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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff - 10 March 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Key points

  • Some areas of our campuses are a little busier this week as more students have been allowed to return. Please remember to follow the COVID-19 safety measures and talk to colleagues in the Here To Help team if you have concerns
  • COVID-19 case numbers on our campuses remain low. The current 7-day rolling average of positive cases is 0.6
  • Our ongoing participation in regular testing will be an important factor in any Government decision to open campuses further. To enable this to happen, and to keep our community safe, we need everyone to get tested twice a week
  • We are providing a testing service at the Sports Park for Exeter College students over the next few days.  Exeter staff and students are still able to get their tests in the usual way
  • Colleagues with access to home testing kits are not required to take additional on-campus tests
  • The Government have confirmed that students will be permitted to travel away from university once during the Easter holidays
  • In the UK attacks against East and Southeast Asian people have risen during the pandemic. We stand in solidarity and support with our Asian community. Incidents of racial harassment will never be tolerated and will always be acted upon
  • Your wellbeing is our priority and this week we have guidance for parents and carers
  • Colleagues will be able to read today’s message to students on our COVID-19 Communications page later today.

Full message

This week more colleagues have returned to our campuses, to support the limited number of additional students who have been allowed to return for resumed in-person teaching. From this week, Government restrictions allow us to enjoy a coffee outside with one other person, made easier by the improving weather. All of our campuses have beautiful places to visit and to take a break.

If you are in Exeter the Grounds and Gardens website has a series of maps and trails you can use to find peaceful spaces. In Penryn, you can see what’s growing in the walled garden, or explore the rich biodiversity around campus by taking a biodiversity tour around Tremough Gardens.

If you are on campus, please remember hands, face, space. The COVID-19 secure measures that were established last year are still in place and remain effective. Colleagues in the ‘Here to Help’ team can support you if you have any queries or wish to report concerns.

Our students continue to be able to meet indoors and outdoors in their household groups (as well as outdoors, with one other person). Remember that students may have households ranging in size from single rooms to larger 15-person households. 

COVID-19 case numbers

The overall rate of positive results on our campuses remains low. The daily numbers of confirmed positive cases for students and staff can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. Data is available up to 07 March when the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.6.

Book your free twice weekly tests now

We expect everyone who is taking part in in-person activities or using facilities on our campuses to book free twice-weekly tests, to protect those around us and to ensure that we can continue to offer in-person activities.

If you are coming onto the campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come.

In Exeter, as well as the major test site at the Streatham Sports Hall we now have a daily testing site at St Luke’s sports hall and a weekly pop-up site at Cornwall House so it should be easy to get a test wherever you are.

In Penryn, twice-weekly testing is carried out in the sports hall.

Visit the staff COVID-19 testing webpages for further information and booking forms.

To enable us to open campuses further, to offer more in-person activities, and to keep our community safe, we need everyone to get tested twice a week.

Play your part: Get regular tests and prevent the spread of COVID-19

Please note that over the next few days we are offering a testing service to the students of Exeter College.  We will therefore be welcoming large numbers of Exeter College students to the Sports Hall testing site.  We are managing this in a socially distanced, COVID-19-secure way so it is safe for University staff and students to continue to get tested, with a dedicated queue and flow of tests.  The Sports Hall test centre is open from 8.00 – 9.00am before the Exeter College students programme starts.  Staff and students can also take advantage of testing at our other sites if they wish.

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19, YOU MUST SELF-ISOLATE AND THE TEST YOU NEED IS DIFFERENT

Remember, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, such as a high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell, you must self-isolate and request a HALO PCR test through our Rapid Response Hub.

Home testing kits

Some staff members with school and college age children are now being provided with home testing kits - via their children’s institutions - to undertake twice weekly testing. In these circumstances, staff members will not be expected to undertake campus testing in addition to home testing. Should you test positive, whether testing at home or on campus, you should keep the University informed via this form and follow the usual guidance on self-isolation. More information is available here.

Student travel during the Easter break

The Government has published updated guidance for students regarding the upcoming Easter break.

A ‘travel window’ has been created to allow students to travel away from university and back to their term-time accommodation once during their Easter break. At the University of Exeter the Easter break is from the end of the Spring Term on Friday 26 March until the beginning of the Summer Term on Monday 26 April.

The Government guidance states that students will be allowed to travel away from university for the Easter break, if they choose to do so. This includes International students who are allowed to travel overseas in order to return home during the Easter break. However, in order to minimise the transmission of COVID-19, Government strongly advises students to remain in their term-time accommodation where possible, especially those students who have returned to resume in-person teaching from 8 March.

Where students do choose to travel away from their university, they should get tested before they travel and are encouraged to take a test before they return to university, where community testing facilities are available. Anyone who tests positive is legally required to self-isolate for 10 days and must not travel.

Students returning to university must get tested as soon as they arrive back, and should resume twice-weekly testing thereafter.

This will come as welcome news to many students, especially those who resumed in-person teaching in January. However, the guidance stresses that we must keep travel to an absolute minimum and, where it is possible to do so, students are encouraged not to travel.

Stop Asian Hate

As a University which is striving to be actively anti-racist, it is important that we make it very clear once more that we stand against racism and bigotry in any form.  The UK has seen the number of attacks against East and Southeast Asian people rise during the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to ensure that our Asian community know that we stand with them in solidarity and support, and that incidents of racial harassment towards them, or any other members of community, will never be tolerated and will always be acted upon.  

We take an active stand against this, as we do against all forms of racism and prejudice. We expect our entire community to uphold our values around equality, diversity and inclusion and strive to be part of the most compassionate institution possible. Our full statement and ways to seek support can be found here.

Your wellbeing

This week, we have seen children return to school. Whilst this will be welcomed by many, it is normal for our children to feel a range of emotions at times like these and we are committed to supporting parents to help their families. All colleagues have access to a parental coaching service through Spectrum Life as well as our Parents, Carers, Guardians: A Home Working Guide and the NHS has guidance on children’s mental health, which you may find helpful. Our new Support for Carers page also has useful information for all of us who are caring for others (including children and adults).

Please remember as always that we have a range of wellbeing support available to you. Please familiarise yourself with it and don’t be afraid to get in touch, even if just for a supportive conversation.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary