Monday 9 March 2020

All staff email

Dear colleagues

I am sure that, as I am, you are following the situation regarding Covid-19 (coronavirus) closely.

As you may know the Prime Minister is convening a meeting of the COBRA committee today (the Government committee charged with managing the situation). COBRA will assess the latest information and review the current threat level and consider whether additional policies are required. As a result of this or later meetings of COBRA we may see further, or different, advice being issued to the general public and to institutions such as schools and universities.

Contingency planning and information dissemination

In order to be in a position to respond to possible changes in advice we have set up two groups to put contingency plans for the University in place so we can deal with a range of possible scenarios. The Covid-19 Contingency Coordination Group is being led by the Deputy Registrar, Heidi Fraser-Krauss, and the Academic Covid-19 Contingency Group is being led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost, Professor Saul Tendler.

As the situation is fast-moving we have created a new set of webpages to act as the ‘single source of official information’ which can found via a link on our website homepage www.york.ac.uk/coronavirus. All of the most up to date guidance and other information will be published on these pages as they are issued.

The pages also include FAQs for staff and students based on the enquiries received so far and these will continue to be added to as the situation evolves. We know that there is a lot of misinformation circulating about Covid-19 so please refer to these pages and the official sites linked to from these pages for accurate information and updates.

Events

There have been a number of enquiries with regard to whether planned events, seminars, conferences, or short courses, organised by University of York staff, should go ahead. The University’s policy is to adhere to official advice and guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). As of today, 9 March, there has been no change to the official advice from these sources with regard to events and gatherings.

Against that background the Contingency Coordination Group has agreed that decisions on cancelling any event should be at the discretion of the organiser. The organiser should base their decision on whether or not to cancel on an assessment of whether significant numbers of delegates or visitors are cancelling their attendance. There is little point in continuing to plan or host an event if low attendance is likely to impact on its purpose, quality, and usefulness.

In taking a decision to cancel, colleagues should also pay due regard to any insurance implications. To date insurance companies are also adhering to official government guidance and have said they will not refund any payments for costs incurred for facilities bookings or travel. This may change, and if it does, we will post any further updates on our website.

Out-bound staff travel

Staff out-bound travel plans were also discussed by the Contingency Coordination Group as there have also been a number of enquiries about whether planned travel should go ahead. Again, the University is adhering to FCO safe travel guidance.

Given this is a fast moving situation, however, I would strongly encourage colleagues to make a rigorous assessment on whether planned international travel is essential. I would also remind colleagues to assess the risk of not being able to return from any international travel if official advice changes.

Information sharing

The University Covid-19 web pages will continue to be the main source of new information as and when it becomes available, and we will also use email as our primary channel of communication with staff and students.

However, as part of our contingency planning, we are also asking all staff and students to ensure we have their most up to date mobile and home telephone numbers so that, if we need to alert people to any significant Government policy changes, we can quickly contact you. I would be extremely grateful if you can log on to myview to check that information held there is correct, or update telephone contact information details if missing.

I know that people are concerned but it is important that we remain calm and continue to adhere to our collegiate principles. I and other senior colleagues are in close contact with the health authorities and we are also working with our city partners to ensure that in any scenario affecting the city we can respond in a coordinated manner. We are also working with Universities UK and the Russell Group to ensure that the sector’s needs are represented in any national responses to Covid-19.

Best wishes,

Charlie

Professor Charlie Jeffery

Vice-Chancellor

All student email

Dear students

I am sure that, as I am, you are following the situation regarding Covid-19 (coronavirus) closely.

The Prime Minister convened a meeting of the COBRA committee today (the Government committee charged with managing the situation). COBRA will assess the latest information and review the current threat level and consider whether additional policies are required. This and future COBRA meetings may mean we see additional, or different, advice being issued to the general public and to institutions such as schools and universities.

For all information about how Covid-19 affects your study at the University of York, please refer to our University’s Coronavirus web pages. We will post all of the latest guidance and news updates, as they are issued, and you’ll find a series of FAQs for staff and students based on the enquiries received so far. We will continue to add to these as the situation evolves.

Contingency planning and communication

To respond quickly to possible changes in advice we have set up two contingency planning groups to look at how the University can deal with a range of possible scenarios. The Covid-19 Contingency Coordination Group is being led by the Deputy Registrar, Heidi Fraser-Krauss, and the Academic Covid-19 Contingency Group is being led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost, Professor Saul Tendler. It’s important to stress that while we are planning for different scenarios, none of these may actually happen.

We will use email as our primary channel of communication with staff and students. However, as part of our contingency planning, we are also asking all staff and students to ensure we have their most up to date mobile and home telephone numbers so that, if we need to alert people to any significant changes, or we can quickly contact you. We would be extremely grateful if you can log on to E-vision to check your current contact details are correct or enter these numbers if missing.

We know that this is a fast moving situation and that people are concerned - we remain in close contact with the health authorities and we are also working with our city partners to ensure that in any scenario we can respond in a coordinated manner. We are also working with Universities UK and the Russell Group to ensure that the sector’s needs are represented in any national responses to Coronavirus.

Best wishes

Charlie