Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff and students - 13 October 2020
Dear Colleagues and Students,
I want to start by thanking the overwhelming majority of our students and staff who have responded superbly to the changes and restrictions we have had to put in place in recent weeks. Your actions undoubtedly have helped us to control the spread of the COVID-19.
We are deeply sorry that so many students have had to self-isolate and have had restrictions placed upon their lives. We have done our very best to put the right measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to test and trace positive cases and to provide effective support to those required to isolate. Clearly we are learning day to day in this complex situation, but we continue to listen and respond to the concerns and issues as they arise. Please keep giving us your feedback. It allows us to work as one team to provide the best support we possibly can.
It has been the start to term no-one wanted but we have been deeply impressed by the commitment of everyone to our blended approach to education and the richness and quality of the educational experience provided by our dedicated colleagues. We hope to share the headlines and agree any actions emerging from our first student ‘pulse survey’ about educational experiences later this week.
It is clear from our work with Public Health England (PHE) that the measures we have put in place and the response of students and colleagues are among the reasons that Exeter has been placed in the ‘Medium’ risk level in the new three-tier system of restrictions, despite currently having higher case numbers than some areas.
Making the announcement yesterday the Prime Minister reiterated that universities should remain open and praised the steps students have taken in responding to the pandemic. Our individual and collective actions are what can prevent us moving into enhanced lockdown measures, such as those now being experienced in Liverpool. So far the measures we have put in place have prevented any significant onward transmission to our wider community and prevented the Exeter area from going into ‘very high’ alert, with all the serious health, economic and social impacts that would bring.
It is vital that we continue take the appropriate measures to keep you and our community safe. We know from the latest Devon County Council COVID-19 dashboard, dated 11 October, that there were 337 positive cases in Exeter over the preceding 7 days, and PHE tell us that more than 80% of these are linked to the University. There remains a small number of cases related to our Cornwall Campus. We have seen no increase in the small number of staff cases. If we continue to take the right actions we will see these numbers reduce and then we can look to reduce the restrictions on household mixing and increase the amount of teaching on campus. If we are to achieve this it will be critical that everyone continues to follow the Covid-19 rules.
Finally, I really want to thank the numerous students, colleagues and community members who have supported people in self-isolation in recent weeks. Your acts of kindness and support have been seen and appreciated. We must remain resilient and proud of who we are and we will get through this together as one community.
We review data and discuss our approach with our Public Health England colleagues on a daily basis. I will write to you again on Friday to update you on case numbers and any changes to our current approach that may be necessary.
Registrar and Secretary