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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff – 12 May 2021

Dear colleagues

This week saw the announcement from Government that, from 17 May, all remaining students will be allowed to return to on-campus activities. Most of our students remain engaged in online exams/assessments, but those who have timetabled activities on our campuses taking place from 17 May will begin to see physical locations revealed in their timetables.

We are pleased that this long phase of the roadmap to easing restrictions is now coming to an end, and I want to pay tribute once again to the enormous efforts you have all made to keep our community safe and to reduce the number of cases of COVID-19, which has enabled this return to campuses.

Returning to Work on Campus

For most staff there will be no significant change to our current approach of working from home wherever possible following this latest easing of restrictions. However, we are currently developing our plans to enable a further managed and COVID-19 secure return to work on our campuses for more of our colleagues. We will share more information next week and set out the full details of our approach to further return over the next few weeks. In the meantime if you have any questions regarding your current working arrangements, please talk to your line manager as usual.

17 May - further easing of COVID-19 restrictions

The Government has confirmed that from 17 May there will be a further easing of the current COVID-19 restrictions, including permission for all students to return to on-campus activities.

There are a number of other important changes that we should all be aware of, and restrictions which remain in place which we must all abide by. These include:

  • People will be able to meet indoors in groups of up to six, or as two households
  • People will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people
  • If you meet friends or loved ones you can make a personal choice as to whether to keep your distance from them, but you should still be cautious and be respectful of their personal wishes at all times
  • Social distancing remains important with people who are not in your household or support bubble. The more distance you can keep from other people, and the less time you spend in close contact with them, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others.
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to reopen indoors
  • Most forms of indoor entertainment, such as cinemas and museums, will also be able to resume, where social distancing is possible
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs will allow overnight stays in groups of up to six, or two households.

At the University, fitness classes will resume from Monday 17 May, and student sports club activity will continue.

Please note however that our COVID-19 safety policies remain in place, including face-coverings which must be worn inside University buildings and outdoors where social distancing is not possible. There have been no relaxations to the social distancing and other safety measures in place across our campuses, and it is vital that we continue to abide by these, alongside observing the basic COVID-19 hygiene measures: HANDS. FACE. SPACE. FRESH AIR.

These additional freedoms are very welcome, and have been hard-won. We must all do everything we can to ensure they can be retained.

I urge everyone to remain cautious, to meet outdoors wherever possible, and to be very mindful of those around you at all times. Many of us are feeling anxiety about the transition out of lockdown, some of those around us are more vulnerable than others and, for many, seeing groups of up to 30 will cause concern. Please be a considerate member of our community and be sensitive to the impact you may have on those around you.

Festival of Discovery

After the exams period, we will be hosting the Festival of Discovery on our campuses, from Monday 24 May – Friday 4June. The Festival will offer engaging academic and social events including keynote speakers, sports activities, career support, society-led events, food stalls and entertainment, as well as providing the chance for students to reconnect with their friends and academic departments.  Updates will be available on our webpage.

I’d like to thank all those colleagues involved for their support for the event so far and we’d really appreciate it if you could encourage your students to attend.  If you’d like to volunteer to help at the Festival please email festivalofdiscovery@exeter.ac.uk.

COVID-19 case numbers

The overall rate of positive results on our campuses and across the region remains very low, with no positive cases on our campuses over the last 7 days. 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 9 May, at which time the 7-day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.0.

Keep testing for COVID-19

If you’re returning to campus regularly it’s important to keep testing for COVID-19 as part of your regular routine. Whether you’re testing at home or at one of our test centres, if you get a positive result, you’ll need a confirmatory HALO/PCR test – contact our Rapid Response Hub and we can book this for you and you’ll have the results within 24hours. More information and FAQs on testing can be found on the website.

Remember if you develop COVID-19 symptoms – self isolate and contact the Rapid Response Hub

If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, including high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss of taste/smell, you must self-isolate immediately and request a HALO PCR test through our Rapid Response Hub.

Mental Health Awareness week

This week is Mental Health Awareness week and this year’s theme is ‘Nature’. Our colleagues have shared with us photos, quotes and examples of how connecting with nature benefits their wellbeing and mental health. Thank you to all who got in touch, and we encourage all colleagues to find a moment in your day to step outside and enjoy the nature in your local area.

The Mind Over Natter talk on at 12.45pm this lunchtime (Wednesday) is with Wellbeing Consultant Kathy O’Connor, who’ll be giving an introduction to mindfulness and demonstrate how anyone and everyone can reap its benefits. This online event is free and open to everyone in our community – you can sign up here.

While changes to the COVID-19 restrictions bring a little welcome respite, I’m sure that many of us are experiencing mixed emotions and some anxiety and stress. This is not surprising after such a turbulent time. If you feel you need more support, you can find out more about our mental health provision on our mental health support pages.

Best

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary