I’m anticipating that this will be the only substantive update to share with you this week (especially as its now Thursday), although there is a lot in here. Some of it is a reminder of information that has already been shared and apologies for duplication, but sometimes it’s helpful to do a bit of “belt and braces”. We’ve all at least got a long weekend to look forward to, so when it comes I hope you do gets some well-deserved rest and relaxation. August has been more hectic and intense than any of us might have expected and so I’m sure we’re all ready for a bit of a break. And thanks to you all for your understanding and support during an exceptionally difficult confirmation and clearing process – it is really very much appreciated. And a particular thanks to those Depts who have over-recruited as it does help to put us into a much more secure position.
Confirmation and Clearing
We think we’re pretty much there on Confirmation and Clearing as I mentioned a few days ago. I can confirm some numbers for you next week but in brief, we are forecasting to be below the original UG HEU target, but better than the planning assumption and similarly with International students – we’re expecting to enrol below the original target but better than the planning assumption. We’ve honoured all of the offers made to clearing and “near miss” student, prior to the release of the amended results; we’ve honoured all offers to those meeting conditions after the amendments and we have not asked for deferrals. And our WP numbers look good. As it stands, this is a good outcome and better than we might have expected. Although it’s no longer in place we are below the upper limit that was set by Student Number Controls and we’ve tried to be sensitive to the need to manage capacity on campus and respect academic standards.
You’ll have seen the notification about greater flexibility in the balance between face to face and online delivery in teaching. This does reflect the better than expected recruitment position. Nevertheless, it’s worth being aware that the timetabling work is progressing well and most requests have been scheduled (less than 5% still to be scheduled). Broadly speaking we can create a timetable with the space and time slots we have; at this point we do not need to find any additional space. The next milestone is tomorrow when the hope is that most activities will have been allocated and the team is still working to a 9th September release date.
Following on from the earlier discussion around suspension and restart of academic promotions, UEB has approved the restart of the promotions process. I’m working with HR to update some of the paperwork (we need to allow applicants the opportunity to explain how the pandemic has impacted their preparations). We will prepare some dedicated FAQs to explain how we try to take these exceptional circumstances into account. And we’re working to pull together a network of individuals who would be willing to offer advice/support to promotions candidates.
There won’t be a formal announcement until we have finalised timescales with HR, but if you want to give advanced warning to your colleagues, then I have asked if we can work to an early/mid Jan deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork and we believe that we can then run the process and implement promotions for 1 August 2021 (so this would only be 2 months later than normal).
I hope we can get the formal announcement out in the next 2 weeks.
Finally, and I know you may already be familiar with this, but it’s really important, so please forgive the reminder. The Business Recovery and Campus Re-opening groups continue to work with expert colleagues from the fields of medicine, epidemiology, building services engineering and health and safety to create an environment that is as safe and secure as possible for those returning to campus and those living in the Coventry and Warwickshire region. And we’re working closely with external partners such as public health officials and local councils and police forces, to support our safety measures.
In practical terms we’re prioritising critical activities like teaching, student services and research on campus, and asking that those who don’t need to be on campus and can work from home, do so
From September we will introduce a Covid-19 Test and Trace service for our students and staff and we are doing so in the way that the NHS requires and which our own epidemiologists have recommended.. This service complements the NHS Track and Trace service and draws on the expertise of the Warwick Medical School which has already been assisting the local NHS. We’ll provide supervised self-testing facilities for people who have Covid-19 symptoms, and contact tracing will enable us to quickly reduce transmission rates across campus and the surrounding community.
In addition to our Test and Trace system, there are a number of other measures to keep everyone safe:
- Every space on campus will have been risk assessed to make sure it is safe to use (and I know this has been a challenging process but we are making good progress);
- Our plans for teaching and congregating enable us to keep a safe distance wherever possible (2m distancing, face coverings, circulation management);
- A central ordering system for PPE, signage and other equipment is in place, to help keep our buildings covid-secure and our staff and students are protected;
- Ventilation capacity has been checked in all relevant indoor spaces;
- We are making changes to campus routes to help maintain social distancing. There will be additional pedestrian and cycle spaces and some changes to traffic routes – all supported by new signage;
- We are timetabling in a way that ensures there will be fewer people around on campus at any one time;
- We will keep a 2m social distance where appropriate. Measures like one-way systems and floor markers will help us to do that;
- We will require the use of face coverings in internal spaces;
- Reusable face coverings and thermometers will be made available to any staff and students that need them, supported by clear guidance on when and how these should be used;
- As well as plenty of facilities to wash hands, we’ve added ‘sanitising stations’ around campus, with more to come;
- Our cleaning schedules have already been increased, particularly in areas that are touched and used often;
- We’ve implemented a widely-used ‘covid-age’ assessment tool. This helps to judge how vulnerable someone might be to Covid-19, based on the known ‘risk factors’ that apply to them and to help people access any support they need from HR and Occupational Health;
- We are working on a ‘code of conduct’ to set out expectations for students and staff to follow the University’s safety requirements, and the Government guidelines while off campus;
- Anyone that needs to self-isolate and lives on campus will be supported and looked after;
- Our ‘Stay Safe’ web pages, staff briefings, video updates, newsletters, and other communications channels provide the latest information, advice and support for our community.
I think that’s all for now. As ever, let me know if you have any queries and have a great long weekend. And thanks again for all of your hard work in keeping things moving towards the new academic and particularly for your support during confirmation and clearing.
Professor Christine Ennew OBE