Thursday 18 February 2021

All staff email

Covid-19 update ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement

Dear colleagues,

I hope this email finds you well.

I am writing with an update ahead of the Government’s announcement on Monday 22 February, which will detail the roadmap for coming out of lockdown.

Today, we have emailed taught students with a reminder of our plans and some of the support on offer.

This includes reiterating that the Government does not plan to lift restrictions on educational settings in England until at least Monday 8 March, assuming universities are included alongside schools.

It also looks ahead to the Summer Term, as well as the role of testing as an important element of resuming more in-person activity on campuses. We have set up a very comprehensive capability now, available on both Campus West and Campus East, to support the need to get tested regularly (I too am taking a test twice a week).

Speculation about Monday’s announcement will continue, but we know it is likely that the lifting of the lockdown will be phased, and that the Prime Minister will ease restrictions gradually. I am sure we are all keen to know what the easing of restrictions will mean for meeting with friends and family, socialising and travel as well as for our work at the University. I hope we will see a clear plan for the months ahead which will give us confidence that this will be the last lockdown.

In the meantime, many of our colleagues have reported good progress on the vaccine rollout amongst those of our family and friends in the most vulnerable groups. You may have read in the media that the Government has decided to extend shielding to those who are assessed as being at higher risk. If you receive a letter from the NHS asking you to shield, and you are unable to work from home, please contact and we will discuss the option of furlough with you.

Finally, for those who haven’t yet had a chance, you can catch up on my update to staff and the follow-up Q and A session, which covers a range of topics. We’ve timestamped my replies so you can choose what you’d like to focus on. The most popular are working from home and our sense of community, workload, staff levels and wellbeing and the support for flexible working during lockdown.

And for our PGRs, don’t forget the deadline tomorrow - Friday 19 February - for the second round of Covid-19 PhD Scholarship Fund, as well as a reminder of the Postgraduate Research Writing-up+ Support Fund, which provides financial support for PGRs who are within their writing-up period or who have an extension to their studies during this period. This funding is available until 31 May.

I will email again next week once we have had the opportunity to absorb the new guidance and understand how it impacts on our plans for the next weeks and months.

Best wishes,