Tuesday 24 March 2020

All student email

Covid-19 update Tuesday 24 March - health and wellbeing, accommodation, support fund and online teaching

Dear students

Thank you for your continued patience as we work through the details of our response to the Covid-19 crisis. And thank you too for the understanding you have already shown for the changes we are having to make.

Last night, the UK Government gave clear advice about how we can all help to respond to the crisis. This includes: a clear instruction to stay at home except for a number of tightly specified activities, including essential basic shopping for food and medical supplies, adhering to social distancing rules, and banning all social gatherings of more than 2 people.

I appreciate many of you will have questions and concerns, both about these new measures, but also about how we are moving to online teaching and assessment for the summer term. I address some of these issues below, and you should continue to visit our Covid-19 webpages for further information. I also have updates below about our ongoing support for our now dispersed community of students, and rent instalments for the summer term.

Keeping safe

We are proud that York students are such an important part of our compassionate, caring community. I encourage you all to continue to support your family and friends during this difficult time. The latest UK Government advice makes it very clear what we need to do.

The new measures include:

  • Staying at home except for essential trips to shops for basic food items, health reasons, for essential work, or if you are getting supplies to support an older or vulnerable person;
  • Staying 2 metres (6ft) away from other people;
  • Washing your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Advising any British citizens who remain abroad to return to the UK as quickly as possible as airports around the world begin to close down.

This staying at home message makes it even more important that we find new ways of talking, listening to, and supporting one another. I will be back in touch in the next few days with some further ideas about how we can all stay in touch and give that support, working with both YUSU and GSA.

Accommodation and summer term

Our campus accommodation remains open for our students. The college teams will continue to support our residents during these exceptional times. As I wrote to you last week this is a rapidly changing situation - we have already encouraged those of you who can return to their homes to do so. Many of you have chosen to do this already and after last night’s advice from the Government, more of you may wish to consider this option. In light of that we have listened carefully to your concerns about rental agreements and I can now confirm that if you notify the University you wish to cancel your accommodation contract, there will be no charge made from the start of the summer term - Tuesday 14 April.

We will be contacting those with rental agreements with the University with more detailed guidance, including how to notify accommodation teams, financial processes and check out arrangements. This offer of early contract cancellation also applies to students in Student Castle who booked directly through Accommodation Services.

The Student Hub and College teams are also available to provide emotional and wellbeing support and advice for those students remaining on campus or who have accommodation contracts with private providers.

Emergency Student Support Fund (COVID-19)

Through donations from alumni, friends, and supporters of the York Unlimited philanthropic campaign, I am delighted to announce that we are launching the Emergency Student Support Fund. This will provide financial support of up to £500 (per applicant) for students facing unanticipated financial challenges.

Applications will open to students at 5pm Wednesday 25 March 2020 and will close 5pm Wednesday 1 April 2020 (with further dates to be announced). Details of how to apply will soon be available on https://coronavirus.york.ac.uk.

All current students who are fully-registered at the University of York on a degree-awarding (UG/PG/FT and PT) programme are eligible to apply for the Emergency Student Support Fund. Please note that prioritisation will be made on the basis of the student’s individual needs.

I know some of you have also been asking about student loans. The UK Government has assured us that the Student Loans Company (SLC) is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled and that students will continue to receive maintenance payments on the scheduled dates.

Online teaching and assessment

As you can imagine, preparing to move over 18,000 students to a method of online teaching and assessment that will suit their discipline and stage of progression is a huge undertaking. Our aim is to continue to support you in your studies, and help you to progress to the next phase of your programme.

We have been working closely with departments to agree which online platforms will be most suitable to deliver teaching. This also includes the types of alternative assessments that we will need to use to replace closed exams in exam halls, laboratory work, group assignments, and performances.

We are thinking through the different scenarios, assessing the options and testing the technical details. We will be in a position to tell you more very soon, to give you a clearer picture of how your studies will resume at the start of the summer term. We are aiming to provide additional information for students this week, and further updates on areas where we are still working through the details by the end of next week.

Supporting our Students

The health and wellbeing of our students remains an absolute priority. We appreciate this is a worrying and stressful time. Many of you have written to tell us how the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is affecting your studies and your health. We are listening and our student-facing teams are in a position to provide online assistance to support you.

Support teams available to students on and off campus include Open Door, Student Hub, Disability, and Colleges, as well as conduct and respect. You will understand that most of these services now need to be delivered remotely for the safety of staff and students, and in line with the latest Government advice.

We know that students with disabilities have particular concerns and we encourage those with a support plan in place who are concerned about assessments to contact the Disability Team.

More broadly, our academic and college staff, and our colleagues behind the scenes keeping our digital systems up and running, and our accommodation open for those who need it, are making every possible effort to support you on campus or remotely. They are doing an extraordinary job, and I thank them for all their work in these difficult circumstances. However, as the situation evolves, in these unprecedented times, we may need to make changes to the services we can offer or we may need you to do things differently. We will let you know if anything changes.

In the meantime, please continue to contact the Student Hub if you have particular concerns. Our overnight Security team is also available on campus to provide additional support.

The most important thing is to keep yourselves healthy and safe. It is absolutely vital that you follow the guidance provided by the Government and health services of the country where you reside. In the UK, we ask that you keep referring to the latest Government advice and staying at home guidance. If you are self-isolating on campus and you have any queries or concerns please contact the Student Hub.

I will be in contact again in the coming days with further information, but in the meantime, keep checking your emails and the Covid19 webpages for new guidance and updates.

With warm wishes


Charlie

Professor Charlie Jeffery

Vice-Chancellor and President

Email sent to students with a current University accommodation contract

Covid-19 update Tuesday 24 March - student with accommodation contracts

Dear student

We are writing to you as a student with a current accommodation contract with the University or in Student Castle where this has been arranged through the University’s Accommodation Services. Further to the Vice Chancellor’s latest update this email provides further details about arrangements for:

  • on-campus accommodation
  • what to do if you want to end your on-campus accommodation contract early
  • the remaining support available for students who will be staying with us on campus

We can confirm that there will be no charge from the start of the summer term - Tuesday 14 April - for students who have already left or wish to leave their University accommodation.

Terminating your University tenancy agreement early

  • To terminate your University tenancy agreement early and avoid paying accommodation fees next term you must complete a Covid-19 Request to Vacate form (RTV) to notify Accommodation Services that you wish to be released from your tenancy agreement. This includes students in Student Castle who booked directly through Accommodation Services. If you have completed a RTV form previously please re-submit using this new form. A member of the team will process your tenancy release, please be aware that due to a high level of anticipated numbers there may be a delay of up to a week before you receive confirmation of receipt of your request. This should not prevent you from vacating if you are able to do so.
  • For those students who have left or who are vacating campus accommodation, any outstanding balances or credits on accounts will be notified via email, with appropriate arrangements made for students to settle remaining balances or receive refunds for overpayments.
  • For those students intending to vacate their room please remove all property from rooms and shared spaces. Make sure areas are tidied and keys returned to College Receptions (there may be a special box for key collection provided). We know that you may be off campus at the moment and your belongings may be in your rooms, these will remain locked in your room until further notice.

Staying on in campus accommodation

We appreciate that for some of our students the University is currently home and we will continue to support your stay during these exceptional times.

To keep yourself and those around you safe, please be aware of the latest UK Government advice which clearly states what we need to do.

The new measures include:

  • Staying at home except for essential trips to shops for basic food items, health reasons, for essential work (‘work that absolutely cannot be done from home’), or if you are getting supplies to support an older or vulnerable person;
  • Staying 2 metres (6ft) away from other people;
  • Washing your hands as soon as you get home;
  • Advising any British citizens who remain abroad to return to the UK as quickly as possible as airports around the world begin to close down.

Because of these new measures we have had to take further action to protect staff and students on campus this includes closing our catering facilities. On campus NISA shops remain open for students to purchase essential supplies.

Students self isolating and definition of a ‘household’

Please remember that if you share a kitchen, bathroom or communal area with other students, for the purposes of self-isolation, this is classed as a household and you must therefore adhere to Public Health England advice on self-isolation as a household.

If you need to self -isolate please inform the University using the self-isolation form - see the Student Hub webpage for more details. You will be contacted by the Student Hub team to check on your wellbeing and to see if you need any additional support whilst self-isolating. Your academic department will be informed and your College Teams will also follow up with you to check how you are doing. Please remember if one person in your shared household is self-isolating due to illness, then all other members of your household must also self-isolate for 14 days.

Students who have already left campus accommodation

Given the new Government restrictions, the advice for students who have already left their University accommodation has been updated:

  • Please do not come back to campus to collect belongings, this is no longer allowed.
  • If you have left belongings in your room this will not mean you have to pay rent next term. Your belongings will remain safe and locked in your room until other arrangements can be made.
  • For students who are already left but still have keys, please mail your keys back to your college reception, making sure you include a note stating your name and room number.

Ongoing student support

Student Support teams including Open Door and Disability, Student Hub, Security, Colleges, conduct and respect are still available to students on and off campus, although these services are being delivered remotely for the safety of staff and students, and due to Government advice to remain at home. The security team also remains on campus 24/7 but with a reduced service to keep the campus safe for you. You should also remember to use the campus safe zone app if you need to quickly contact our security team. Contact Security if you need immediate assistance:

For non-emergency contacts:

  • Call 01904 32 4444 (or 4444 on campus phones),
  • email:security-control-room@york.ac.uk

For emergency Security contact:

  • Call 01904 32 3333 or freephone 0800 43 3333
  • 3333 on campus phones
  • SafeZone app

Our Student Services team will also be writing to ALL students to ask you to participate in a 'location census' in the coming days. It is important that you participate in this so we can monitor where you are so that we can provide the appropriate support to different groups of students in these difficult times.

We will continue to email you with updates so please keep checking your University email account, we will also be updating information and FAQs on the Covid-19 webpages.

Lastly, our team are here to support you and should you require any further assistance, please contact accommodation@york.ac.uk

Kind regards

Dr Wayne Campbell

Academic Registrar