News

Open letter from our President and Vice-Chancellor

Open letter to parents, carers and friends

At the start of a unique academic year, I want to take this opportunity to write to you about the steps we are taking to support our students and keep them safe in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak at the University of Leicester. There is a lot of detail in this letter, which I hope you will find useful and reassuring.

We trust our students and know that the majority will behave responsibly but sadly we know that despite everything we have done, are doing and will do, COVID-19 remains a threat. Which is why we must be prepared.

Buildings and spaces

Our Estates and Accommodation teams have worked tirelessly throughout the summer to adapt both our campus and the halls of residence to the current situation. We have increased signage, introduced one-way systems and screens, and provided hand-sanitiser dispensers in our buildings. Cleaning schedules and processes have been revised and strengthened. Every student (and every member of staff) is being supplied with a safety pack including a face mask, wipes and hand gel.

Catching COVID early

A unique University of Leicester initiative, which we believe will make a real difference, is our system of proactive COVID-19 screening on campus. This is a screening programme for non-symptomatic people. The screening should enable us to spot any potential outbreak before it takes hold and deal with it accordingly. If anyone has symptoms they need to follow the standard NHS guidelines.

Isolate, Report, Test

The key actions which we ask everyone on campus to follow if they develop ANY symptoms – or are waiting for the results of a test – are these: isolate, report and test.

Safety Guidance

We have introduced a Seven Steps to Safety process to keep our student community safe. Posters are displayed around campus and our halls of residence and we are reminding students of this via our social media channels.

Alongside this we have also introduced a Safe Citizen Promise.

Self-isolation rules

A group of students sharing kitchen/bathroom facilities within a hall of residence counts as a household or ‘bubble’ under Government rules. If one of those students shows symptoms or tests positive, the whole household is legally required to self-isolate indoors. This means no-one will be allowed out for exercise, shopping etc., nor will they be able to visit communal areas of the building. This is not a local or student-specific rule, it is a Government-mandated rule that must be followed by any household in the country and fines can be imposed on anyone who breaks it. (This only applies to the designated household. Other students in the same building are not affected.)

Supporting self-isolation

We have developed a comprehensive set of plans and support if any of our students are required to self-isolate. Our process looks after students, whether we have one student isolating or we need to undertake mass isolation. We will support all students, whether in our own accommodation, in private accommodation or commuting to study.

We are already working with our local supermarkets regarding online food deliveries. We will have essential food packages (along with recipe instructions) for those isolating who are unable to access food. We have also arranged for on-site food concessions and take-aways and we will support students with specific dietary requirements. We will also have cleaning and personal hygiene packages available and will support students with their laundry needs wherever we can. We will also ensure that any medication that is required will be delivered.

Tutor support will continue, with additional check-ins and we will have a ‘Social in Isolation’ programme of events to ensure students are not alone.

Safety and wellbeing

Alongside our My Wellbeing app and SafeZone, which all our students are required to use, we have a system of frequent phone/in-person checks to identify any problems or requirements. We will be in regular contact with all students – not just those isolating – throughout the term, monitoring their wellbeing and especially their mental health. Moving away from home can be stressful enough in a normal year. In 2020, we need to all look out for each other even more than usual.

Continued teaching delivery

We want all students to get the full benefit of university education, despite the current situation. This is why we have developed our innovative ‘ignite’ system of dual-mode teaching – providing flexibility as and when we need it. We will always try to provide essential face-to-face teaching but if the situation changes we will move to online delivery as instructed by the Department for Education.

These are extraordinary times, so we have taken extraordinary steps to ensure that the University of Leicester stays open. We have also created a section for parents and guardians within our COVID-19 information hub. If you cannot find what you are looking for there, or if you have any concerns or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us via covid19help@le.ac.uk

You have my personal assurance that everyone at the University is prioritising the wellbeing and safety of your son/daughter and will continue to do so as long as is necessary. Together, we will get through this.

Kind regards

Nishan Canagarajah
President and Vice-Chancellor

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