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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff – 26 May 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The Festival of Discovery opened on Monday and will run until Friday 4June. Many students and staff have already taken the opportunity to come to the campuses to attend some of the events that have taken place and there’s still time to book for some of the fantastic forthcoming events including, keynotes from our Vice-Chancellor Professor Lisa Roberts who will introduce us to her varied career, Professor Andy Jones on how the 2 hour marathon barrier was broken and Professor Pete Vukusic on how bio-inspiration is leading to new technologies.

There’s also a wealth of other activities across the campuses including free gym sessions, wellbeing and mindfulness activities, digital skills sessions and language taster sessions.

We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Festival so far. To find out more about the events and how to book your place at www.exeter.ac.uk/festivalofdiscovery. If you’d like to volunteer to support 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, and once again there have been no positive cases on our campuses over the last 7 days. The University compiles data provided by Public Health England and HALO to produce statistics on the number of confirmed positive cases for students and staff. The latest data can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. For the week beginning 17 May, the number of positive cases was 0.0.

Pick up your COVID-19 home test kit

You can now test yourself regularly in your own home by collecting a home test kit from collection points on our Streatham, Penryn and St Luke’s campuses.

Colleagues in Cornwall will need to book a time to pick up your kit from the Penryn Sports Centre or Falmouth Camus Reception. In Exeter, there are a number of collection points where you can drop in and collect your kit – please check the website for collection points and opening times.

If you haven’t taken a test before, please book three tests at your nearest test centre before collecting your home test kit. This will ensure you understand how to take your test and get the most accurate result.

You must report your home test results to the Government’s online LFD result registration. Details on how to do this and what to do if you test positive, can be found on our testing website.

Remember, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, the test you need is different. Please contact our Rapid Response Hub to book your HALO/PCR test. For more info on testing and FAQs, visit our testing website.

Returning to work on campus

Planning continues to enable the return of more colleagues to on-campus working, which must be managed to ensure everyone remains safe in work as many parts of our lives open up.

Over the next few weeks, the executive teams in our Colleges and Services will be working with managers to determine a phased approach for returning to on-campus working which will be based on business needs at service level. Managers will begin to have conversations with their teams to ensure any circumstances which may impact a return to campus are understood. Guidance for managers and staff will be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please engage with your service’s planning on coming back onto campus.

Travel updates

Greater travel is now possible, but we should all remember that we must continue to minimise our traveI wherever possible, and to use digital options to engage with events and meetings where we can. We should carefully consider both the increased COVID-19 risk and the need to reduce carbon emissions before planning any trips, and always note the latest guidance on avoiding travel to areas subject to Government advice, for example in relation to COVID-19 variants of concern.

Further advice and guidance on International and UK travel is given below.

International Travel

In line with the easing of restrictions and the introduction of some international travel, we will begin to support some overseas University work and/or study, where it aligns with the University essential travel principles and the UK Government traffic light system.  Full guidance is available on the COVID-19 webpages.

Whilst we look forward to the reintroduction of some overseas activity, a return to the level pre COVID-19 will not be seen for quite some time. All University travel for work and/or study must meet the following key principles:

  • Travel to red list countries will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances, and must be approved by the COVID-19 Gold group;
  • A “letter of support” is a legal requirement of travel to amber countries. This letter will be produced as an output of the approval process, subject to approval being given;
  • The University Travel Policy has been updated to align to best practice, including British Standards and University Safety and Health Association guidance;
  • International Travel risk assessments have been consolidated, now one overarching risk assessment per trip is required.

We have published checklists for those planning travel, organised by the categories of travel that are permitted to resume:

Insurance for international travel

Please do not contact the Insurance Team until your proposed trip has received the full approval required. In addition, evidence of risk assessment and essential trip approval will be required in order for the insurance registration to be completed. If your requested destination is sanctioned, 14 day advance notification to the insurer is required. Cover is not guaranteed and certain exclusions will apply, this will be confirmed on a case by case basis. You must wait to receive confirmation of insurance before booking any travel. To seek insurance approval, email insurance@exeter.ac.uk.

For more information on the travel insurance process, please visit the staff pages.

Overseas trips of greater than 3 month’s duration:

It remains the case that any overseas trips for greater than 3 month’s duration must follow the Global Mobility Policy to ensure employment law compliance.  Advance notice of 3 months must be provided to enable this.

Prior to booking international trips:

Travel must meet the University essential travel criteria. A completed risk assessment and detail on the essential nature of the trip must be approved at the appropriate level - see the above checklists for further detail, and confirmation that insurance has been agreed must be obtained prior to making any bookings.

If you have already started the approval process:

If any trips are already within the approval process and have used the previous risk assessment tools, there will be no requirement to transfer the data into the new consolidated form. A small amount of additional information may be requested due to the newly introduced traffic light system and quarantine requirements.

Fieldwork for researchers (including PGRs)

Authorisation of international fieldwork remains complex.  All international requests must still be approved by the Research Restart panel, including third parties such as sub-contractors and partners, who are doing research on behalf of the University in international countries.

Full guidance on international travel can be found within the COVID-19 webpages. If you have any queries in the meantime please contact TravelQueries@exeter.ac.uk

Travel within the UK

I am pleased to confirm that attendance at educational day visits, seminars, conferences and business meetings is now permitted, in line with government travel advice, provided that the relevant risk assessments are completed and approved. UK residential stays (such as fieldtrips) and sports events are also permitted, again only where the correct risk assessments are completed and approved.

Full detail is included in the risk assessment tool, and within our Travel Advice webpages.

Key considerations for travel within the UK

  • Risk assessments for UK-based travel may focus more on the use of private or rental vehicles to minimise use of public transport;
  • If travel is planned to a higher risk region, for example due to variants of concern or regional outbreaks, trip organisers must consider how to reduce the risk;
  • There is no cancellation or curtailment cover within the University of Exeter travel insurance policy for COVID-19, but all other elements remain in place;
  • If Government guidance changes, bringing into force local, regional or national lockdowns, trips may be cancelled. There are two exclusions on our insurance policy, relating to (a) Government or Local Authority Directives, and (b) pandemic. If a trip is cancelled or curtailed for this reason, it will not be covered by insurance. Cancellable / refundable / transferrable booking options should be selected, to minimise the risk of financial loss.

Furniture returns and Car Park B

Over the summer vacation months a large scale furniture moving project is taking place on our Streatham and St Luke’s campuses. Some 10,000 items that were removed in summer 2020 to help with social distancing will be delivered back to the buildings and rooms they came from. 

There’ll be a marquee on Car Park B to house furniture arrival and dispatch. Car Park B will be unavailable for parking from 26 May to 24 September. 

Your wellbeing

The changes to the Covid-19 restrictions announced recently may bring up a range of emotions, it is normal to go through a range of emotions at times like these. You can find out more about mental health support on our mental health support pages should you need it.

Respect Festival on Campus 

This week you can join us for the Exeter Respect on Campus Festival, taking place virtually this year, from Monday 24 May to Thursday 27 May 2021. Returning for the third time, the festival marks our commitment to equality and inclusion. To see what's on and book a place, check out the webpage.

Best wishes

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary