus testing and vaccination centres, which have proved so valuable.

Please make testing part of your routine as you return to campus - over the summer and during next term - and please do take the opportunity to get your vaccination if you are able, wherever and whenever you are offered it. All students, whatever their home country, are eligible for vaccines in the UK.

We plan to return to in-person teaching in September in all academic departments, though some teaching may be online to support international students unable to get to York for the start of term. We are hoping that as many students as possible will be here on campus by November at the latest. However if travel restrictions are still impacting on your ability to get here we will try to be as flexible as we can be with the possibility that you can continue to access online learning. Your Department will be in contact with you with further details on arrangements for specific programmes.

In addition, I can confirm we will be keeping assessments online for all students (with some limited exceptions). This will enable us to minimise disruption to everyone, should there be any changes to distancing or isolation requirements over the assessment period.

How we respond as a community

The UK Government direction - of moving away from legal restrictions to making informed decisions - places a lot of emphasis on personal responsibility, and with that how we act together as a University community. That sense of community has been a real strength of York over the last 18 months, and will continue to be important in the months ahead. Above all, we need to be supportive and considerate of one another to adapt to the latest situation, and work together with empathy and respect.

We must also remain mindful that the start of term is a little way off. Should the Government’s guidance change in any way between now and the end of September, we will of course continue to keep you informed. Thank you for helping us all to look after each other.

Best wishes,

Charlie