I am writing at the earliest opportunity to set out our University’s position following the government announcement of a National four-week lockdown commencing on Thursday 5 November (subject to Parliamentary approval).
At the beginning of the first lockdown, we set out four key priorities, and these remain.
First, to protect health. Thanks to the enormous hard work of so many colleagues, we have one of the most Covid secure workplaces possible. Our infection rates are at low levels. We cannot be complacent, but by working together and by taking personal responsibility, we have and we can maintain that commitment to health.
Second, to ensure the success of our students. Warwick, like all other English universities, will remain open, for education and for research. Our blended learning model continues with a mixture of face-to-face teaching and online teaching and I can confirm that the library, study spaces and support services, in line with government guidance, will remain open. Students have been very gracious in their feedback about what is being delivered by our schools and departments. Now more than ever, our students are genuinely our partners in their education.
Our third priority is to protect jobs. The impact on our income this year, along with the extra Covid measures we have invested in, is some £87.7 million, if you compare our 2019 plan, with our current financial plan. Despite that, we have managed to support staff across the campus even in areas most directly affected, particularly in our Arts Centre and in our hospitality work. We will need to urgently review our approach in the light of the renewed furlough policy, but our emphasis is on support for our student experience. Those staff already identified as critical to our current operating model will continue to work on campus, including many of our estates, campus security and service staff, as well as staff teaching and directly supporting students. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all. All of these essential on-campus activities continue with the safety measures we already have in place to make them as Covid-secure as we can.
Fourth, we said that we would be a good neighbour. In April and May we had the most extraordinary and wonderful outbreak of help and support: for our NHS, for our foodbanks, for our looked after children, and many of you delivered medicines and food. The next four weeks will be very tough for many people. Please, see if you can find time to support our friends and neighbours again, or perhaps, still more.
Reducing virus transmission rates
To minimise virus transmission rates, and in line with clear government guidance, students must not move back and forth between their student and permanent homes during term time. All students should remain in their student accommodation until the end of term – to be clear, this is government advice. We expect further announcements on end-of-term travel arrangements to be made in the coming weeks.
I fully recognise that this continues to be a very challenging and uncertain time for everyone. Our wellbeing provision continues and I encourage both staff and students to access these services if required.
We will provide more information about the University’s position in the next 48 hours as we continue to work closely with public health and the Department for Education. Further detail will be provided on sport, social and retail activities, but we expect that these will be aligned to arrangements for the national lockdown. In the meantime, thank you for your continued resilience and adaptability and stay safe.
With best wishes
Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor