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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff and students - 27 January 2021

Dear colleagues and students,

Key points

  • The Prime Minister has announced that there will be no full return to education until 8 March at the earliest. We will share more details of that this means for us by the end of this week
  • The NHS needs hundreds of volunteers to support local vaccination centres. Find out how you can help
  • We are now offering regular, ongoing testing to those working or studying on our campuses, those working in face-to-face roles elsewhere and students who have returned to term-time accommodation. Please use the links below to book your twice weekly tests
  • We have seen a decrease in the numbers of cases amongst students and staff this week
  • Find out what buildings, services and outlets are open on our campuses
  • If you are working or studying on campus, please download and use the SafeZone app
  • A team is available to assist those who are still experiencing disruption due to recent IT issues
  • The Digital Hub Online can help you find the right digital resources for you
  • Please continue to pay attention to your wellbeing and access the help available if you need to

Full message

This week we are all reflecting on an unwanted milestone, as the UK has passed 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. I am proud of the work we have all done together at the University to play our part in controlling the spread of the virus, but nonetheless, this is a moment for us all to pause, to think about the terrible losses that have been suffered, and to promise ourselves and each other that we will continue to do whatever we can to keep each other safe. I was moved by the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury this morning when he said we should memorialise those who have gone by showing love to those around us. The love and care we can give to each other has never been more important.

Current lockdown restrictions

It seems likely that the current lockdown will now remain in place for some time. This afternoon the Prime Minister has announced that, due to the national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity, education restrictions will remain in place until 8 March at the earliest. We know this will be disappointing news for everyone. Rest assured that we will update you on what this means for our community by the end of this week.

Volunteer to support NHS mass vaccination

The National Health Service (NHS) is seeking hundreds of volunteer marshals and stewards to support the important work of vaccinating local people at NHS vaccination centres. Volunteering is flexible to fit around individual availability. If you are interested in volunteering, see our website for more information about how to volunteer and how the University is supporting this important part of the national and local response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Regular asymptomatic testing for those on campus

I am pleased to confirm we are now offering regular and ongoing asymptomatic testing for everybody required to work or study on campus, or who have in-person roles elsewhere, and for all students who have returned to their term-time accommodation.

Our community has worked incredibly hard to control the transmission of COVID-19. We need to continue this work to avoid any further outbreaks in light of the new more transmissible variants.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are available free of charge for those who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and can be done twice a week, every week, at our test centres in the Sports Halls on our Streatham and Penryn campuses. Regular ongoing testing will enable us to build an accurate picture of the status of COVID-19 on our campuses, and ensure our operations can take place safely.

The tests are quick and easy, using the Government-approved nose and throat swab Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test. Each test only takes around 15 minutes.

To book on to the twice weekly rapid tests:

Please remember to bring your University ID to the test centre with you and continue to follow government guidance.

Request a HALO PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 such as a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell, please self-isolate and request a HALO PCR test. The rapid lateral flow device tests are for ongoing usage, and not for use in the case of individuals who are symptomatic.

To request a HALO PCR test:

COVID case numbers

This week and we have seen a decrease in the numbers of positive cases amongst students and staff. The daily numbers can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. Data is available up to 24 January when the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases was 1.3.

On campus buildings, services and outlets – what’s open if you need it

Despite the current Government restrictions, we are continuing to support our staff and students who are working and studying on our campuses. 

Whilst the majority of buildings are closed, where in-person teaching is taking place, approved research activity is being undertaken or student support and catering services are required, we are working to ensure that these spaces are open and accessible to those who need them.

If there is a building or space that is currently not accessible and that you feel you need to access for teaching or research activity, please speak to your manager, supervisor or tutor who will discuss this with you.

Across all our campuses, our ‘Here to Help’ teams are available to answer queries and signpost you to services, including digital and phone assistance and support you in a COVID-19 secure way.

If you have any questions then please contact the teams:

Using SafeZone when on campus

As you will know, we have invested in SafeZone, the sector-leading app that supports staff and students, especially those who are lone-working, as well as helping those who need first aid or assistance from our security team.

You can access the SafeZone mobile app through the Play/App store – look for SafeZone published by CriticalArc Pty Ltd.

If you don’t have a mobile device and you are working on campus, we recommend you install the desktop version on your laptop or PC as follows:

  1. Search ‘Software Centre’ in the start bar  
  2. Search ‘SafeZone’ on the applications page.  
  3. Click on the install button

Once you have completed the registration, we recommend you check in and out of the app whenever you are lone working on campus. If you are checking in using the desktop application, we ask that you note “(DESKTOP)” before your room number. Find out more about SafeZone.

"I've been using it daily. I set it to automatically check in... it's very reassuring to have it there in case I need it." Steve Spaull, Technical Services Business Partner

“The set-up is fast and easy, combined with the automatic sign on/off feature means you just leave it in the background, providing the reassurance that assistance is never far away. The one touch link to University COVID-19 advice is also very useful.” Hugh McCann, Director of Estate Services

Disruption to online services

The IT security certificate issue that has been affecting many of our online services has meant that some students and staff have intermittently been unable to access critical resources needed for teaching and studying. We understand the impact this had on people and we're sorry for the inconvenience this has caused to those affected.

Exeter IT are working to fix this authentication error, which is the result of a global supplier issue, as quickly as possible, however the number of services that have been affected has meant that we have had to prioritise to enable restoration of essential online services first. This work has now been completed, however to further support those who are still experiencing issues we have set up a team of student ambassadors, available via our Essential IT Security Helpdesk, who will be able to assist you.

Please call the help desk on (+44) 01392 724994. Support is available between the hours of 08:00 - 20:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 17:00 on Saturday.

The Digital Hub Online is here to support you

The Digital Hub Online can help you to find the right digital resources for you, wherever you are learning or working.

As well up-to-date information and user-friendly guidance to help you use the many digital tools you may need to work, wherever you may be, the Digital Hub Online also lets you access the huge range of training courses that are available for your online learning and development.

‘LinkedIn Learning’, for example, gives you access to training on a range of subjects, from the Office 365 basics through to computer programming. There are over 16,000 LinkedIn Learning courses to choose from, including soft skills and wellbeing topics as well as technical subjects.  Access LinkedIn Learning with your University log in details and search for the course for you.

Your wellbeing

As I do each week, I want to remind you to take care of those around you, and to take the time to check in on yourself. Pay attention to the way you are feeling and be mindful of how the current situation is affecting you. Help and support is there if you need it, and we have provided this support because, frankly, many of us do need it. Reaching out for help does not mean that you are not coping, it means that you are taking positive action to help yourself and, in doing so, helping those around you. Please spend some time thinking about what you need and talking to those who can help.

The news today is sombre, but this evening I will be calling one of my oldest friends to check in on them and to talk about everything and nothing. If everyone could do the same then, once again, we can make a positive difference by showing love for those around us. 

Best wishes



Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary