Wednesday 5 January 2022

All staff email

New term and Covid update

Dear colleagues,

I'd like to start the new term by wishing you all a happy new year. I do hope you found some time to rest over the break. I know many colleagues continued to work to keep campus safe, deliver essential services, and prepare for the new term - thank you. I hope that you also find the right opportunity to recharge soon.

Omicron brings a challenging start to the new year. We know that it spreads faster than earlier variants, but has milder effects, especially for those vaccinated and boosted. Following the Prime Minister's press conference last night we also know that the Government plans to press ahead under the current Plan B, subject to review in late January.

In response to the challenges posed by Omicron, I have written to students today to share the three key things they - and indeed all of us - can do to help the next few weeks pass as smoothly as possible:

In line with the clear guidance of the Department for Education, campus-based, in-person teaching and learning will go ahead as planned. As we do so, our contingency groups and the Health, Safety and Welfare Committee will keep our approach under careful review, advising on any changes we may need to make. We are reviewing plans for January graduations, and will confirm our approach in the next few days. Our policy of working from home if you can remains in place, along with our updated working arrangements during Covid-19.

It is likely we will see higher staff absences than usual this term due to Omicron, and our contingency groups are considering how we can manage any impacts (here's a reminder to report any Covid absences).

Even as we start 2022 in these circumstances, let's not forget to take opportunities to celebrate our work and achievements. This year's York Talks on Wednesday 12 January are online and showcase the path-breaking research taking place at York. I'd also like to congratulate Professor Lucy Carpenter who featured in this year's New Years Honours.

I wish you well for the term ahead. I do hope we don't see further disruption, but we can't rule out further changes in guidance at short notice. I know that can be deeply frustrating, but I am confident that we can adapt well. Thank you for doing your part.

Best wishes

Charlie

Charlie Jeffery
Vice-Chancellor