Wednesday 20 January 2021

All staff email

Covid update

Dear colleagues

Just a brief update from me this week.


This week marks our January graduation ceremonies (Arts and Humanities today, Social Sciences tomorrow, and Sciences on Friday).

This is always an uplifting and proud day for our students and for everyone supporting their achievements.

As always, we can look forward to remarkable speeches by our student orators and lots of messages of support. We also have recordings from Gianni Rufini, expert in Humanitarian Aid, Dr Clare Matterson from the Natural History Museum, and former Chancellor Greg Dyke, who are all sharing their advice and congratulations for today.

Your wellbeing

I know this backdrop of celebration will provide a moment of inspiration - graduations are certainly one of the things ‘that it’s all for’ at a University like York. But I know also that many of us are finding it a real challenge to get through this really difficult time.

Our HR colleagues have shared lots of new guidance and policies recently, including our wellbeing resources and advice on dealing with the lockdown in winter months. We will continue to do all that we can to provide the support to help our whole community.

We are also making the point at the highest levels that university staff are working extraordinarily hard in really difficult conditions. I was able to make this point direct to officials from the Office for Students last Friday. And Universities UK has been working on our behalf to make clear to the Government the efforts the sector is making during the pandemic, and all the hard work staff are putting in to support education and research under very tight restrictions and difficult circumstances.

One year on

It feels a little unreal to note that the end of this month marks the UK’s first case of Covid-19, here in York. We are seeing a lot of media interest in this anniversary. Together with the City of York, we will be setting out the tremendous response and year-long effort we and our partners in the city have made in managing the unfolding events. I will certainly be saying how proud we are of our staff and students, and of how we have responded with community spirit and compassion to each new challenge.

Thanks again for all you have done for each other, for our students, and for the communities around us.

Best wishes