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Heads of Department Update 24 July


Apologies – I failed to meet my promise of getting this out on a Thursday; weeks seem to passing by a bit faster than I would like, but I suspect we all feel that at the moment. Monday’s Extended Leadership Forum is going to provide a lot of updates on arrangements around campus reopening and If you aren’t able to be there, you’ll get copies of the presentations. But for now the following may be helpful.

Library Arrangements

I’ve been given an update on two developments that you may wish to be aware of:

  • Click and Collect:

You may have seen in inbox insite that on 27 July, the Library will introduce a mediated ‘Click and Collect’ service for access to our print collections. Staff and students will be able to make requests via an online form and collect them from the Library. Information on this can be found on the Library’s homepage carousel.

This is the first of a number of stages on the way to returning to full reopening by end September of the main Library and its satellite sites. We’re now working on the next stage of providing study space in the University House Learning Grid and hope to provide limited access to the main Library by the beginning of September.

  • Library Opening hours:

Given the current situation, and in order to protect (as far as possible) funding for information resources, we have reluctantly decided to pause the main Library’s 24-hour opening provision for 2020-2021 and for 2021-2022 unless the situation changes significantly,.

  • Main Library opening hours next session will be 08.30 – 24.00 over 7 days a week, with reduced times over the Christmas and New Year period. This will apply through the year, including Term 3.
  • The standard opening times for other Library spaces will continue without change. We do not at the moment anticipate being able to extend the hours of any spaces during Term 3 but will assess the possibility of doing so nearer the time.

Face Coverings

We’ve now agreed a simple policy on the use of face coverings indoors – more detail on Monday but the decision was to focus on keeping the rule simple – and proceeding on a cautious basis. So basically with limited exceptions, we’ll be looking for face coverings to be worn indoors, even with 2m distancing. We will need work through issues around the types of face coverings that may be required for some people to recognise the needs of those with hearing and communication differences. We are procuring reusable face masks and digital thermometers at the moment in preparation for the start of the new academic year and the return to campus.

There is some work going on in Marketing and Communications about trying to find an easy and efficient way of communicating to staff about the mechanisms that are being put in place. There is massive amount of work being done (public health measures, transport, space, ventilation, cleaning, circulation routes and so on). But it’s not always visible or easily accessible. So the VP/CoFs have been working with comms colleagues to gather the important information into a single place.

And the Business Continuity and Recovery Programme continues to work with our own experts to ensure that we give full consideration to the latest scientific developments as we work through all of this.

Return to Work and Individual Vulnerability Assessments

I mentioned these briefly last week and I think you’ve all now seen the tool; it is simple and easy to use. It’s also basic and so it will only give a very general level of guidance. For the majority of people, it should be straightforward and give some helpful reassurance. But there will be a number of colleagues with more complex circumstances. For those colleagues, the Covid age that the tool calculates will only be a starting point for a discussion both about other health concerns, and individual circumstances – especially where there are caring responsibilities. HR will be organising a series of briefings for HoDs during in August to help you to plan for discussions that you may need to have. Further detail will follow but the dates I have are:

  • Thursday 6th August 0900-1000
  • Monday 10th August 1500-1600
  • Monday 17th August 1500-1600
  • Thursday 20th August 1300-1400

Purchasing limits

I’m guess that you’ve all now seen the note about increasing purchasing limits for essential items that staff need during home working from £50 to £100. Hopefully this will give some additional flexibility for colleagues, especially as so many will be working on teaching preparation.


The ARC VLS panels have now met twice (as have the other panels). And thanks to all of you who provided impact assessments for applicants for either VLS or TBB). We have tried to be pragmatic in our assessment of cases given the need to make savings; we are making progress but still have a bit of a way to go in terms of savings targets. If you do have cases where there are individuals who are interested and you need some advice in terms of fit with the scheme, do feel free to get in touch with me or with your VP/CoF.

I think that’s all for now. Have a great weekend and please do make sure that you find time for some leave over the next few weeks.