Living with Covid | Arrangements at the University of Leeds
Email from Interim Chief Operating Officer, Dennis Hopper, sent to all staff on Thursday 17 March 2022.
On Monday 21 February, the Government announced its ‘Living with Covid plans.’ We have now reviewed the guidance for Higher Education and share below what this means for us.
The Government guidance makes it clear that there are no COVID-19 restrictions that apply to higher education. This principle underpins our approach, and our arrangements (set out below), are timed to fit with both government guidance and the academic year.
Lateral flow testing
In our previous communications, we shared that it is no longer a requirement for staff and students to conduct twice-weekly testing. On Friday 18 February, our legal agreement to distribute lateral flow devices, ended.
Lateral flow devices will continue to be free from pharmacies and the Government website until Friday 1 April. After this date, the Government will support the availability of COVID-19 tests to those who wish to buy them.
Self-isolation, close contacts, tracing and reporting
From Thursday 24 February, it is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate if you have COVID-19. This has been replaced by advice to stay at home and avoid close contact with others for at least five full days. Our expectation is that colleagues take a community-focused and responsible approach and follow this advice.
Please see NHS guidance on when to stay at home if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you have tested positive.
For colleagues at the University, from Friday 1 April:
• You will no longer need to report a positive test through our COVID-19 report line. This process will end and we will no longer record and publish the number of positive cases in our community.
• If you are unwell and have symptoms of COVID-19, or any other highly infectious disease (such as, flu, sickness or diarrhoea) and are not well enough to work, you should remain at home and report your sickness in the usual way. The Employee self-service form for reporting COVID-19 will end on 1 April.
• If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or other highly infectious diseases, and are well enough to work, you should avoid coming onto campus, until you have spoken to your line manager. Your line manager will discuss with you whether you should be working, and what adjustments might be able to be made for you, which may include working from home until symptoms have eased.
If you remain concerned about returning to campus or your circumstances change, please discuss this with your line manager or human resources manager.
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
In the main we expect staff to work on campus as requested by their line manager and as required by their role.
Whilst particularly vulnerable, clinically extremely vulnerable, and high or higher-risk individuals are not being advised to shield by the Government, we understand the concerns this will raise for staff and students in those groups.
In some circumstances, staff and students may have received advice from their doctor or clinician to take additional precautions and they should continue to follow that advice. Whilst individual risk assessments are not required, anyone with health concerns that affects their ability to work, or study, are encouraged to speak to their line manager, HR, personal tutor or supervisor.
From Friday 1 April, students, staff and visitors will no longer be encouraged or expected to wear face coverings on campus (except for clinical settings where NHS guidance may still require face coverings). We recognise that individuals may still choose to wear a face covering, just as many of our community did even before the pandemic, and this should be respected by all members of our community.
Distancing and room capacities
There is no longer a need for any specific distancing measures to be in place on campus, however colleagues should respect the personal space of others, as we transition away from COVID-19 measures.
Teaching spaces will be reassessed and capacities either revised or reinstated to pre-COVID levels, depending on the ventilation rates (see ‘ventilation’ below). From Friday 1 April, laboratories, offices and meeting rooms can return to their pre-COVID capacity.
Any concerns about room capacities should be directed to your local wellbeing, health and safety representative.
We will continue to ensure that ventilation in indoor spaces meets current guidance and is maintained. Signs that remind people to open windows in areas that require natural ventilation, will stay in place.
Any concerns about ventilation should be directed to the Estates helpdesk.
Signage and posters
COVID related signs and posters, including those detailing room capacities, will be removed from campus (except for clinical areas) over the next few weeks. Please remove any personal instructions or posters you may have displayed in your work area.
Where protective screens have been installed, these can stay in place – recognising that these would take more effort to remove, and they are not able to be easily or quickly reinstalled, if for any reason we need to change our approach in the future.
We all have a responsibility to continue to maintain high personal levels of hygiene, especially by regularly washing our hands. Cleaning materials are provided for everyone to use in all teaching, laboratory and office spaces.
Travel for University activities is permitted, subject to the University travel guidance
From Friday 1 April, we will no longer complete COVID specific risk assessments.
The Government advises that risk assessments by higher education providers should take account of the approach to managing the virus in wider society, in particular that restrictions have been removed and the vaccine programme continues to be rolled out.
In line with Government guidance, the University will maintain and update contingency plans in the event of new coronavirus variants of concern, winter illness or other outbreaks.
You can reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by:
- Getting vaccinated
- Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside
- Staying at home if you are unwell
- Washing your hands and following advice to, ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.
The Coronavirus website will no longer be available from Friday 1 April 2022. Key information from the site will be moved to the relevant University of Leeds websites, with clear signposting to direct any visitors.
COVID steering group
The COVID steering group will cease to meet from Friday 1 April 2022.
Thank you all for your support and effort during what has been a challenging time for the whole community.
The last two years have been difficult for us all, but together we have come through this period of uncertainty, learnt valuable lessons and set ourselves in a strong position for the future.
With my best wishes,
Interim Chief Operating Officer
A similar communication will be shared with students and postgraduate researchers.Posted in: University newsAll Staff Email