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Heads of Department Update 31 December


I guess you will have been expecting this following yesterday’s news. And here you can find the formal letter from Minister Donelan (highlights are mine).

In brief, Coventry and Warwickshire now in Tier 4 (as you probably know). There will be formal comms later today from the University to students, HoDs and all staff – and appropriate information on the web site. As far as University is concerned the position is as follows – the black text is an assessment of where we are and the text in italics tells you what we are currently looking to do. This is a brief update only and more will follow after the new year.

  • Students will be told not to return to university unless they are taking particular courses (medicine/medical, teacher training, social work, dentistry, vets) or if they have good reason because of mental health issues or if the student suffers from inadequate study space at ‘home’. This is to apply to all students: including commuter students.

We will communicate this to students generally and as you will be aware the discipline exceptions apply to MBChB, PGCE and potentially the Social Work DA. We will therefore deliver all teaching online for the first 2 weeks of term (the next review will be w/c 18th Jan). This is what would have happened for most of FoA and FSS, but will be a change for SEM students who would have expected to return on 11thJan. And not for now but we will need to consider contingencies beyond 25th Jan but that can wait. In effect we are moving to the DfE Tier 4 but we won’t use this language and you don’t need to enact any of the associated comms protocols.

  • We cannot police this and we will continue to offer tests to returning students even if they are not covered by the exceptions above.

Will be highlighted in comms to students.

  • Universities should stay open: not only for the limited courses for f2f, but also should keep open facilities – library, study spaces – for those by the exceptions above and those who have remained in campus accommodation over the vacation period.

Library/Study space expected to remain open, as will Rootes Grocery. Sports Hub closed.

  • International students who have not yet arrived should not be encouraged to travel.

We will place a message on the web to indicate that if international students are travelling they are still welcome, but if they need to delay their travel plans they can continue online until they are able to arrive – with caveats around lab based subjects where they can continue online as long as all teaching is online.

  • Research students to be treated as workers: that is, work from home where they can, but at the university (including the library) where they cannot.

This is the same as we have been doing and will continue.

  • The minister is convening a group of those representing the PSRBs from which there might be further guidance on particular courses.

We should await the outcome of these discussions.

  • This applies until Friday 22 January, with a review on the 18th, which could extend this period of what is in effect tier 4 of the DfE guidance. After that the expectation is a staggered return to f2f, but all that remains a bit up in the air for now.

If you have any immediate queries, let me know and I can try to clarify (but will be offline for a couple of hours). Issues around furlough, clinically extremely vulnerable staff and accommodation refunds will be addressed after the new year.

Happy New Year – not the best of starts but probably not unexpected. For now, I hope you can continue to enjoy the rest of the holiday.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE