Government roadmap Step 4 and our transitional ways of working

Email sent to all colleagues on Wednesday 16 June 2021 from Roger Gair, University Secretary.

Dear colleagues,

I write to update you on our coronavirus response and transitional ways of working, including the approach to the continued return of activity to campus.

This approach takes into account the latest update from the Government (on Monday 14 June), that Step 4 on its roadmap for lifting restrictions is now expected to take effect on Monday 19 July 2021. 

As we have outlined previously, the interim and 2021-22 academic plans we have already set out were not dependent upon national restrictions lifting on 21 June, the date that was originally suggested for Step 4. The arrangements for research and teaching for the 2021-22 academic year therefore remain as outlined on 18 May. We expect that there will be a gradual increase in the number of colleagues working on campus, in some capacity, from 19 July onwards, and I share more detail on this below.

Vaccinations and positive case reporting

The NHS vaccination programme is critical to the management of covid-19 and the Government has announced that all adults will be offered their first dose of the vaccine by 19 July, with the booking process expected to open up to all over 18s this week. We would encourage everyone to have vaccinations as soon as possible

May I also remind you to continue testing at home and promptly report a positive test so that we can appropriately manage and support you.

Summer events

In most instances, University events currently planned for the summer – for instance those to help students celebrate graduation – are based on current restrictions, so most of them will proceed as planned. (The implications of the delay to Step 4 for the ‘Summer on Campus’ plans are being reviewed, and further details will be announced in the next week or so. Some LUU planned activities are also affected.)

If you are organising activities over summer, please ensure you comply with current Government rules and our safety on campus guidelines. Socialising rules of meeting in groups of up to six or two households inside, and up to 30 outside, will continue to apply until the Government advises otherwise. 

Future ways of working

The pandemic has required us all to work in different ways and we know from feedback that many in our community want to work differently in future. We are taking the time to understand our experience, so that we can make improvements that enhance and balance effectiveness, efficiency, and staff and student wellbeing. 

A ‘Future Ways of Working’ group has been established to consider longer-term working practices, workspaces and environments – identifying ways of working that are advantageous to the University community and implementing them as standard working practice. 

Whilst our Future Ways of Working group will be planning for the longer term, a Transitional Ways of Working group has been established to focus on our immediate next steps and how we transition some of our activity back to campus, enabling people to move to a hybrid way of working over the coming months. 

Transitional ways of working

Your Head of area will soon share and discuss some briefing materials with you and your colleagues, if they haven’t already done so. To guide our planning for a transitional return to campus, we are working to several assumptions that apply University wide and some that are specific to professional service spaces and spaces in schools/faculties, and these will be part of your local briefing.

Increasing our use of campus will be a managed process that takes several months starting from 19 July at the earliest. We will operate campus with a significantly reduced capacity to manage occupancy and social distancing at appropriate levels, and not all buildings will open immediately.

Outside of teaching and research activity, as defined on 18 May (see above), our colleague return will be from 19 July at the earliest, with those who must come on campus returning first, and with many activities remaining hybrid or fully remote. An exercise is under way via Heads to identify and prioritise those activities and individuals who must return sooner than others, according to agreed principles.

We will, of course, continue to support individuals who need to work on campus because home working is not safe or feasible.

Teaching, study and research space is being reviewed separately. 

Next steps and queries

Briefing materials are in the process of being shared with Heads of professional services, schools, institutes and divisions and you should have recently heard, or will shortly hear, from your management team about our transitional ways of working and their thinking about how it will work in your area.

Please contact your manager after your briefing if you have queries or concerns; managers have an avenue to collate and raise issues and comments. You can also share what’s on your mind directly through our comments and questions MS Form which is anonymous and cannot be answered individually, although comments do help inform future planning and communications.

We are communicating to students about the Government’s latest update, information about vaccinations and reiterating the importance of testing and positive case reporting, as well as updates about planned events. 

We will review Government guidance for higher education when it emerges, which we do not expect to be before Monday 12 July.

As ever throughout this past 15 months, I thank you for your continued dedication in meeting the challenges we are facing and in advance for your support in implementing our transitional ways of working.

Best wishes,
Roger Gair
University Secretary

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