Thursday 15 October 2020

All Student and PGR email

COVID-19 update: City of York changes

This email is for UG and PGT students and for the information of PGR students.

Dear students,

With news of Government guidance for different areas of the UK starting this week, and the announcement today that York will move to level two - High Risk from 00:01 hrs (midnight) on Saturday 17 October, I wanted to share some information with you about this new status for York and any implications this might have for our students.

From 4.45pm to 5.45pm today (Thursday 15 October), I will be hosting a webinar - jointly with YUSU and GSA - to discuss these latest developments and answer any questions you may have. Please join us if you receive this message in time, and I look forward to speaking with you then.

COVID-19 level for the City of York

The Government has announced a new three-level system to help tackle the rise in coronavirus cases in some areas of England. Risk levels are set at medium, high, and very high.

The new system places York as ‘high risk’, and aligns York with other parts of northern England and the Midlands, but also London and other parts of South East England which are also joining Level 2.

This means that people living in the York area now have additional restrictions in place on top of all previous medium risk measures.

It is important you read, understand and abide by the full list of restrictions in place for high risk areas. In summary (and taken from the Government information page) these include;

  • You must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

  • You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)

  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law

  • Certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am

  • Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees

  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport

  • You can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

In addition to the above:

  • Always follow the hands, face, space advice: Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering (unless you’re exempt) in shops, on public transport, and in University buildings, and maintain the correct level of social distancing at all times.

  • ‘Household’ is defined as a single flat, hall, or domestic residence

  • You must stick to your household when socialising indoors

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate immediately and for the full 10 days - let us know that you’re self-isolating, and we’ll make sure you have the support you need

  • If you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace or by the University asking you to self-isolate, please do so, immediately and for the full 14 days.

The impact of the change in risk level on social venues and student activities is still being worked through in detail, and we will tell you more about any changes to how things will run as soon as we have any new information. We are confident that we will still be able to provide safe on campus venue spaces with only minor changes to how we welcome students.

We are working closely with the City in all of these matters. We joined the City Council for a Facebook Live session last night, with YUSU and GSA, which had a special university focus. Questions included plans for Christmas, support for students and how we are responding to the increasing number of cases. You can watch this again via the Council’s Facebook page.

Face-to-face teaching continues

Cases have continued to rise in York, but at this point the tracking data suggests that the spread of infection is being triggered by household interactions and social activities, rather than the workplace or educational settings, which offers us reassurance that the safety measures we have in place on campus allow us to continue with teaching as we have been.

The new three-level national system is different to the UK Department for Education Tiers for teaching and learning.

Our teaching Tier status, as explained in my last message to you, remains at Tier 1, meaning we continue to deliver a blend of face-to-face and digital teaching. We have also taken the decision to continue to offer all large lectures online for the full academic year to facilitate the safe delivery of in-person teaching in smaller l groups. Remember too that excellent study skills support services are there to support students on and off campus. I would encourage you to explore our new Academic Skills Community to support your academic, language and interpersonal skills development.

Working together for a safer community

I must emphasise that it is up to all of us in the community to work together and make sure that the City is not moved to the highest risk level, which could mean even tighter restrictions on our day-to-day activities and ability to travel.

We can still visit the City, and enjoy our restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. However with the new restrictions you can only do so in a social group of up to 6 people from your household group when indoors, and in a group of up to 6 people outside (which may include people outside your household), including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks. We must continue to follow the health and safety guidelines within the home, halls of residence, in our teaching and learning settings, and when out in the community.

Please remember to visit the COVID-19 pages for the latest news and guidance from the University. Following this will make all the difference in keeping people safe and preventing further lockdown restrictions in our area.

I hope you are keeping well and that you are enjoying your studies so far this term.

Keep safe.

Best wishes,

Charlie

Charlie Jeffery

Vice-Chancellor