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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff and students - 10 November 2020

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Key points

  • Official Covid-19 data shows a further reduction in cases at the University
  • We must continue to abide by the national  lockdown restrictions and observe good COVID hygiene
  • Remember, if you experience COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, you must self-isolate and request a test
  • New guidelines are available for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable
  • We await further government guidance on the Christmas break
  • Students in Exeter are invited to an online talk and Q&A with the Vice-Chancellor, President of the Students’ Guild and other members of the senior team
  • Please remember to reach out for support if and when you need it via our Wellbeing pages

Full message

We are 6 days into the second period of national lockdown, and I want to thank you all once again for everything you have done to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our community.

The Devon County Council (DCC) dashboard, which includes data up to 7 November, shows that there have been 736 cases in the last week for Devon and 332 cases in the last week for Cornwall. Exeter has recorded 173 of the cases in Devon over the last week. By working with our Public Health England (PHE) colleagues we know that around 25% of those cases are attributable to the University. There are very few cases linked to our Cornwall campus.

Our daily update of new positive cases in the University community can be found on our COVID-19 statistics webpage. This should be viewed alongside the official published data.

Once again this data shows a downward trend in cases in the city of Exeter and also at the University. Thanks to your efforts our partners at Public Health England have told us that they now consider the outbreak of cases at the University to be over, and our cases are at a level to be expected in the current national situation.

However, this is not a time for complacency and we know that both nationally and in our own region, cases are increasing. We must understand and abide by the new national lockdown restrictions, and continue to observe good COVID hygiene:

  • Wash your hands - regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser
  • Cover your face - wear a face covering when indoors, or in enclosed or busy areas
  • Make space - maintain social distancing outside your household

You can attend face-to-face teaching, shop for provisions, or go to work if you cannot work from home. You can read the full guidelines here

If you begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell), you must self-isolate immediately and contact the Rapid Response Hub via phone on 0300 3334847 or email rapidresponsehub@exeter.ac.uk. You should get in touch even if your symptoms are mild. The team will arrange a test as quickly as possible and we aim to get results within a day or so. Students at the College of Medicine and Health studying health programmes (Medicine, Medical Imaging and Nursing) should access testing as directed by their programme leads.

Under the current lockdown rules in England, you can only exercise or meet in a public outdoors space with the people you live with, a support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.

New guidelines have been issued for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable and if you have underlying health conditions you are strongly recommended to read the new guidance. Our FAQ provides additional detailed guidance. If you have any concerns you should speak to your doctor in the first instance. 

The end of term is four weeks away, and we await guidance from the Department for Education on the provisions that will be made to allow students to return home. The Government has committed that all students who wish to travel home in December for the festive break will be able to do so, so please do not worry about this.  We will share details of how we will support this with you as soon as we can, and I hope to be able to update you on Thursday. Please be assured that we will support you to ensure we can all spend the festive season with our loved ones if possible.

This morning we experienced some issues with our timetabling system, which was unavailable for two hours. I apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused to students and educators. Our colleagues in Exeter IT worked quickly with the supplier of the system to resolve the problem and ensure that we see no further such issues.

Finally I would like to remind students in Exeter that you can join our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lisa Roberts and Students’ Guild President, Sunday Blake for a live talk and Q&A via Teams from 6.15pm – 7.15pm this Thursday, 12 November. Lisa, Sunday and other members of the senior team will be discussing our response to COVID-19, providing an update from the Students’ Guild update and talking about; teaching and learning, our current operations, wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion. I hope you can all join us on Thursday, but if not then you will be able to watch a recording of the talk by clicking on the event link afterwards.

I will update you again later in the week. In the meantime please look after yourselves and those around you, and remember that you can access support if and when you need it by visiting our Wellbeing pages. I am proud of the way we have all worked together this term, no matter what role each of us has played. We are one Exeter community and once again I want to thank everyone for pulling together to face this challenge.

Best wishes

Mike

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary