Revised January Arrangements - A Message from Roger Gair

Roger Gair, University Secretary, wrote to all colleagues on Thursday 31 December about the revised January arrangements for students and postgraduate researchers.

This message was sent via email to all colleagues on Thursday 31 December 2020.

Dear colleagues, 

I hope you have been enjoying a restful Christmas break, and I am sorry to interrupt your leave with this email.

As you will no doubt be aware, over the past couple of weeks the rate of infection from coronavirus has increased considerably in some parts of the UK. While to date Leeds has not seen a sharp rise and remains in Tier 3, the University is nonetheless subject to new restrictions that the Government announced yesterday. These have particular relevance to the return of students to campus from 4 January and below, for your information, is the full text of an email we have sent to students today setting out the new arrangements. 

In summary, except for those taking a small number of specified subjects (which at Leeds means Clinical and Social Work programmes), or those who need to return to Leeds for other specific reasons (detailed in the email to students, below), students should not return to university until further notice; and regardless of when they return, they must be tested for COVID – and found negative – before they can interact with others or use facilities on campus. 

We understand these new restrictions have been primarily introduced to manage potential risks from large groups of people travelling in early January. We are confident that our campus remains a safe environment, and it is important to stress that no evidence has emerged to suggest transmission of the virus through work or educational (as opposed to social) activities at Leeds. 

For our staff, our general principle remains that those who can work effectively from home (in the UK unless otherwise agreed) will continue to do so, coming onto campus only where that is necessary to deliver or support research, student education or the student experience, or because of another agreed reason to work on campus. Until further notice, of course, teaching will be online except in the limited cases specified in the note to students reproduced below. (In any event many students will be taking online assessments over the first fortnight of term, that is from 11 January).

Any individual staff queries should be addressed to relevant HR managers in the usual way once the University reopens on 4 January.

Again, I am sorry to have interrupted you at this time, but I hope you will appreciate that we are keen to inform staff of a significant change to the way we will operate at the start of term. Any updates over the next few days will be posted on our coronavirus website.

I hope you enjoy the remainder of the Christmas break.

With best wishes,

Roger Gair

University Secretary

Copy of email sent today to all students and postgraduate researchers:

Subject: Updated arrangements for the new term

Dear Students and Postgraduate Researchers,   

In December we wrote to you about the Government’s plans for staggering the return of students for the spring term. As you may have seen in the news, Government plans have now changed, so we are writing to you again to explain the changes and what they mean for you.  

The general principle adopted by the Government is that, except for a small number of courses (which at Leeds means Clinical and Social Work programmes), students should not return to university until further notice, and that, regardless of when they return, they must be tested for COVID – and found negative – before they can interact with others or use facilities on campus. 

The Government guidance allows some exceptions to the general rule. The implications for particular groups of students are set out below under separate headings. 

It is important to stress that to date Leeds has not seen a sharp rise in infections since the end of last term and remains in Tier 3, lower than most of England, and we are confident that our campus remains a safe environment.  

The Government will be reviewing the position in the week commencing 18 January and we expect to be able to provide more information then.   

If you live in the Leeds City region or have remained in Leeds during the holidays   

If you live in the Leeds City region or stayed in Leeds over the holidays the previous advice was that you could continue to use the facilities on campus which remained open during the vacation. The revised advice is that you should not use those facilities again until you have tested negative for COVID.  

If it is better for you to return to Leeds 

We understand there may be many reasons why it is better for you to return to Leeds for the start of term and the guidelines still allow for this. If you need access to University facilities to study or if it is better for you to be in Leeds for your health and wellbeing you are welcome to return but you should not use any facilities on campus or interact with other students until you have tested negative for COVID. 

If you are a Clinical or Social Work student 

You should return to campus or to your placement at the start of term but you should not use any facilities on campus or interact with others (on your placement or with other students) until you have tested negative for COVID. 

If you are a student with practical assessments or activities essential for professional qualifications 

You may return to campus any time from the start of term if you have practical assessments or activities which need to be completed for a professional qualification and which cannot be rescheduled. You should be tested negative for COVID before interacting with other students or using any facilities on campus. Your school will let you know if there are any changes to arrangements for these activities.   

If you are arriving from outside the UK and have already made travel plans  

If you are travelling from outside the UK and are not able to change your travel arrangements easily, you may return to Leeds. We will welcome you and support you but you should not use any facilities on campus or interact with other students until you have fulfilled your quarantine requirements and tested negative for COVID.   

If you have not made travel plans yet, you should wait for further information before you make your plans. We will support you to study online until you are advised to come to Leeds.  

If you need further advice about planning international travel or returning to Leeds, please see the travel FAQs or contact

If you are a Postgraduate Researcher 

You should continue your research from home where possible. However, where these are available and are also essential for your research, you may use facilities on campus (including COVID -secure laboratories) once you have tested negative for COVID. 

All other students 

If the descriptions above do not apply to you, you should follow the Government guidance and remain at your vacation address until advised to return to University. 

You should take your Semester 1 assessments online and continue to wait for further information before planning your return to campus. 

Teaching will continue to be delivered online until more detail is known about how the Government intends to phase the return of all students.   

Asymptomatic (lateral flow) testing   

Asymptomatic testing will be available from 4 January for all students not showing coronavirus symptoms. Please remember that you are advised to book two lateral flow tests, three days apart, and you should limit interaction with other students until  you receive the second negative test. 

For more information about the Asymptomatic testing facility please see the FAQs on the Coronavirus website  

Before travelling  

For those of you who will be travelling back to Leeds, please remember to follow local tier guidance on social contact. If available, please use a local community testing programme before you travel to Leeds. Please note that a subsequent negative test will still be required after you return to Leeds – prior to coming onto campus or interacting with other students face-to-face.  

For more information about returning to Leeds in January, including how to travel safely please see the FAQs on the Coronavirus website  

Looking after yourself   

We fully understand that these continue to be challenging circumstances for our community, your health, safety and wellbeing continues to be our absolute priority. For that reason we continue to work with you to keep our campus covid-secure

Please continue to take steps to look after your health and wellbeing. If you do need support, do not hesitate to reach out – our teams are here to support you   

We are very sorry that this news comes at a time when you may be looking forward to returning to Leeds, to seeing friends, or to using campus facilities to prepare for your assessments. We can give you our assurance that the University will continue to support you and to provide your education until such time as the Government advice permits us to welcome you back to Leeds. Stay safe and take care. 

Best wishes, 

The Student Communications Team 

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