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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff - 17 February 2021

Dear Colleagues

Key points

  • We must remain vigilant and follow the COVID-19 restrictions to keep those around us safe
  • We expect further details on the return of teaching to campus on 22 February and we will update you as soon as we can
  • There has been a slight increase in COVID-19 case numbers on campus but overall these remain low
  • Please remember to book your twice weekly tests if you are working on campus
  • We are taking part in a national study into COVID-19 testing
  • Remember that you should download and use SafeZone if you are working or studying on campus
  • Remember to reach out for wellbeing support if you need it

Full message

This week has seen the COVID-19 case numbers across the country return to levels last seen in November, and with the continued progress of the vaccination programme, we all hope we can see a time when restrictions can be lifted and life can begin to feel a little more normal. However, by any objective measure the national case numbers are still very high, the risk from COVID-19 remains very real and the impact the disease is having on those around us is no less devastating.

This week the numbers of positive tests on our campuses remain low and this should be a reminder to all of us that we must continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. Respecting the Hands Face Space rules remains our best defence against spreading the virus. Please continue to maintain social distancing from those around you, and be respectful of the space others need to move safely in shared spaces, for instance when shopping or exercising.

We expect to learn more about the return of teaching to campus on 22 February when the Prime Minister sets out the ‘road map’ out of lockdown. We do not know what this will contain but we will meet immediately to review the detail and the implications for the University and I will update you on what this means for us in my message next Wednesday, if not before.

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 13 February when the 7 day rolling daily average of positive cases was 2.3.

Book your free twice weekly tests

Please remember to book your free twice weekly tests should you be working on campus, or planning to work on campus. If you are coming onto the campus irregularly, please get a test each time you come.

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

Get regular tests and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 testing study

From Monday 15 February, we’re helping the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with a study into COVID-19 testing. This will compare the standard lateral-flow device test (LFD) against PCR tests. The results of the study will inform the evidence base surrounding the performance of LFD testing.

When you book a slot to attend our asymptomatic testing site at the Sports Centre, Streatham Campus, you’ll be asked as part of the booking process whether you would like to take part in the study. If you agree, you’ll be provided with two tests at the test centre, one which will be an LFD test and one the PCR test. A separate swab will be used for each test.

As LFD testing is the standard test for the test site, you’ll only receive results from the LFD test, in the usual way – the sample you provide for the PCR test will be sent to the lab for processing, and the results will be analysed by DHSC.

You’ll be asked to give your consent for this at the testing site, and all data used will be anonymised as part of the exercise. You’ll also have the opportunity to opt out of the process if you prefer, and take only the LFD test.

Your participation in this study will help to make a real difference in our understanding of how to test for COVID-19, so that we can continue to make the tests more accurate.

Use SafeZone when working on campus

Everyone who is working or studying on our campuses should download and install the SafeZone app. SafeZone supports staff and students, especially those who are lone-working, and helps those who need first aid or assistance from our security team. It’s available through the Play/App store – search 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 as follows:

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

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. 

You can find out more about SafeZone on our ‘COVID-19 – Working Safely’ pages.

Your wellbeing

The University has been involved in a number of recent studies that show the wellbeing benefits of spending time outside. Most recently our Virtual Nature Experiment is exploring how digital experiences of nature might improve wellbeing. Please consider taking part in the study and, now that the weather is beginning to improve a little, I encourage you to spend time outside if you are able to do so within the COVID-19 restrictions.

Finally please remember to reach out if you need wellbeing support. You can find all our links and resources on our wellbeing pages.

Best wishes

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary