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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for staff - 3 February 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I have attached a letter which we received yesterday evening from Michelle Donelan, Minister for Universities (.pdf), in which she thanks colleagues across the higher education sector for everything we are doing to support students and maintain the delivery of higher education. The Minister praises the collaboration between employers and trade unions, staff and students, all working to keep campuses as safe as possible. We have seen these incredible efforts ourselves here at Exeter. Everywhere we have looked, colleagues have responded to the crisis with unbounded commitment and resourcefulness, transforming the University, delivering the best possible support for our students and working to keep each other safe and well.

The Government has made additional hardship funding available. We await details of how this will be allocated across universities, but we will ensure that at Exeter it is used to offer further support to those facing additional financial impacts.  So far our own Success For All fund has made more than 1,000 payments and £1million has been distributed to Exeter students who have been affected by the pandemic. We have recently doubled the size of the fund to £2 million, in partnership with the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union.

The Minister also tells us that Government will be reviewing the data on vaccinations and COVID-19 case rates in mid-February and that an announcement will follow in the week beginning 22 February on the plan for university students. We will of course update you as soon as further details are released.

COVID-19 Case numbers

This week we have seen a further decrease in the numbers of positive cases amongst students and staff. The data on daily cases can be found on our COVID-19 statistics web page. The page currently has data up to 31 January when the 7-day rolling daily average of positive cases was 0.7.

TEST TO PROTECT AND STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

Are you working on campus or carrying out fieldwork? If so, please remember to book your LFD tests twice a week, every week. On-going testing will enable us to spot outbreaks quickly and ensure everyone can live together safely so please get regular tests to protect one another and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Please find below details of how to book/access your twice weekly tests at each of our campuses:

Streatham and Cornwall Campuses

Booking is simple, schedule your slots and book in advance. You can make multiple bookings, just leave a gap of two to three days between your two tests in one week. To book your regular tests please use the online booking form below:

St Luke’s Campus

There’s no need to book your twice weekly tests - just turn up at the testing centre at Baring Court*, St Luke’s, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7.45-10.30am.

*the location of the St Luke’s testing centre may change soon, if this is the case we will ensure you are informed.

When you come for your tests please remember to bring your University ID and continue to follow the current government guidance and lockdown restrictions.

Further information about our rapid twice weekly COVID-19 tests, including information on what to do if your test result is positive, can be found on our dedicated staff COVID-19 test webpages. 

We’ve all worked hard to control the transmission of COVID-19, but with the emergence of new, more easily transmissible variants, it’s vital that we do everything possible to protect everyone. Please test to protect and stop the spread of COVID-19.

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 THE TEST YOU NEED IS DIFFERENT – PLEASE READ BELOW FOR DETAILS  

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

On campus buildings, services and outlets

We are working hard to make sure that buildings and services are open and accessible to those who need them.

If you are in Exeter you can find:

If you are in Penryn you can find:

Please remember when you are using any of the outlets on our campuses:

  • Don’t forget to wear your mask when collecting your takeaway⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Be very careful to observe the 2m social distancing requirement⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Respect and observe the one-way systems, which are in place to keep everyone safe

Our ‘Here to Help’ teams are available to answer queries and signpost you to services across all our campuses. If you have any questions then please contact the teams:

Your wellbeing during COVID

Every Mind Matters

Last week saw the launch of ‘Every Mind Matters’, a new national campaign to support the nation’s mental health.  Every Mind Matters supports people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing and to help support others such as friends and loved ones.

The website allows you to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan. By answering 5 simple questions, you will get a personalised action plan with practical tips for dealing with stress and anxiety, boosting your mood, sleeping better and feeling more in control. The Every Mind Matters COVID-19 hub also includes practical tips and support on how we can deal with uncertainty.

Digital wellbeing

As we find ourselves working and studying during a lockdown once again, many of us are inevitably using digital tools and devices for longer periods of time. To help you stay on track with your studies or work, the Digital Hub have put together a set of tips to aid your digital wellbeing.

I’d especially like to encourage you to take regular breaks away from the screen and take the time to share what works best for you with your peers: there are fantastic ideas across the University, and sharing the ones that work for you could make a big difference to someone you work or study with.

As you will know by now we have a wide range of wellbeing and mental health support available and I encourage you to explore and to think about what might be right for you.

Stay connected and stay involved

Finally I would like to encourage you to get involved with some of the many events taking place across our campuses and beyond.

This week is Race Equality Week and also the start of LGBT+ History Month. Find out what we’re doing and join in with some great events including film screenings, speaker events, talks, comedy sessions and discussion groups.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, Thursday 4 February, is Time to Talk Day – when everyone is encouraged to have a conversation about mental health, no matter how small. Talking has the power to make a big difference and it benefits all of us to talk about mental health. Time to Talk is part of England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

The more conversations we have about mental health, the more barriers we can break down – helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us feel when experiencing a mental health problem. This year sees a virtual festival taking place on 3-4 February, with online activities that anyone can join from home.

Time to Change also have great suggestions for workplace activities to challenge misconceptions, start conversations and change attitudes around mental health. You can find out more about these on their website and think about how you could start a conversation with those around you.

Best wishes

Mike

 

Mike Shore-Nye
Registrar and Secretary