Student and staff news and updates

5 February 2021

Email to students (17:05)

Dear student

This week we have a number of updates for you:

  • Education Safeguard update
  • NSS 2021
  • Reminder about conduct during COVID-19
  • New wellbeing support
  • Travel during reading weeks
  • Activities update.

Education Safeguard update

We are fully committed to providing a solid “safety net” for our students through our 2021 Education Safeguard. When it became clear from the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 4 January that the conditions of the current national lockdown would not allow us to open our campus in the way we had planned for and wanted, we considered carefully how the developing situation would affect our students’ ability to study effectively. On 5 January, to reassure our students at a very anxious time, we announced the first elements of our Education Safeguard, including: uncapping reassessments for modules failed at the first attempt; removing the need for evidence to support mitigating circumstances claims in most cases; and opening up options to defer assessments wherever we could.

Since this first announcement, we have committed to extending our Education Safeguard to provide broad and robust support for students’ outcomes for as many of our students as we can. This will include support for students who may have passed all modules, but whose overall outcomes may have been affected by the conditions imposed by the response to the pandemic throughout the 2020/21 academic year. We will apply our Safeguard in all cases where the requirements of external professional and accrediting bodies allow.

We have completed our consultation with academic schools on the Education Safeguard this week and have incorporated feedback from staff and students. The proposals will now move forward for approval from our Education Committee and University Senate next week. These steps are required to ensure that our plans for our Education Safeguard comply with the guidance from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education and the Office for Students.

While some universities have announced similar measures to the initial elements of our Education Safeguard, others are either still reviewing the situation or have decided not to implement a safety net policy. We believe our proposals recognise the difficulties the pandemic has caused and provide strong and appropriate support for our students in these challenging times. We look forward to sharing more details with you all very soon.

National Student Survey 2021

If you are in the final year of your undergraduate or integrated Masters course, from next week you will start to receive communications from Ipsos MORI inviting you to take part in the National Student Survey (NSS). The NSS is an annual survey aimed at final year undergraduates across the UK. It is commissioned by the Office for Students (OfS) and run independently by Ipsos MORI. The NSS gives you the opportunity to tell us what you liked about your studies and what you think could be improved. Exceptionally for this year, the survey also includes six optional questions on the support you have received from the University during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University values your feedback and will use the anonymised results to make improvements to the student experience.

Unless you complete or opt out of the survey, you will continue to receive communications from Ipsos MORI until the survey closes on 30 April 2021. If you do not wish to take part in the survey, you will need to verify your details. If you change your mind at a later date, simply visit the NSS site, click on “complete the survey” and follow the instructions to verify your details.

There is no need to wait until Ipsos MORI contacts you; the NSS is already open and you can complete the survey online using a desktop computer/laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Conduct during COVID-19

Please continue to follow current Government guidelines in relation to the national lockdown – it is against the law to meet socially with family and friends, unless they are part of your household bubble. This means that you must not invite anyone who does not live with you into your accommodation and you must not organise or attend any gatherings, including house parties or similar events, in University or private accommodation.

If you hold a house party, this will be investigated in line with the student discipline process and, if a breach took place, a sanction will be imposed that can include monetary fines, temporary suspension from your studies, or permanent exclusion from the University. The Government announced fines of up to £6400 if you attend a house party, including in halls of residences.

There have been some recent incidences where students have been issued with £800 fines for breaching the Government laws. Those students are also now facing student discipline proceedings.

New wellbeing support – togetherall

We know that you may feel lonely, isolated, stressed about your studies, or overwhelmed during the pandemic. You may find it difficult to open up to others or reluctant to access services due to stigma.

We have partnered with the NHS to provide you free access to togetherall. togetherall is a confidential, online mental health support community, run by trained professionals, and available 24/7. You can talk to others and share how you’re feeling, take courses specific to your concerns – such as on anxiety, sleep or depression – and access resources to help you to take control of your wellbeing.

Register at togetherall.com – click the 'join us' button, then choose ‘I’m from a university or college’. Sign up with your University email address.

If you require emergency support call 999 or for immediate support on campus or in accommodation call Security on 0116 252 2888.

Travel and reading weeks – guideline

Current Government guidance states that if you are back at university you should not travel home for any reason except in exceptional circumstances, for example for mental health reasons. This means you should not travel home during reading week.

Keeping yourself entertained

We appreciate that with the restrictions in place, you may be bored with your routine or want to socialise. Our activities calendar, part of the Life in Lockdown programme, highlights lots of events going on to keep you entertained, well, and connected. Activities in the next few days include HIIT and Zumba workouts, online video games night, LETSDISKO livestream and careers appointments. Sport and Active Life’s month long 5 Ways to Wellbeing Twitter campaign includes offline activities to give yourself a digital detox such as phoning a friend, learning to cook something new, and going for a walk.

Very best wishes,

Prof Graham Wynn, PVC Education
Louise Masterman, Academic Registrar

4 February 2021

Email to staff (12.56)

Dear colleagues

This week’s email covers the support we can provide to help with your mental health, an update on a new student wellbeing resource, our comment on a recent student fees survey, our preparations for the return of students to campus and a reminder about the click and collect service.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Today, 4 February, is national Time to Talk Day – a day for starting conversations about mental health – and this year it feels more important than ever. The past few months have been difficult for us all. If you’re struggling I’d urge you to tell someone – whether that’s a friend, your manager, or external support. Please do not suffer alone.

This week’s Wellbeing Café, on Friday 5 February at 12.30pm, is an opportunity to connect with colleagues and share tips we can all use in our own lives. Following that, at 2.00pm, there is a mindfulness session to help bring you into the present and away from worries about the past or future.

Our Sharepoint site has resources to support you and your team’s mental health. I would also encourage you to complete wellbeing action plans, developed by Mind, to help you and your manager to identify how your emotional health can be best supported.

You can also call the Validium helpline on 0800 358 4568, which is available 24 hours a day. They offer a range of support including counselling, legal and finance guidance, wellbeing advice and specialist manager support.

Supporting student wellbeing

We have partnered with the NHS to provide free student access to additional wellbeing support – togetherall. This online community is aimed at students who are feeling lonely, isolated, stressed about their studies, or overwhelmed during the pandemic, who may find it difficult to open up to others or be reluctant to access services due to stigma. togetherall is confidential, run by trained professionals, and available 24/7. If a student requires emergency support please call 999 or for immediate support on campus or in accommodation call Security on 0116 252 2888.

Students’ Union fees survey

This week, the Students’ Union published the results of a tuition fee survey. We value the voice of our students and will review the outcomes of the survey in detail. We continue to be committed to providing the best student experience we can under the conditions of the global pandemic, whilst supporting students through the disruption and challenges it has caused. The student survey raises many important national issues, including tuition fee rebates. We are committed to working with our Students’ Union to continue to lobby Government and other national agencies on this topic. We have already committed to providing accommodation rent rebates for students in University-managed accommodation (see Tuesday 12 January email, 18:45).

New Government Guidance

Yesterday the government updated its guidance “Students returning to, and starting higher education in Spring Term 2021”. We are currently reviewing the revisions, in order that we can develop robust plans. Areas we need to consider from the new update are:

  • Return of students not on exempted courses to be postponed until at least 8 March with no offer of in-person teaching before then. Universities are asked to encourage students to remain at their current accommodation until the resumption of their in-person teaching, wherever possible.
  • A section outlining the new £800 fine for those attending house parties, including in halls of residence, which will double for each repeat offence to a maximum level of £6,400.
  • An update on Lateral Flow Testing advising students should be tested twice in their first week of return – immediately upon their return and then again three days later. Providers should offer students twice weekly testing thereafter (until the end of March).

COG will be reviewing plans about resumption to campus and we will be providing updates mid-month.

Click and collect

Finally, the click and collect service is now available if you need to collect essential items from campus. You need to gain line manager approval before you book your slot and bookings for both must be made at least 72 hours beforehand so access to campus can be managed. You must follow University and Government guidance and you must not remain on campus any longer than necessary if using this service.

Thank you for your continued efforts during this challenging time. Please take care and stay safe.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

 

 

 

28 January 2021

Email to staff (14:22)

Dear colleagues

I hope you are all keeping safe and well during the national lockdown. This week, the Government has advised that it is progressing plans for England to exit the lockdown, so hopefully we will soon have further guidance to inform our plans to return more actively to campus.

In this week’s update we are covering:

  • Operations Resumption Group
  • Support for homeworking
  • Date for the next ExB live Q&A
  • New lateral flow test site at Glenfield Hospital
  • Access to the library.

Operations Resumption Group

From February, a new group, reporting into COG, will be established to oversee the practical requirements to ensure that we can scale up operations, as swiftly as possible, when the situation allows. The work will align with both a new internal strategic framework that we are developing and with advice and guidance produced by external agencies (Public Health England and Department for Education). This group will be chaired by Neale Goff, Head of Health and Safety. Terms of reference are currently being finalised and will be published shortly.

Continuing to work from home

For many of you working from home it has become the new normal and will be for some time. I recognise that although some of you may welcome this, for some it may cause anxiety; there are resources to support you if this is the case. Our working from home page, on the Resource Hub, includes all the information you need to work from home safely, to support your emotional well-being and to stay connected to your manager and colleagues. If you need specialist equipment, or to collect essential items, this can also be organised, once you have your line manager’s permission.

I also recognise the impact of home schooling, particularly where normal caring arrangements are no longer available or have been reduced. We have updated our guidance for managers to ensure supportive conversations are being had with you and every effort is made to provide flexibility, such as through special leave, annual leave, flexible working, parental leave, a career break or flexible furlough. Please talk to your manager if you are having difficulties.

Next live Q&A – Wednesday 24 February

Thank you to the hundreds of you who joined our Q&A with the Executive Board last week and for your thought-provoking questions. We are in the process of answering the questions we didn’t have the time to get to and will share these with you shortly. The next event is Wednesday 24 February at 2.00pm, so please mark this in your diaries.

New lateral flow testing site opening in Glenfield Hospital

As part of our commitment to provide COVID safe working spaces for all staff and students across our wider University campus, we are opening a new lateral flow testing site at Glenfield Hospital. From Monday 1 February, all University of Leicester staff and students based at the hospital will have access to the new testing facility in the Cardiovascular Research Centre (CVRC).

Testing will be available on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm. If you are based at the hospital and would like to book a test, you will be able to do so via our online booking form.

We are also looking into testing options for staff and students at other off-campus sites across the city and will update you soon.

Remember, although testing is not mandatory, we do strongly encourage staff and students who are working on sites to take regular tests as detecting COVID positive individuals, who subsequently self-isolate, helps to reduce the transmission of the COVID virus to others.

Access to the David Wilson Library

The David Wilson Library remains open but is operating restricted access in line with the Government and University guidance. We are open but unstaffed apart from a reception service, for access to print book stock, PC and printers and individual silent study spaces (group study rooms are closed) for:

  • Students on exempted courses
  • Vulnerable students – this includes those with accessibility needs, those without access to IT or the internet and unable to engage with their programme, and those struggling with access to suitable study space at home or in university or private accommodation.
  • PhD students and academic staff for essential research purposes only.

Please try to minimise your time in the Library and on campus and follow our COVID-19 regulations. We have also extended our click and collect, postal loan and digitisation services to all students and staff to help reduce your need to stay or travel to campus. You can also access remote support from our librarians, Academic Skills Centre, Research Services team and Library enquiry service. Further information is available from the Library website.

Many colleagues have remarked that this lockdown feels the hardest yet. Please continue to stay safe and look after yourselves and do speak to your line manager if you have any concerns or queries. As a reminder, we have our staff coronavirus website. Our wellbeing area on SharePoint also details all the support you have access to as a University staff member.

Best wishes

Martyn

Email to students (15:47)

Dear student

We hope you are all keeping well and safe as we continue teaching in a national lockdown. This week we have updates regarding collecting graduation transcripts, collecting visas (for international students), lateral flow testing at Glenfield and an update on accessing the library.

Graduation certificates and transcripts

Last week we had the pleasure of delivering digital graduation celebrations across our three Colleges and we hope you managed to see and celebrate online and over social media with our graduands. Whilst not replacing the official graduation ceremony, it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their success – especially during this challenging period. Recordings of the events will be shared in next week’s The Citizen.

From February, the graduation team will post award documents for students who were due to attend January 2021 ceremonies. Students will receive a separate email containing tracking details, once documents are issued.

Visa collection

If you are a new international student and you need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP, your visa) and your student ID card from the Student Services Centre after you arrive in the UK, you must complete your period of quarantine before coming onto campus. If your BRP has been delivered to the University, the Student Services Centre will store it securely until you are able to collect it, but you must wait until you have completed your quarantine before coming to collect it.

New lateral flow testing site opening in Glenfield Hospital

As part of our commitment to provide COVID safe working spaces for all staff and students across our wider University campus, we are opening a new lateral flow testing site at Glenfield Hospital. From Monday 1 February, all University of Leicester staff and students based at the hospital will have access to the new testing facility in the Cardiovascular Research Centre (CVRC).

Testing will be available on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm. If you are based at the hospital and would like to book a test, you will be able to do so via our online booking form. We are also looking into testing options for staff and students at other off-campus sites across the city and will update you soon.

Remember, although testing is not mandatory, we do strongly encourage staff and students who are working on sites to take regular tests as detecting COVID positive individuals, who subsequently self-isolate, helps to reduce the transmission of the COVID virus to others.

Access to the David Wilson Library

The David Wilson Library remains open but is operating restricted access in line with the Government and University guidance. We are open but unstaffed apart from a reception service, for access to print book stock, PC and printers and individual silent study spaces (group study rooms are closed) for:

  • Students on exempted courses
  • Vulnerable students – this includes those with accessibility needs, those without access to IT or the internet and unable to engage with their programme, and those struggling with access to suitable study space at home or in university or private accommodation.
  • PhD students and academic staff for essential research purposes only.

Please try to minimise your time in the library and on campus and follow our COVID-19 regulations. We have also extended our click and collect, postal loan and digitisation services to all students and staff to help reduce your need to stay or travel to campus. You can also access remote support from our librarians, Academic Skills Centre, Research Services team and Library enquiry service. Further information is available from the Library website.

Stay safe, follow guidance

Thank you for your continued adherence to Government guidance. Whilst we have had very few students and staff test positive for the coronavirus, it is important that you continue to carefully follow guidance, wherever you are currently living.

Our wellbeing and student services continue to support you wherever you are based. For COVID-specific concerns, please email studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Our Life in Lockdown page also provides further details about where you can get help, look after your mental health, and get involved with activities.

With best wishes.

Prof Graham Wynn, PVC Education

Louise Masterman, Academic Registrar

 

25 January 2021

Email to staff (09:42)

Dear colleagues

Today’s email provides updated details on lateral flow tests for staff, click and collect and access to teaching rooms and an update on how the City is protecting its communities during COVID-19.

Lateral flow test update

Following recent approval from the Department of Health and Social Care, from Monday 25 January until Sunday 14 February, staff and students who are on campus can have a lateral flow test twice a week. Testing is strongly advised, but not mandatory. Please pre-book your 10 minute test as we are currently operating on condensed hours. You can choose from two testing locations: the Charles Wilson building on campus or the Village Hub, Oadby. If you are not working on campus, please do not travel to campus for the sole purpose of a test.

If you test negative, continue to follow Government guidance on handwashing, social distancing and wearing a face covering (unless exempt), as you may still be at an early, but undetectable, stage of infection. If you test positively, you should isolate immediately, follow NHS guidance, and use the reporting form.

Click and collect and access to teaching rooms

If you need to collect essential items from campus, the click and collect service resumes from Monday 25 January. You need to gain line manager approval before you book your slot.

We know that to prepare content to support ignite you may need access to teaching spaces to use lecture capture, log into University networks, and ensure a reliable internet connection. The Peter Williams Lecture Theatre or Ogden Lewis seminar rooms are available to reserve for this purpose.

Bookings for both must be made at least 72 hours beforehand so access to campus can be managed. You must follow University and Government guidance when using these services.

Keep up-to-date where you live

If you’re living in Leicester, Oadby and Wigston, or Leicestershire, please follow the latest updates in your area from your local council:

City rates of infection

The situation locally continues to be very challenging, with Leicester experiencing among its highest rates of infection during the pandemic. The current rate of infection in Leicester is 488 per 100,000 compared to a national average of 331 per 100,000 and it is vitally important that we all continue play our part in suppressing the virus by following the guidance.

Details of local testing sites and how to book a test can be found here for residents of Leicester and here for residents of Leicestershire.

Hospitals

Our hospitals and health services across Leicester and Leicestershire are under significant pressure due to rising admissions and there are now twice as many people in hospital with COVID-19 than there were at the peak of the first wave. We can play our part in supporting hospitals and alleviating the pressure on hospital emergency services by making use of the NHS 111 service before visiting the emergency department. If you have an urgent care need which isn’t an emergency, please contact NHS 111 first by calling 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk.

Many of our colleagues in the College of Life Sciences play a key role in our hospitals and health services and I am sure you will join me in thanking them and their colleagues in the NHS for their selfless dedication and commitment to keeping us all safe during the pandemic.

Vaccination

Although the situation remains challenging, we have hope on the horizon and a way out of the pandemic with the rollout of the vaccine which is now well underway across the city and county. The vaccine is the best way to protect our family, friends and loved ones from the virus.

Leicester has been a hotspot for the spread of misinformation about the vaccine and it is important to stress that the vaccine is safe and effective. Vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and been through rigorous clinical trials and safety checks.

Leicester has hospital vaccination hubs at Leicester General Hospital and Glenfield Hospital and all 132 GP practices across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are now providing vaccinations to all eligible patients through their local Primary Care Network.

Patients will be contacted to book their vaccination when their turn comes and will be advised where to go. There is no need to contact your GP practice or the hospital enquiring about the vaccine. Further information about the rollout and priority groups can be found here.

Volunteers

As Citizens of Change, I expect that many of you will be interested to know how you can play your part in supporting the vaccination rollout. Voluntary Action Leicester are seeking volunteers to act as greeters, stewards and chaperones for patients at vaccination centres across the city and county, and Leicestershire Partnership Trust are asking for the help of qualified health professionals to volunteer to administer the vaccine.

If you are interested in volunteering and playing your part to support the rollout of the vaccination, then please discuss this with you line manager in the first instance.

I hope you are all keeping well. Please take care if you are travelling today following the adverse weather conditions over the weekend.

Best wishes

Martyn

 

22 January 2021

Email to students (17:50)

Dear student

This week’s update includes an information on the development of our new Education Safeguard, how to use our study spaces on campus and at our accommodation during lockdown, Team Leicester and Varsity 2021 our laptop loan scheme and reminders regarding our hardship fund, COVID-19 reporting and our lateral flow testing.

Education Safeguard

Since the announcement of the first elements of our 2021 Education Safeguard on 5 January 2021, we have been working to further develop our policy. Our announcement on 5 January outlined those elements of the Education Safeguard that primarily addressed the most acute student needs, including:

  • uncapping reassessments for modules failed at the first attempt
  • extending the conditions in which students may apply for mitigating circumstances and removing the need for evidence in most cases
  • opening up options to defer assessments.

Work to develop additional elements for the Education Safeguard has been progressing well and these further elements are designed to provide more general protection and support for students who may pass modules, but whose ability to show their full potential may have been affected by the pandemic. We will be consulting with academic schools on these plans next week and more details on the Education Safeguard will be announced shortly after.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education have recently issued guidance on “Safety Net” policies in the sector and we are expecting further guidance on this issue from the Office for Students (OfS) by the end of January. We have also had the opportunity to discuss different approaches universities in the UK are taking at a meeting with over 70 other higher education institutions and we are confident that the framework of measures we are putting in place will provide the level of support and protection you need at this challenging time.

The Education Safeguard, when implemented in full, will deliver on our commitment to protect your educational progression and attainment from any disruption to your studies caused by the pandemic.

How to use your study spaces

If you are on an exempted course with an essential requirement to access study space, are unable to study in your vacation accommodation, are struggling with your mental health, or are undertaking essential postgraduate research activities, you can use the library for individual silent study. Unfortunately, if you do not fall into these groups then under Government guidance, you should not be accessing campus. Students meeting the criteria can either drop in or reserve a space using the room booking system. Computers and printers are also available. Find out more about the library’s services during COVID-19, including revised opening times.

If you are living in University accommodation, we have common rooms and study areas around the site that are open. Each room will have guidance on how many people can use it and how to stay safe. Spaces are cleaned regularly and hand sanitisers are provided. Under current guidance only one household can use each common room at a time. We may need to change the rooms available or temporarily close areas as advice changes. Please speak to the Accommodation Team at your local reception or email accommodation@le.ac.uk for the latest information.

Laptop loan scheme

If you require access to a laptop, the Library has laptops available for you to borrow and use while on campus. They may be borrowed for up to 8 hours or up to 30 minutes before the Library closes, whichever is sooner. There are 100 flexible loan laptops for use on and off campus that may be borrowed for up to four weeks. Request a laptop by emailing library@le.ac.uk.

Hardship fund

If you are struggling financially because of COVID-19, our hardship fund is here to support you. You may have encountered extra costs, such as childcare, travel or for IT equipment during the pandemic. It’s open to all students, including international, part-time and postgraduate.

Accommodation rebate update

Following our announcement last week of our commitment to provide an accommodation rebate for students in University accommodation, we have a received a number of queries from students, and we would like to clarify our commitment as follows.

  • We are committed to providing a meaningful rebate of accommodation rental payments for the full duration of the current national lockdown this term.
  • The rebate is available to all students with a contract for University-owned accommodation, and it is available to all students on all courses who have not accessed their accommodation during the lockdown period.
  • The exact amount and proportion of the full rental to be rebated will be calculated and provided in March when there is a better picture of the full impact of the national lockdown – in the meantime, if you have any queries, please contact accommodation@le.ac.uk.

If you have already returned to your accommodation, please remember the national lockdown rules and public health guidance during this time – you should not be travelling between your term-time address and vacation address unless for essential reasons.

Team Leicester and Varsity 2021 update

Unfortunately British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) has announced the suspension of competitive sport for the rest of this term. Unfortunately it has also been necessary to cancel Varsity 2021 with De Montfort University. As a result of this announcement any students with Team Leicester sports and club memberships will have these refunded. The Sports & Active Life team will be in touch with further details.

Showing symptoms?

If you have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive, please remember to let us know by filling in the online form. This ensures we can organise support, so you are looked after whilst you are self-isolating, as well as helping to prevent the virus’s spread.

On campus? Prebook your lateral flow test

We are delighted to be able to offer twice weekly Lateral Flow testing to all staff and students who are regularly coming onto campus and/or staying in University halls. Our testing centres are located in the Charles Wilson Sports Hall and the Village Hub, Oadby - you can view the opening times for both sites and book a test online.

Although testing is not mandatory, we strongly encourage staff and students who are on campus to take regular tests as detecting COVID positive individuals, who subsequently self-isolate, helps to reduce the transmission of the COVID virus to others.

House parties

Please do not hold house parties in your student accommodation. You must follow current government guidelines in relation to the national lockdown: it is against the law to meet socially with family and friends, unless they are part of your household bubble. This means that you must not invite anyone who does not live with you into your accommodation and you must not organise or attend any gatherings, including house parties or similar events in University or private accommodation. If you hold a house party, this will be investigated in line with the student discipline process and, if a breach took place, a sanction will be imposed that can include monetary fines, temporary suspension from your studies, or permanent exclusion from the University.

Finally, we understand that this third lockdown is challenging for everyone, especially at this time of year with dark mornings and evenings and limited opportunities to get outside. We have organised a range of digital events and activities for you to see your friends and meet other students - please visit here for the programme.

We hope you are all keeping safe and well. If you do need support, please do not hesitate to contact us at studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

With very best wishes

Graham Wynn, PVC Education

Louise Masterman, Academic Registrar

 

13 January 2021

Email to staff (11:55)

Dear colleagues

Today’s update includes new guidance for Leicester-based critical workers, information on the University’s voluntary severance scheme, information we shared with students yesterday on accommodation, gym and tuition fee rebates, further wellbeing guidance, domestic violence support and a reminder of the next Executive Board Live Q&A.

New guidance for Leicester critical workers

The Department for Education (DfE) has released an update on the provision of school places for children of critical workers and those children who are vulnerable. There are currently too many requests for places and the eligibility criteria from the DfE remains unprioritised. To alleviate pressure on schools, education authorities in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have collectively agreed to prioritise on-site spaces for children of the following critical workers:

  • Families with two critical workers or single parent families who are critical workers
  • Critical local authority and public service workers, who cannot perform their tasks from home without their children attending school
  • Front line health and social care workers
  • Officers and staff from the police and fire service
  • School staff
  • Early years staff

Voluntary severance scheme

As a reminder, we have extended the deadline for new applications to the voluntary severance scheme to Friday 26 February. Staff with two or more years’ service at the University of Leicester are welcome to apply for severance under the scheme.

If you are considering voluntary severance, we would encourage you, in the first instance, to talk to your Head of School/Department or Line Manager, as all applications will need to be supported by a business case. 

Further information about the scheme (log-in required), and how to apply, plus guidelines for staff, is now available. If you do not have access to a computer, your Head of School/Department or line manager will be able to provide you with the relevant information.

Accommodation, gym and tuition fee rebates

You will have seen in the media and over social media, that there is currently much discussion about, and calls for, rebates for student accommodation rent, tuition fees and gym memberships. Yesterday we shared our position with students and later today we will be publishing a VC open letter updating parents and carers.  

Wellbeing 

We’ve received really positive feedback on Teams-free Fridays and the impact this is having on how staff are feeling. Please do try and keep to the digital wellbeing guidelines (log-in required) where possible, as they aim to help you manage the time you are spending in online meetings during the national lockdown. 

I’d like to remind you about the facilitated sessions we have introduced to enable you to connect with other colleagues. These sessions will provide you with an opportunity to take some time away from working each Friday (for the duration of the national lockdown) and started last Friday with a weekly Wellbeing Café on TEAMS. This will be an informal opportunity to join the Staff Health and Wellbeing Team for a coffee to discuss any aspect of your wellbeing and share experiences, if you wish, with others. Details on how to join this café will be available on our staff wellbeing pages (log-in required). The feedback from the first session was very positive. 

Other planned sessions are detailed below and future plans will be informed by your input from our Wellbeing Cafés:

  • Wellness Action Plans facilitated by Cathy Howells, OH Services Manager
  • Stretch classes facilitated by a trained physiotherapist
  • Physical activity talk – this will include a 30 minute walk or movement to suit your needs (launch of a walking/movement challenge)
  • Team quiz hour
  • Directed meditation, facilitated by Dr John McDonald
  • How to Remain Connected

Domestic violence support

Some people will be at greater risk of domestic violence during the lockdown period and may be feeling unsafe at this time. Given the rise in domestic abuse during the pandemic, we have developed a Domestic Violence Guidance document. The purpose of this guidance is to help ensure that staff who are subjected to domestic violence (or coercion), are empowered and supported, regardless of whether they are ready to disclose or report at this stage.  

There is also a separate Domestic Violence and Coercion page on our EDI webpages which lists our internal support information plus local and national support agencies. This page also defines types of domestic violence and coercion to assist in seeking the right help and support.

Executive Board Live Q&A 

The next Live Q&A with the Vice-Chancellor and Executive Board takes place on Wednesday 20 January at 2pm. As usual, the Q&A will take place on Microsoft Teams and you can join the event by clicking here on the day, where you will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

Finally, with schools currently closed, some of you may have children at home or have other caring responsibilities that mean that you are unable to commit to your usual full day of work or working pattern. We understand the added pressure this can bring when you are juggling this with working life. Please do reach out and talk to your line manager if you need support during this time.

Thank you for you continued support and patience. I hope you are all keeping well.

Best wishes

Martyn

 

12 January 2021

Email to students (18:45)

Dear student

You will have seen in the media, and over social media, that there is currently much discussion about, and calls for, refunds for accommodation rent, tuition fees and gym memberships.

This email provides an update on the University’s position regarding refunds and includes information on:

  • accommodation rebates
  • tuition fee refunds
  • gym membership refunds
  • travelling to campus
  • lateral flow testing

Accommodation rebate

We understand the significant disruption the latest national lockdown has caused for student accommodation arrangements. As we communicated last week, this is something we are actively reviewing and will continue to review as the situation develops in the coming weeks. It is important that our response is consistent with Government advice, and is fair to all our students, who live in very different accommodation settings with varying contractual agreements.

However, we also recognise the anxiety this issue is causing some of our students and your wellbeing must come first, so we would like to provide you with some further information at this time. We were the first UK university to offer a range of flexible accommodation contracts at the start of the academic year and we now wish to make the following commitments:

We will lobby Universities UK (UUK) and Government to ensure that there is a fair outcome for all students and universities who have been financially impacted by the recent lockdown.

Accommodation rebates will be provided to students living in our own halls of residence. The exact amount of this rebate will be calculated in March, once it is possible to assess the full impact of the current national lockdown.

The rebate will be available upon request to all students in University-owned accommodation studying non-exempted courses and who have not made any use of their accommodation since the commencement of the national lockdown in January.

The rebates will be processed in the April rent payment instalment.

We will work with our Students’ Union to lobby private accommodation providers and landlords to offer comparable levels of rent rebate.

Our COVID-19 Hardship Fund is available to be accessed by students struggling to make ends meet during this time of national crisis.

We will contact you in March to update you and advise of next steps.

Tuition fee refunds

The issue of tuition fee refunds is an important national debate and not one that our University can resolve in isolation. Therefore, we are working with Universities UK and are waiting for Government guidance on this matter.

We are writing to the Government in a joint letter with our Students’ Union about this issue. To date, Government advice has been that universities should continue to charge the normal fee levels, because we are continuing to provide an education leading to degree level outcomes that support future employment opportunities. As we wait for any further guidance, our focus remains on providing you with the best education and student experience we can during this very challenging time.

The University’s ignite teaching method was developed specifically to enable us to be agile and responsive to changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the planning and delivery of ignite our priority was and is the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students, and to safeguard our local and national communities to the best of our ability.

The University has undertaken extensive work to develop new teaching materials and approaches, enhance specific support services and adapt the delivery of all of our services to meet the many difficulties and challenges the pandemic has caused. We have also put in place measures to try to maintain as much of the wider student experience as possible, while maintaining our focus on keeping you all safe. Throughout this academic year to date, our approach has kept the COVID-19 infection rate in our University community very low.

During the first term of the 2020/21 academic year, we provided as much in-person teaching as safety allowed. However, because of the changing COVID-19 safety considerations, the national lockdown in November 2020 and the Government’s end-of-term requirements in December, it was not possible to deliver as much in-person teaching as we had hoped. In all cases, the ignite approach has meant in-person teaching was replaced with comprehensive, planned and prepared online teaching, so our students continued to receive a high quality education in a world-leading research intensive university. We are currently evaluating a wide range of student and staff feedback on the delivery of ignite in term one, which was gathered by Schools in November and December. We are keen to learn from the experiences of our students and enhance our online provision this term and into the future. We will consult with our Students’ Union throughout this evaluation and update you on our findings.

We will continue this flexible approach throughout the rest of this academic year, ensuring that we adhere to Government guidance at all times and that we provide educational continuity for all of our students, so you are able to receive your progression and award decisions on time.

We are very conscious that this is a very challenging time for our students, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your studies in many ways. This is why we are working on an Educational Safeguard to help support the progression and outcomes of all of our students. Further elements of our 2021 Safeguard will be announced in the coming weeks and will provide your educational outcomes with the protection you need at this time.

Gym membership refunds

We are very conscious that the University’s gyms have been subject to various closure periods since the start of the current membership year. A decision has been made to issue refunds proportionate to the time that both facilities have been closed.

The level and timing of refunds will vary depending on your membership category, and further details are provided here. The Sports and Active Life team will be in contact with individuals to notify you of the refund process.

We are also waiting for an announcement from BUCS regarding the future plans for competitive sport this academic year and will communicate further once these details are shared.

Travelling to campus

The latest Government advice states that you should remain in your vacation accommodation and should not return to university, unless you are:

  • an international student and have remained in the UK
  • an international student who has arrived in the UK and you do not have alternative accommodation
  • a student who has remained in your university accommodation over the winter break
  • a student without access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your vacation accommodation
  • a student who needs additional support, including those with mental health and wellbeing issues
  • a commuter student (on an exceptional basis) where you are not in the first tranche of returners, but require university facilities to access online learning (for example, because you do not have access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your usual accommodation)
  • a researcher or a research student who requires access to specialist facilities for your work. If you are able to work from home, then please do so.

Additional support is also available to students via the Student Hardship Fund and/or the laptop loan facility.

Lateral flow testing

Please remember, if you are returning to the University, you will need to take a test upon arrival with our own testing service – please book your appointment here. Until you receive a negative result, usually received the same day, you should not come onto campus, and you should minimise social contact with others.

It is a difficult time for students around the country. You are all having a very different student experience to the one you and we had hoped for, and you are all having to adapt to learning online. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and understanding. We are incredibly proud of how well you have responded during the pandemic and would like to reassure you that we are absolutely committed to securing and protecting your educational progression and attainment this year.

Please take good care during this difficult time and thank you for your continued patience and support.


With very best wishes

Graham Wynn         Geoff Green
PVC Education           Registrar & Secretary

 

08 January 2021

Email to staff (11:15)

Dear colleagues

Yesterday afternoon, we received further guidance from the Government about how we are to support our staff and students during this third national lockdown. We are now working our way through the guidance and will continue to provide updates as necessary. However, work is already well underway to adjust our operations to make sure we’re doing everything we can to minimise the impact on both staff and students. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those staff who have responded so quickly and made the required, immediate changes following the latest lockdown

Today’s update includes:

  • Guidance issued to students
  • Our current position on this year’s Educational Safeguard policy
  • IT support available for staff
  • Logistics of being on campus during the lockdown including critical workers information
  • Staff testing
  • Research on campus
  • Safety on campus
  • Wellbeing.

Student support and communications
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday, we emailed students about what the latest national lockdown means for them and provided information on how we will continue to support and guide them through this challenging time.

As the national situation has progressed throughout this academic year, we have been developing a new Education Safeguard policy appropriate for our current situation. This Safeguard is intended to mitigate any detriment to a student’s academic performance resulting from disruption to their studies caused by the pandemic. The key elements are:

  • The uncapping of re-assessment, meaning students who retake any failed module will not be capped at 40% if they retake it.
  • Extending the conditions in which students may apply for mitigating circumstances and removing the need for evidence in most cases.
  • The option to defer January and/or May assessments until August where applicable.

IT support
Estates and Digital Services will resume appointments for the collection of devices and fixing of IT issues from Monday 11 January. This was paused earlier this week whilst they worked out staffing in light of the new restrictions. If you need to come to campus for this reason, more detail on the arrangements for this will be provided by the IT team.

Authorisation letters for critical workers
We are re-instating the authorisation to travel letter for staff designated as key workers to work on campus. We are also issuing letters for staff classified as critical workers by the Government to confirm this status, so that their children have the opportunity to attend school if places are available.

Yesterday, Professional Services Directors received details of the categorisation of key and critical workers during the lockdown, as well as the letter templates. Please liaise with your line manager to check if your role is classified as a critical or key worker and to request a letter.

As we are in a national lockdown, it is important that only approved staff should come to campus. If you are unsure if you should travel to work, please contact your line manager before travelling. We would also ask staff to be mindful of the pressures on schools to cope with increasingly high numbers of vulnerable and critical workers’ children.

Testing arrangements for staff
We have now had further guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) regarding lateral flow testing for staff. At this stage, staff are requested to undertake just the initial two tests with further details on the introduction of a weekly staff testing programme to be issued shortly.

Research on campus
Work is ongoing to review all research currently approved for on-campus activity and associated risk assessments, using our established principles and guidance. This work will be completed in the next few days, and if your on-campus research activity is approved, you will automatically be issued with a letter from the University authorising your travel to work. In the interim, staff and postgraduate students who already have approval to undertake on-campus activity can continue with this unless they have been advised otherwise.

Safety on campus
For those colleagues who are required to work on campus, I’d like to remind you to adhere to the following guidance:

  • The 2 metre social distancing rule will continue throughout our campus and accommodation.
  • The wearing of face coverings inside buildings, unless there is a medical indication not to wear one, is mandatory (it is not necessary inside single occupancy offices). Please provide and use your own face covering. If you do not have one, then we will provide single use masks. These are available from your school, college or department. Reusable face coverings are on order and will be provided when they are arrive.
  • Wearing a face covering around campus and during travel to campus is advisory but not mandated (unless for example, using public transport where it is mandated by the transport carrier).
  • We have produced an e-learning training package detailing the safety precautions staff should be aware of. It is mandatory that all staff view and complete these prior to their return to campus (or as soon as possible for staff who have already returned).
  • Please download the Safezone App and when you arrive on campus please check-in. Buildings that are open require swipe card access to enter. Please bring your ID card if you are coming to campus. Find out what’s open and closed on campus online.

Wellbeing
As I mentioned in my email on Tuesday, the wellbeing of our staff and students continues to be our priority. Although we're making Friday a Teams-free day for formal work meetings, I’d encourage you to explore some of the facilitated sessions that our Staff Health and Wellbeing team are running. These sessions give you a chance to take some time away from work and connect with others. The first of these, a weekly Wellbeing Café starts today (Friday 8 January) at 12.30pm, and is a chance for you to have a virtual coffee with the Staff Health and Wellbeing team and discuss your wellbeing and experiences with others. The link to join is here.

As ever, thank you for your ongoing support during this challenging time. We will continue to update you as soon as we have further information.

I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Best wishes

Martyn

Email to students (17:15)

Dear students

This update follows on from our email sent after the announcement of a third national lockdown on Tuesday 5 January. Today, we wanted to provide further information on topics that have been raised by students this week.

Today’s email includes a number of important updates. Please take the time to read through all of them, as they include information on:

  • Face-to-face teaching this term
  • 2021 Education Safeguard
  • Remote studying in semester 2
  • The University hardship fund
  • Inbound UK travel update
  • Wellbeing support
  • Safe accommodation
  • Campus facilities
  • Lateral flow testing.

Teaching update

We would like to remind you that all teaching, unless you are on an exempted course, has now moved fully online and no face-to-face teaching will take place until further notice. Currently, we do not have a clear date when face-to-face teaching and the staggered return to university may be able to resume, however it will not be before mid-February and will be dependent on Government guidance.

Our 2021 Education Safeguard

Following the announcement of the first elements of our Education Safeguard policy for 2021 on Tuesday 5 January, we wanted to re-emphasise and clarify some points about our policy for the 2020/21 academic year.

Firstly, we would like to say that we very much appreciate the substantial challenges and difficulties that many students are facing at this time. We fully recognise that some students are working in situations that will not allow them to demonstrate their full potential and we are committed to developing a package of measures for our 2021 Education Safeguard that will offer a strong level of protection for all of our students, which takes full account of all of the circumstances particular to this academic year.

We would like to emphasise that a number of significant elements of the Safeguard have yet to be confirmed and announced. Tuesday’s announcement focused on measures students can action quickly, such as mitigating circumstances applications or decisions around deferrals, or that could reassure students concerned about failing particular assessments.

Our future development of the Safeguard policy will focus on providing broader support for the outcomes and progression of students across the 2020/21 academic year. In particular, further developments will provide more protection for students who may pass all of their modules, but do not wish to defer their assessment, and are concerned about their overall attainment.

We are currently working on a number of actions to provide a fair and strong Safeguard for all our students, but these ideas take time to model, analyse and evaluate. It is important that we ensure there is fair and robust support for all of our students, studying on all years across our very broad and varied suite of courses. We would ask you to please bear with us while we complete this work and be assured that we will make every effort to protect all of our students’ educational attainment during these challenging times.

We wanted to make this statement at this time to reassure you that work is active and ongoing to provide you with the support you need. The wellbeing and attainment of our students is always paramount in our planning and there is nothing we want more than success for you all.

We will be consulting with the Students’ Union during the development of our Safeguard policy and will keep you updated on progress in the coming weeks.

Remote study in semester 2

Students who wish to study remotely for all of semester 2 should request this via their School. It may not be possible to approve all requests, as it is dependent on programme requirements.

If you are a home student receiving Student Loan Company (SLC) funding and you wish to study remotely for semester 2, please make sure you are aware of any impact this may have on your SLC funding and that you have given this due consideration. If you opt for remote learning and live at home, the Maintenance Loan element of any SLC funding may be paid at a different rate. You are responsible for informing the SLC of any changes in your circumstances, including your address during the academic year so that you can be correctly re-assessed if required.

If you are an international student and you have a current valid Tier 4 visa, the University can continue to sponsor you whilst you remain engaged with your studies in the UK or overseas and you intend to return to full-time campus-based study when circumstances allow. If you do not have a current Tier 4 visa because you are a new international student or because your visa was cancelled due to a break in your studies, we will not issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to obtain a visa at this time as you do not need to travel to the UK. We will issue you with a CAS to obtain a visa before you return to full-time, campus-based study. If you have any questions, including about eligibility for the Graduate route that permits successful graduates to remain in the UK for two years post-study, please contact visas@le.ac.uk.

Hardship fund

If you are struggling financially because of COVID-19, our hardship fund is here to support you. We recognise you may have encountered extra costs, such as for childcare, travel or IT during the pandemic. Our hardship fund is open to all students, including international, part-time and postgraduate.

Inbound travel update

Today, the UK Government updated regulations on travel to the UK. This will mean that all international students will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours before travelling to the UK. On arrival, students from countries not in the travel-corridor will need to self-isolate for 10 days, while all international students will need to fill in a passenger locator form and adhere to national lockdown rules.

Wellbeing

We know that many of you are undertaking remote assessments in January. We recognise these are challenging times for you and that COVID-19 may have impacted your ability to study. As a reminder, we have extended the conditions in which you may apply for mitigating circumstances and removed the requirement for evidence in most cases. We have dedicated wellbeing support in place, including mental health support, which you can find out about on our Life in Lockdown pages, as well as activities to keep you occupied.

From Monday 11 January, the Students’ Union have giveaways, as well as craft and wellbeing sessions, as part of their online destress campaign.

As a University student, you also have access to our MyWellbeing app, empowering you to make positive changes to your physical and mental wellbeing. Download from the App and Play stores, using your full University email address to register.

We’re also aware that the pandemic has made it harder to be with others, which may cause feelings of loneliness. The NHS have provided tips to support you if you are struggling with this.

Safe accommodation

Given the increase in cases of domestic violence in line with previous lockdown restrictions, we have continued to provide temporary accommodation for our students who need to leave their current housing and have no other safe place to stay. This accommodation will be provided with no associated costs to you and the length of stay will be agreed on a case-by-case basis. To access temporary accommodation if you require safety from a domestically abusive lockdown household, or to just discuss your support options, please complete a disclosure form. If you require an urgent response, please contact Security on 0116 252 2888 who are available 24/7.

Campus facilities

For an up-to-date list of Library open hours and services, please visit here.

For details of campus building and facilities open, please visit here

Lateral flow testing 

If you are returning to campus for the first time in 2021, you must have negative results from two lateral flow tests before accessing any University buildings apart from your own accommodation. Online booking is available. We are currently refining the testing service we offer in light of the latest restrictions and we will communicate the new process as soon as can. 

Finally, please ensure you stay safe, follow Government guidance and isolate, report (complete the student form) and test (book if not yet tested) if you experience any COVID symptoms.

We will continue to keep you updated regularly. Please visit our web area or follow us @uniofleicester and @leicstudentlife on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information.

Please take good care of yourselves during this very challenging time.

Very best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

05 January 2021

Email to students (18:21)

Dear students

With the news yesterday of a further national lockdown, we are now urgently working with the latest measures to ensure we are operating in a compliant and safe way. Above all, we are working hard to ensure that none of you are disadvantaged academically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At this stage, we are still expecting further Government guidance and information, so we will continue to update you as new information comes in, but today we wanted to update you on:

  • Our approach to teaching this term and your place of study
  • Educational support
  • Wellbeing and engagement
  • Campus support and facilities
  • Accommodation rent
  • A reminder on our reporting approach and staying safe.

Teaching update
All teaching, unless you are on an exempted course, has now moved online and no face-to-face teaching will take place before 22 February 2021 at the earliest. You will receive an update from your school before the start of Semester Two teaching, explaining what this means for you on your course. We will continue to review our approach at the start of February, in line with Government advice.

Your study base
If you have not yet travelled back to Leicester, you are advised to remain at your winter break location to carry out your studies during this period of lockdown. We realise some students may need to return earlier for other reasons, for example, if you do not have access to appropriate alternative accommodation, facilities, studying space, or you need to return for health reasons. If you think you fit into one of these circumstances then please return to Leicester ensuring that you receive two negative test results before you start accessing university campus facilities (apart from your own accommodation). 

You can book a lateral flow test.

Educational support and an “Education Safeguard” for 2021
As the national situation has progressed throughout this academic year, we have been working on the development of a new “Education Safeguard” policy appropriate for our current situation. This Safeguard is intended to mitigate any detriment to your academic performance resulting from disruption to your studies caused by the pandemic.

We are not able to detail all of the elements of the Safeguard at this time, as work is still ongoing, but we would like to share some elements with you today:

  • Uncapping of Re-Assessment: wherever possible, any students who fail any module they are taking this year will have a re-assessment opportunity that is “uncapped”. In usual circumstances, re-assessments are capped at the module pass mark (typically 40%) and this new policy will mean that the full mark obtained at the point of re-assessment will apply (e.g. a mark of 60% obtained in a re-assessment will apply rather than a capped mark 40%). Wherever possible, we are working to apply this policy to assessments for the whole academic year 2020/21.
  • Mitigating Circumstances: We realise that the recent change in Government guidance may be disruptive to your studies and we have extended the conditions in which students may apply for mitigating circumstances and removed the requirement for evidence in most cases. This includes both physical and mental health conditions relating to individual students – you will not be required to provide evidence to support claims for mitigating circumstances on this basis. This will also be the case if you are claiming mitigating circumstances resulting from illness of a close family member. We would like to emphasise that mitigating circumstances may apply, for example, if you experience difficulty studying at or away from university or if COVID-related anxiety is having an effect on your ability to study. Apply for mitigating circumstances to be considered
  • A Choice to Defer your January and/or May Assessments: If you feel that you are not in a position to take your January or May assessments and would like to consider deferring these assessments to the August assessment window, then we would like to open up this option for you. Deferral may not be possible in all cases and it will important to consider the implications of deferral with your School, but we would like to offer as much flexibility as we can. If you do choose to defer your assessment, your award or progression decision will be delayed and it is important to consider fully the best options for you with your School. Further details on how to defer will follow shortly.

As mentioned above, these measures do not constitute the full extent of the Safeguard, but we wanted to reassure you that this work is ongoing. Our fundamental aim is to protect your educational progression from any disruption to your studies you may have experienced.

Please note that in some circumstances professional accreditation or regulatory requirements may mean we are unable to apply some or all of the Safeguard to a given programme and you will be contacted by your School in due course if this is the case. 

Students on distance learning programmes should note that similar changes are being made to examinations and assessments in their programmes. Details will be sent to you as soon as possible. 

Social Events and Wellbeing
We realise many of you will have been planning your return to campus, and looking forward to seeing your friends, new and old, again. Unfortunately, for most of you this will now not be possible for several more weeks. We have extended our Life in lockdown social programme, which will run throughout January and February, and will provide you with opportunities to engage with friends in a digital environment. We will also continue to enhance and develop our mental health support services, and our Students’ Union offers signposting advice.  

Campus Support and Facilities
Currently the following services and buildings on campus remain open, however we will continue to monitor this.

  • Library
    • The David Wilson Library building will remain open but with restricted access and reduced opening times from Wednesday 6 January. The building will be open for individual silent study (drop-in and bookable) for students on exempted courses and with an essential requirement to access study space and print book stock, for students classed as vulnerable, and for essential PGR and research activities only. Group study rooms will not be available. Revised opening hours and more detail.
  • George Davies / Maurice Shock
  • Fielding Johnson (South Wing), including the Ogden Lewis suite
  • Nursery
  • RKSCB – for research only and medical/allied health teaching
  • Charles Wilson

These buildings will remain open, but we are currently making plans and undertaking further risk assessments to revert back to the 2m+ social distance rule from the current 1m+ to increase safety measures in light of the new virus variant.

The following buildings and facilities are now closed:

  • Percy Gee – however, the Students’ Union will be operating digitally and work is underway to create a pop-up service within the Library
  • Remainder of Fielding Johnson
  • Astley Clarke
  • Ken Edwards
  • Attenborough Arts Centre
  • Sports Centres
  • Botanic Gardens

Full list of all building closures

For students on exempted courses where there is still some face-to-face teaching for the next few weeks, these changes may result in some late changes to your teaching timetable – please look out for this in your personal timetable or in communications from your School.

Accommodation Rent
We do understand that although you will continue to receive your educational experience online through our blended learning approach, many of you will be unable to take up your accommodation package with us. We are committed to reviewing this, and once we have understood the full picture and the effect on students, we will be able to determine the best course of action and we will communicate this to you as soon as possible. We can reassure you that we will work transparently with the Students’ Union in the coming days to consider fully the issues and the options. It is important that we are fair to all of our students, as you live in very different accommodation settings.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, support continues to be available via the Hardship Fund

Lateral Flow Testing 
If you are returning to campus for the first time in 2021, you must have negative results from two lateral flow tests before accessing any University buildings apart from your own accommodation. Online booking is available. We are currently refining the testing service we offer in light of the latest restrictions and we will communicate the new process as soon as can. 

Finally, please ensure you stay safe, follow Government guidance and isolate, report (complete the student form) and test (book if not yet tested) if you experience any COVID symptoms.

We will continue to keep you updated regularly. Please visit our web area or follow us @uniofleicester and @leicsstudentlife on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information.

Please take good care of yourselves during this very challenging time.

Very best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

Email to staff (17:15)

Dear colleagues

The COVID Oversight Group met this morning to discuss the implications of the third National Lockdown. Whilst no further government guidance has been provided at this stage, we have been working with the latest measures to ensure we are compliant and safe.  

We will increase the email briefings this week to communicate how we will operate and support you all during this period. This is a long and detailed update – please read it in full to ensure that you are fully briefed on the latest changes to the University’s operations. 

Today’s update outlines:

  • Information on essential staff permitted to work on campus
  • Update on Department for Education critical workers definition for access to face-to-face schooling for children
  • Information on our campus operations
  • Lateral Flow Testing and Vaccinations
  • Supporting our students
  • Update on research on campus
  • Travel
  • Digital Wellbeing
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Domestic Violence Guidance

Essential Staff Permitted to Work on Campus
We are currently reviewing which staff are designated as essential and allowed onto campus during the lockdown. All staff will require authorisation to be on campus and you will be notified in writing this week if you are designated as an essential worker. This letter can be used if challenged when travelling to campus. At this stage only those staff whose roles have previously been designated as business critical or staff who undertake research currently approved for on-campus activity should come to campus. If you are unsure, you should not travel to work on campus – contact you line manager for guidance.

Critical Workers in Higher Education
The Department for Education has confirmed that HE teaching and support staff involved in the delivery of higher education are considered critical workers, vital to the continuation of education – this includes higher education staff that are working on campus or working from home. Please see the following link for guidance on Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings.

Campus Operations
Based on the current Government guidance available, the following services and buildings on campus remain open. This may change as we receive more detailed guidance, so we will monitor this and update you accordingly.

The following buildings or facilities remain open:

  • Library;

    The David Wilson Library building will remain open but with restricted access and reduced opening times from Wednesday 6 January. The building will be open for individual silent study (drop-in and bookable) for students on exempted courses and with an essential requirement to access study space and print book stock, for students classed as vulnerable, and for essential PGR and research activities only. Group study rooms will not be available. Revised opening hours and more detail

  • George Davies / Maurice Shock
  • Fielding Johnson (South Wing), including the Ogden Lewis suite
  • Nursery
  • RKSCB – for research only and medical/allied health teaching
  • Charles Wilson

These buildings will remain open, but we are currently making plans and undertaking further risk assessments to revert back to the 2m+ social distance rule from the current 1m+ to increase safety measures in light of the new virus variant.

The following buildings and facilities are now closed:

  • Percy Gee – however, the Students’ Union will be operating digitally and work is underway to create a pop-up service within the Library
  • Remainder of Fielding Johnson
  • Astley Clarke
  • Ken Edwards
  • Attenborough Arts Centre
  • Sports Centres
  • Botanic Gardens

Full list of all building closures.

Lateral Flow Testing and Vaccinations
If you are working on campus, you are now offered regular asymptomatic testing. We are intending that this will be in the form of two lateral flow tests per week, including staff within the Nursery and PGR students. Online booking is available.

We are currently refining the testing service we offer in light of the latest restrictions and we will communicate the new process as soon as can.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 please do not attend work and book a test through the NHS.

Our Occupational Health team have confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccine is not being released outside of the NHS at this stage. We will ensure that we ask for updates if the situation changes.

Supporting our Students 

Work is underway to provide further support to our student community. It is important that we have clear plans for their educational support, their wellbeing and accommodation needs. Support is in place for all our students – those who are already in Leicester in our own or private rented accommodation, students who will be studying from home, new starters and international students. We will update them regularly with key information. We are currently working on the following:

  • Assessment and educational support
    We are creating a new student education support package to ensure we are able to support all our students, this will include enhanced mitigation circumstances and options to defer.

  • Accommodation rent  
    Although students continue to receive their educational experience through our blended ignite offer, the news of this national lockdown means many are unable to take up their accommodation package with us. We are committed to reviewing our approach to this, alongside all other implications of the national lockdown. Once we have understood the full picture and the effect on students, we will be able to determine the best course of action and we will communicate this as soon as possible. We will work with the Students’ Union in the coming days to consider fully the issues and the options.  

  • New starters
    Whilst we work through the implications for new PGT programmes starting this January, we are sending out a holding communication to all new January starters, reassuring them and signposting them to the relevant services across the University. 

    Further work will be undertaken in the next couple of days between the Deans of Education and relevant Professional Services teams to ensure that the correct advice is given to all new students starting in January. We anticipate that our approach may vary by school. As soon as decisions are finalised this week we will update staff and future students. 

    Many new students will be in different circumstances; some may have arrived in the UK, so may be travelling this week, others may have yet to apply for their visa. It’s therefore important we take the time to ensure that the information about their mode of study, start dates and arrival have been worked through by all areas of the University. 

  • Wellbeing and Engagement 
    Our Life in Lockdown programme will be extended throughout January and February and will include events and activities led by teams from Sports, Attenborough Arts, Careers, The Chaplaincy and the Students’ Union, covering everything from finance advice, yoga, global cafés and a digital celebration of the Chinese New Year. 

Research
Over the next few days, all research currently approved for on-campus activity will be reviewed from the perspective of risk and priority using our established principles and guidance and will continue to be managed locally by the Colleges.

Staff and PGR safety remains paramount and risk assessments will be reviewed. Some activity will be paused, but research that meets safety and prioritisation criteria, and cannot be carried out from home, will continue. For any immediate queries, please contact the Research Co-ordinators in your School/Department.

Travel
There is currently no travel permitted by staff or students. If you need to travel for work and deem this as essential, please contact your line manager for approval.

Digital Wellbeing

We’d like to remind you of the steps we have been taking to address our wellbeing as most of us continue to work from home. These will continue through the current lockdown:

  • Please try not to send emails before 8am or after 5pm, Monday to Friday, and do not send emails on weekends (unless you are working an event for example) or whilst you are on leave
  • Microsoft Teams meetings should be arranged for no more than 50 minutes to allow attendees to take a break between; if you need to have a longer meeting it should not exceed 90 minutes and please avoid scheduling meetings outside 9am to 5pm and between 12.30pm to 1.30pm
  • Throughout the new lockdown, every Friday is a Microsoft Teams free day – so please avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays and reschedule meetings you have in the diary

Health and Wellbeing
The wellbeing of our staff and students continues to be our priority. To support staff through this latest national lockdown, we will be running a number of facilitated sessions to enable you to connect with others.

These session will provide you with an opportunity to take some time away from working each Friday for the duration of the national lockdown. These will start this Friday 8 January with a weekly Wellbeing Café on Teams.

This will be an informal opportunity to join the Staff Health and Wellbeing Team for a coffee to discuss any aspect of your wellbeing and share experiences, if you wish, with others. Details on how to join this café will be available on our staff wellbeing pages.

Plans for the following Friday sessions are detailed below. Other sessions will be informed by your input from our Wellbeing Cafés:

  • Wellness Action Plans facilitated by Cathy Howells, OH Services Manager
  • Stretch classes facilitated by a trained physiotherapist
  • Physical Activity Talk – this will include a 30 minute walk or movement to suit your needs (launch of a walking/movement challenge)
  • Team Quiz hour
  • Directed Meditation, facilitated by Dr John McDonald
  • How to Remain Connected

In addition, we have extended the date for you to complete the current Wellbeing at Work Questionnaire until 11 January 2020 to enable you to share with us how we can support you following this week’s lockdown announcement.

Domestic Violence Guidance
This week, we are launching our Domestic Violence Guidance. In his announcement on Monday evening, the Prime Minister made it clear that a reason for the need to be out of your home is to flee domestic violence. The University considers that domestic violence is wholly unacceptable, and responsibility for domestic violence lies with the perpetrator.

We are committed to raising awareness of domestic violence and providing guidance for both employees and managers. The purpose of our guidance is to help ensure staff who are subjected to domestic violence (or coercion), are empowered and supported, regardless of whether they are ready to disclose or report at this stage. The guidance will be hosted on the Staff Wellbeing webpages and we will share this link when it is live.  

Finally, please ensure you stay safe, follow Government guidance and isolate, report and test if you experience any COVID symptoms. Thank you for your continued support during this very challenging time.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

 

04 January 2021

Email to students (21:59)

Dear students  
 
This evening the Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, has announced a third national lockdown which will take effect from midnight tonight. This step is necessary to bring the new variant of the Coronavirus under control.

Since last March we have responded quickly to new Government guidance and we will do so again. It is clear that we must make further changes to our operations to support the national effort and keep our community safe, but we need some time to digest the detail of the new restrictions. 

Your health, safety and wellbeing remain our priority and will guide our plans as we adapt to this new situation. We will review all the available information tomorrow and will then outline to you how we will continue to provide the very best education and support we can during this challenging time. Please be assured, our plans will protect your educational progress and support your wellbeing.  
 
There will be no face-to-face teaching (unless the course is exempted) until mid-February at the earliest. Please continue to follow Government guidance and do not travel to the University unless you need to return for health and wellbeing reasons or you do not have appropriate access to study space or facilities in your vacation accommodation.

We will be in touch tomorrow with further details. In the meantime, please stay safe and take good care of yourselves. 
 
Very best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Email to staff (21:55)

Dear colleagues

This evening the Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, has announced a third national lockdown which will take effect from midnight tonight. This step is necessary to bring the new variant of the Coronavirus under control.

Since last March we have responded quickly to new Government guidance and we will do so again. It is clear that we must make changes to our operations to support the national effort and keep our community safe but we need some time to digest the detail of the new restrictions. 

Therefore for tomorrow, only those staff whose roles have previously been designated as business critical or staff who undertake research approved for on-campus activity should come to campus. If you are unsure if you should travel to work on campus tomorrow, please contact you line manager before travelling.

The COVID Oversight Group will meet tomorrow morning to review our teaching and research plans and operations in light of the guidance issued this evening. Please be reassured we have developed a number of operational scenarios within a strategic framework, which we will form the basis of our decision-making to enable a quick response. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and the wider community remains our priority and will guide our planning. 

We are also mindful that the delay in schools returning may impact some staff and again we will be as flexible and supportive as we can for those that will be balancing their work and family caring commitments. 

We will issue further details following the meetings being held tomorrow, including support and wellbeing advice. 

In the meantime, please stay safe. 

Regards

Professor Nishan Canagarajah
President & Vice-Chancellor

 

31 December 2020

Email to staff (17:49)

Dear colleagues

Following yesterday’s announcements we have now received more information on how the new measures to keep Coronavirus under control will impact the University. 

As a reminder, yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced further, tougher restrictions for people across the UK in response to rising Coronavirus cases. This includes Leicester and Leicestershire, which means that we are now in a Tier 4 area.

Since then, Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan has written to Vice-Chancellors to set out further changes to the staggered return of students to campus. Universities must now ensure that students do not return for face-to-face teaching until 25 January at the earliest except for exemptions around Medicine, Allied Health, Education and courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body assessments or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled. This decision will be reviewed again by Government in the week commencing 18 January 2021. 

Schools will be asked to review their staggered return plans and to notify students in the week commencing 4 January of any changes to the start date of their face-to-face teaching. Until face-to-face teaching begins, Government guidance requires all teaching to take place online and for online study to take place away from the University campus. However, our Library, social study spaces and accommodation will be open and we will support any students who need to be on campus.

Arrivals, support and welcome activities for new students are expected to continue as planned but are currently being reviewed in the light of yesterday’s announcement. This applies to all returning students and also to postgraduate students starting a new course in January. New postgraduate research students have been advised to contact their supervisor to arrange their start date.

We have written to students today to advise them of these changes, a copy of the email can be found immediately below on this page. 

As always, we will keep you informed as we receive more details, so please look out for updates. 

I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Best wishes

Professor Edmund Burke
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Email to students (16:36)

Dear student

I hope you are managing to have a restful winter break and we look forward to welcoming you back on campus as soon as we are able to. 

Yesterday, the Government issued new guidance which may impact your return to University in January 2021: 

  1. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced further, tougher restrictions for people across the UK in response to rising Coronavirus cases. This includes Leicester and Leicestershire, which means that we are now in a Tier 4 area;
  2. Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, has made further changes to the staggered return to campus of students and has advised that universities need to ensure that students do not return for face-to-face teaching until 25 January at the earliest except for exemptions around Medicine, Allied Health, Education and courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled. This decision will be reviewed again by Government in w/c 18 January 2021. 

As always, we will respond and adapt quickly to the changing environment. Our original start dates for face-to-face teaching varied by subject and are listed here. As a result of yesterday’s announcement we will need to change the staggered start dates so that they begin from 25 January (except those exempted courses listed above). You will be notified by your School in w/c 4 January of your revised face-to-face teaching start date.  

Before you return for face-to-face teaching, Government guidance requires all of your teaching to take place online and for online study to take place away from the University campus. However, our Library, social study spaces and accommodation will be open and we will support any students who need to be on campus.

Arrivals, support and welcome activities for new students are expected to continue as planned but are currently being reviewed in light of yesterday’s announcement. This applies to all returning students and also to postgraduate students starting a new course in January. New postgraduate research students are advised to contact your supervisor to arrange your own start date.

Further guidance is still required and we will keep you updated as the information becomes clearer. Review the latest information.

Students wanting to return to Leicester before the start of face-to-face teaching

We recognise some students may need to return to Leicester in order to access study spaces or facilities not available in their vacation accommodation or some students may require additional wellbeing or learning support. We are here to support you. If you are returning you will need to take a test upon arrival with our own testing service through our online booking form.  Lateral-flow tests will be available from Tuesday 5 January.  Until you receive a negative result, usually received the same day, you should not attend campus, and you should minimise social contact with others. 

Travel from a Tier 3 or Tier 4 Area

If you are travelling to Leicester from a UK location that is in Tier 3 or Tier 4, you will also need to take a test locally via a community testing programme before travelling to Leicester (travel is only permitted if you have a negative test). You should then also book for a test with our own testing service through our online booking form.

Campus Facilities 

The Tier 4 rules includes a “stay at home” order and instructs the closures of gyms. Therefore, we will close the Roger Bettles Sports Centre from 31 December 2020 (the Danielle Brown Sports Centre has remained closed over the Christmas period).

Students on placements

Placement will continue where the placement provider has COVID-secure measures in place, is permitted to open based on the relevant local restrictions and is content for placements to continue. Please contact your School/Placement Office if you have any queries relating to your placement. 

International Students Travelling from Overseas

The Government has advised for international students travelling from overseas for the Spring term to consider whether you need to travel to the UK at this time, particularly if your course does not require you to be on campus from 4 January. 

If you are travelling to the UK as planned, you must complete a passenger locator form on arrival and if you are travelling from a country not on the exemption list (travel corridor), then you will need to self-isolate in your accommodation for ten days. There is also now the option for you to take a private test (at your own expense) after five days of isolation. A negative result will release you from having to isolate further.

Students already in Leicester 

If you are already in Leicester, such as students who have remained in university or private accommodation over the winter break, or international students who have remained in the UK or have just arrived, our support and facilities continue to be available to you.  However, from 5 January, students who have stayed over the winter break should also undertake a test. You should book for a test with our own testing service through our online booking form. Until you receive a negative result, usually received the same day, you should not attend campus, and you should minimise social contact with others.

Support for Students 

For details on our current facilities please visit the opening times page. For urgent situations, please use the contact details below:
  • If you have a query related to COVID-19 please contact us via email;
  • In the event of an emergency, if you feel your safety or wellbeing is at immediate risk, please call 999 for the police, ambulance or fire services;
  • For urgent medical help that is not life-threatening, ring 111 to speak to a trained professional who will direct you to the appropriate NHS service;
  • University Security are available 24 hours a day. They can respond directly to incidents on campus, including halls of residence and also can provide support with reporting incidents to the police. Call 0116 252 2023 (non-emergency) or 0116 252 2888 (emergency). This can also be done using the Safezone app;
  • If you are isolating or awaiting test results and need urgent help with essential food or hygiene goods, we can support you.  The Village and The City receptions are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0116 252 2428 or accommodation@le.ac.uk, and can provide emergency supplies to students in private or university accommodation if required.

Stay Safe 

Whilst it is excellent news for everyone that the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been approved and the first doses will be given from next Monday, we still have some way to go to in the fight against the virus. 

Therefore it is vital that everyone continues to follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive: 
  1. Isolate;
  2. Report;
  3. Test (book via gov.uk if not yet tested).

The government guidance for Tier 4 is https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home.

We will keep you informed as we receive more details, so please look out for updates. 

I look forward to seeing many of you next year as we safely return to campus.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

 

30 December 2020

Email to staff (19:07)

Dear colleagues,

I hope you are well and have been able to get some rest during the holiday period. I apologise for this email during the University closure period, but as most of you are probably aware, today the Government issued new guidance which impacts the University. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced tougher restrictions for people across the UK in response to rising Coronavirus cases. This includes Leicester and Leicestershire, which means from 00:01 31 December 2020 we move to Tier 4. Further to this, Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP advised of further changes to the staggered return to campus of students and has advised today that no face-to-face teaching will start before 18 January except for Medicine, Allied Health, Social Work and Education. He also reiterated the requirement for students to be tested. However, no specific details were issued at this stage. 

Michelle Donelan is meeting with Vice-Chancellors tomorrow to outline further proposals and I will keep you, and our students, updated as the information becomes clearer.  

In the meantime we have listed below what we do know and how this impacts the University.

Tier 4 – Stay at Home

The government guidance for Tier 4 is available on its website.

Travel from a Tier 3 or Tier 4 Area

The Government is keen to minimise unnecessary student travel and is urging students not to travel unless they are in the exempted courses. Students travelling to Leicester from a UK location that is in Tier 3 or Tier 4,  will need to take a test locally via a community testing programme before travelling to Leicester (if they have a negative test). They should then also book for a test with our own testing service through our online booking form.

As always, we will respond and adapt quickly to the changing environment and lateral-flow tests will be available to students from Tuesday 5 January.

Students currently in University accommodation

We will continue to support our students who are staying in University accommodation. They will be allowed to use essential University facilities and be given the necessary wellbeing support during this period. 

Campus Facilities

The Tier 4 rules includes a “stay at home” order and instructs the closures of gyms. Therefore, we will close the Roger Bettles Sports Centre from midnight tonight (the Danielle Brown Sports Centre has remained closed over the Christmas period).

Staff Working Arrangements

All staff (including PGR students) should continue with existing (or planned) working arrangements when returning to work in January. We are mindful that the delay in secondary schools returning in January may impact on some staff and again we will be as flexible and supportive as we can for those that will be balancing their work and family caring commitments. If you have any queries about what this means for you, please contact your line manager. 

Stay Safe 

Whilst it is excellent news for everyone that the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been approved and the first doses will be given from next Monday, it is clear from the today’s announcement that we still have some way to go to in the fight against the virus. 

Therefore it is vital that everyone continues to follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive: 

  1. Isolate
  2. Report
  3. Test (book via gov.uk if not yet tested).

We will keep you informed as we receive more details on how today’s announcement affects the University, so please look out for updates. 

I wish you a healthy and peaceful New Year. 

Regards

Nishan

 

23 December 2020

Email to students (13:30)

Dear student

We understand that it is a tough time at the moment, with the restrictions and changing rules we are all having to deal with. This is a reminder email to let you know, whether you are staying in Leicester over the Christmas period or have left for the break, we have support in place for you.

Staying in Leicester

For those of you staying in Leicester or Oadby during the Christmas vacation, we have created opportunities for safe socialising. These are available to you if you are staying in halls or private accommodation, and include the following:

  • A drop-in refreshment station, large enough to allow for social distancing, will be available at The City and The Village receptions where you can call in, get a coffee and a sweet treat and stay for a chat with the Reslife team
  • Social spaces will remain open across Oadby and Nixon with games, snacks and drinks for you to use with other groups following the tier 3 guidance
  • If you are in private accommodation, you can join in with Christmas dinner and social events on Christmas Day in halls of residence. If you wish to participate, please let us know at accommodation@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2428
  • If you need any support with provision of essential food and hygiene supplies, we have a range of options to help. Please contact us via covidhelp@leicester.ac.uk.

Wellbeing

We understand that many of you may have had your travel plans and Christmas/New Year plans disrupted by the latest changes to Government guidelines and advice. Regardless of where you are in the world right now, please remember that we are here to support you with your emotional and mental wellbeing during these uncertain times.

Our Here for you pages include resources, information about our MyWellbeing app and external support. The MyWellbeing app empowers you to make positive healthy changes - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through the MyUoL app, if you have both apps downloaded. The Students’ Union provides signposting and wellbeing advice.

If you find yourself unable to leave the UK due to the changing travel restrictions, we are always here to support you – a warm room, a bed, and a team who cares – just contact accommodation@le.ac.uk for free, emergency accommodation.

If you need to talk to someone during this time, we recommend the following options:

  • studentspace.org.uk offers one-to-one support for students
  • Samaritans offer emotional support. Call for free on 116123 to speak to a Samaritan volunteer or email jo@samaritans.org (responses to emails take up to 24 hours).

Events and activities

We don’t want any of you to feel lonely or unsupported during the festive vacation break. You can see the full range of activities we have on offer on our Advent Calendar page, which runs until Friday 8 January, and on our @leicstudentlife Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Key contacts and information

Please also remember the following sources of help and support are available to you.

  • In the event of an emergency, if you feel your safety or wellbeing is at immediate risk, please call 999 for the police, ambulance or fire services.
  • For urgent medical help that is not life-threatening, ring 111 to speak to a trained professional who will direct you to the appropriate NHS service.
  • University Security are available 24 hours a day. They can respond directly to incidents on campus, including halls of residence and also can provide support with reporting incidents to the police. Call 0116 252 2023 (non-emergency) or 0116 252 2888 (emergency). This can also be done using the Safezone app.
  • The Village and The City receptions are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0116 252 2428 or accommodation@le.ac.uk.

We have collated important support information that you may find useful over the Christmas period:

We hope you have found this information helpful. We wish you a peaceful and relaxing break and look forward to welcoming you back to university life in 2021.

Best wishes

Graham and Louise

Graham Wynn
PVC Education          

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

21 December 2020

Email to students (13:16)

Dear student

Following the Government announcements this weekend, we are writing to provide you with updated information on student travel and support. We will keep you updated with any developments during the winter break.

Student travel in light of Tier 4

We know many of you have now already travelled home during the recent ‘travel window’; however, for those of you who have not yet travelled home, including students on placement, this is to confirm that government guidance allows you to travel home. This includes those who may be preparing to travel from or to a Tier 4 area.

Government guidance stipulates that any student can travel home once during the period 3 December 2020 and 7 February 2021 and students will form part of the household they return to and will not count as a separate household. 

If you are planning to travel you are advised to take a rapid COVID-19 test 24 hour (at most) before travelling. You can book your test here. Please note that testing finishes at the university at 1.00pm on 22 December. 

For our end of term arrangements please visit our end of term pages.

Travel to countries that have issued a temporary UK travel ban

If you now have to stay here longer than expected please contact studentcovidsupport@leicester.ac.uk and we will look to how we can support you over Christmas.  

Returning in January 2021

We have not yet received travel information for students who will be travelling from Tier 4 to the university in January 2021. We will publish information as soon as we receive any revised government guidance.

For our latest information for returning in the new year please visit the January 2021 pages.

Support, events and activities

During the break, some of our services’ opening hours change, but there will be support available throughout. The details are all on the opening times webpage. For urgent situations, please use the contact details below:

  • If you have a query related to COVID-19 please contact us at studentcovidsupport@leicester.ac.uk
  • In the event of an emergency, if you feel your safety or wellbeing is at immediate risk, please call 999 for the police, ambulance or fire services.
  • For urgent medical help that is not life-threatening, ring 111 to speak to a trained professional who will direct you to the appropriate NHS service.
  • University Security are available 24 hours a day. They can respond directly to incidents on campus, including halls of residence and also can provide support with reporting incidents to the police. Call 0116 252 2023 (non-emergency) or 0116 252 2888 (emergency). This can also be done using the Safezone app.
  • The Village and The City receptions are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 0116 252 2428 or accommodation@le.ac.uk.

We have collated important support information that you may find useful over the Christmas period:

For activities to get involved with over the holidays, visit our Christmas webpages or @leicstudentlife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

If for some reason your plans to leave have changed and you are in need of support and food packages due to self-isolation please report your symptoms or positive test results and a member of the team will be in touch. 

We realise the recent change in guidance is disruptive and can have an impact on your wellbeing, so we would like to remind students of the changes to mitigating circumstances, particularly the removal of requirement for evidence in many cases, and that mitigating circumstances may apply, for example, when you experience difficulty working away from university or COVID anxiety is having an effect on your ability to study. You can apply for mitigating circumstances here.

We are also currently working on a package of education support to protect your attainment this academic year. We will provide more details on this in early January.

Please take good care and look after yourselves and each other. 

Best wishes                  

Graham and Louise

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar



17 December 2020

Email to staff (14:50)

Dear colleagues

As we come to the end of Term 1, planning for the return of students to campus after the Christmas break is at an advanced stage. We have recently received information from the Government which sets out the following guidance:

  • The return of students to campus in January should be staggered over five weeks - this is to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students
  • Practical and placement students should return first
  • All students should be offered testing on return to university
  • Students who returned home over the winter break should not be encouraged to return to their term-time accommodation until their face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume.

The purpose of this email is to share information about our teaching plans for Semester 2 (week commencing 18 January).

Face-to-face teaching

The University’s intention in Semester 2 is to resume face-to-face teaching, where it is safe to do so, in line with our baseline ignite planning. This is in line with the aforementioned Government guidance which requires the resumption of face-to-face teaching to be staggered across five weeks from 4 January 2021. This means that many of our students will only return to campus for face-to-face teaching in the weeks commencing the 11, 18, 25 January and 1 February. Timetabling has currently been implemented on the basis of face-to-face teaching provision taking place at the level of our baseline ignite plans and will be adjusted to take account of the staggered approach to the resumption of face-to-face teaching in Semester 2.

I would like to emphasise that, although Government guidance requires the staggered resumption of face-to-face teaching, our teaching will begin as planned on 18 January (or before for some programmes) and will be delivered fully online until the approved date of return to face-to-face teaching for each school.

To support students’ learning engagement and wellbeing, schools should aim to provide face-to-face contact with students on a weekly basis in Semester 2 where possible. As a guide, schools have been asked to consider providing approximately three hours of face-to-face teaching for students per week, which may include scheduled teaching, focused support sessions etc. Schools should consult with their College Dean of Education on their Semester 2 teaching plans.

We know from student feedback that they are keen to resume face-to-face teaching – it is important not just for their educational progression and success but also their health and wellbeing.

Risk assessments and support

I appreciate that some colleagues may be apprehensive about delivering teaching face-to-face. Detailed risk assessment guidance is in place, which provides information on ensuring that the environment is as safe as possible and supports staff who may be at increased risk. Please talk to your line manager if you have any concerns.

The revised ICVRA includes a section for staff to raise any concerns that they may have regarding travel and transport, anxiety and disability. These factors do not necessarily increase clinical vulnerability but we recognise that these issues do have an impact on people’s confidence in returning to face-to-face teaching.

If you are suffering from increased anxiety, support is available via the Staff HWB toolkit, emotional wellbeing. There is a section on ‘managing worry‘ and some useful tools from Validium for ‘managing concerns about coronavirus’ and ‘managing anxiety around coronavirus’. All staff can access 24/7 Validium for advice on general anxiety by calling 0800 358 4568.

Thank you for your outstanding efforts this year. I really appreciate all your hard work to ensure that we continue to provide an excellent education for our students and deliver world-leading research.

Best wishes

Edmund

This email has been sent on behalf of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor by the Communications team.

 

03 December 2020

Email to students (15:30)

Dear student

This email contains important information relating to the end of term and also the start of next term in January 2021. Please read the email in full to ensure you have all the information you need.

End of term

We have set up a dedicated area for you to access information and support for your end-of-term arrangements. If you need further support or advice please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

We would like to remind you that the NHS COVID-19 testing for the end of term has now started. This test helps you to travel home safely during the national travel window between 3-9 December.

We are providing free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for students as part of the Government’s mass testing programme, using rapid lateral-flow devices, until Wednesday 9 December. You can book your appointment now at either Charles Wilson Sports Hall or The Village Hub, Oadby. We strongly encourage you to take this test because it will provide you with reassurance that it is safe for you to travel and will significantly reduce the risk of further transmission.

Please remember these important points in relation to the lateral-flow testing:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • You must bring your student identity card to the test
  • You are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • You are encouraged to leave the campus and make your way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • Results are delivered to you usually within two hours
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support you as you self-isolate.

You can find out more details and book your lateral-flow testing appointment through the easy-to-use booking system.

International students

If you are planning to travel home, please check with your airline provider (including any transfers) and the country you are flying to in order to determine what COVID testing and other considerations you should be aware of. The Department for Transport also recommends you speak to your travel insurer.

Students can take an initial COVID-19 test with the University’s lateral-flow test. If this comes back negative they can then book a private PCR test (if that is what’s required to fly). Please also see Government guidance on international travel.

PGR students

We would encourage PGR students who are not leaving during the travel window to use the University’s COVID-19 screening programme.

Timetabled teaching 3-18 December

Student timetables for the period from the end of the national lockdown to the end of term have not yet been updated to reflect the changes that are necessary to support the national travel window in which students can return home for Christmas. Some of the teaching from 3 December that is currently showing in the timetable as in-person teaching on campus will be moving online, although the date of moving to online teaching will vary across Schools and placements will continue as planned. Schools are informing students of the changes to teaching for each programme, and the timetable may not be updated until later. For the period from 3-18 December you should follow the guidance from your School.

Library spaces

Some parts of the Library on the second and third floors are currently sealed off. This is to ensure our occupancy levels remain within agreed limits for current levels of ventilation in these spaces. They rely on natural ventilation from windows at the side of the building. However, given the depth of our floors, the flow of air lessens the further away you are from the windows. We have therefore taken the decision to temporarily close these areas until additional ventilation works are completed. We hope to re-open parts of these spaces in February.

New term - January 2021

We have set up a dedicated area for information on your return in January 2021.

The Government announced guidance yesterday to enable all students, including those who have travelled home for the winter break, to return to university and resume blended learning in 2021. We are confident that the face-to-face teaching element of ignite will be delivered next term, but to do this we need to ensure a safe return for you all. Full details and briefing will commence next week, but at this stage the guidance indicates:

  • Students’ return to university should be staggered over five weeks (from 4 January) - to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students.
  • Practical and placement students should return first (with in-person teaching starting on the normal, planned start date) with other students starting teaching online and encouraged to return in the w/c 25 January and w/c 1 February for the commencement of in-person activities.
  • We will ensure facilities and student support is available for international students, commuter students, those who do not have access to appropriate study space and others that need to return ahead of face-to-face teaching starting.
  • All students will be offered testing on return to university with students who have spent the winter break in a Tier 3 area, needing to take a test before travelling back to university, if possible, via a local community testing programme.
  • Students who returned home over the winter break should be encouraged not to return to their term-time accommodation until their face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume.

We realise there are still some more challenges to get to a more normal university life. However, with this new guidance, our continued testing and screening programme and the start of a national vaccine programme, real progress is being made so that we can all be together again on campus soon.

We will be in touch next week with more detailed information on plans for Term 2. Until then, please take care and stay safe.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Email to staff (13:15)

Dear colleagues

This email provides an update on our intended approach to the Government’s new tier system that has started this week and an overview of the Government’s announcement yesterday regarding the resumption of study in January 2021.

Latest Government tier system

Last week the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the new tier system for England. Leicester and Leicestershire are in Tier 3 (Very High Alert), along with many other towns, cities and counties in the Midlands and the North.

Tier 3 does not require any significant changes to the University’s operations before the end of term and as we move into the Christmas vacation period. We currently have five operational priorities:

  • Delivering teaching until the end of term
  • The delivery of the lateral-flow testing which will enable students to travel home safely for the holiday period
  • Supporting those students who plan to remain in Leicester over the Christmas period
  • Supporting students to complete clinical and education placements
  • Continuing our world-leading research.

We have made the decision to review our COVID Strategic Response Framework that we created at the start of term and are now working on an amended framework to guide our planning and decision-making more effectively, as we transition to the resumption of face-to-face teaching in 2021.

If you have any queries relating to our COVID response plans, please speak to your line manager or email covid19help@le.ac.uk.

January 2021

Yesterday, the Government announced guidance to enable all students, including those who have travelled home for the winter break, to return to university and resume blended learning in 2021. We are confident that the face-to-face teaching element of ignite will be delivered next term, but to do this we need to ensure a safe return for our students. We are now reviewing the guidance and we will provide more information to staff and students on what this means for us next week. In summary, this is what the guidance covers:

  • It stipulates that students’ return should be staggered over five weeks (from 4 January) to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students.
  • Practical and placement students should return first (with in-person teaching starting on the normal, planned start date). Teaching for all other students will start online and students will be advised when they can return using the staggered system from w/c 25 January and w/c 1 February.
  • We will ensure that facilities and student support are available for international students, commuter students, those who do not have access to appropriate study space and others that need to return before face-to-face teaching starts.
  • All students will be offered testing on return to university. Students who have spent the winter break in a Tier 3 area will need to take a test before travelling back to university, if possible, via a local community testing programme.
  • Students who returned home over the winter break should be encouraged not to return to their term-time accommodation until their face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume.

All students will be written to today.

Since September, we have been publishing our COVID-19 case numbers on our website. In the last full reporting week eight staff members and 15 students tested positive. This incidence is lower than infection rates in the local population, and lower than we have seen in many other universities. These results are a testament to the way our community has responded during the pandemic. Putting measures in place is only one part of the process. For them to have an impact, we need support and positive action from our staff and students and I am very pleased with the caring and responsible approach that everyone has taken.

We realise that there are still some more challenges to get to a more normal university life. However, with this new guidance, our continued testing and screening programme and the start of a national vaccine programme, real progress is being made so that we can all be together again on campus soon.

I hope you are all keeping safe and well. Please remember to do the following if you experience any coronavirus symptoms: isolate, report and arrange a test.

Best wishes

Professor Edmund Burke
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

 

26 November 2020

Email to students (11:45)

Dear student

This email covers NHS COVID-19 testing for the end of term and important travel information.

Lateral-flow testing

As we have previously mentioned in our updates, we are providing free COVID-19 testing for students as part of the Government’s mass testing programme using rapid lateral-flow devices. This testing begins on Monday 30 November at 10am and you can book your appointment now.

This lateral-flow test is being rolled out by the Government to enable any students who wish to go home for the vacation to do so safely during the travel window of 3-9 December. We strongly encourage you to take this test because if it is negative, it reduces the risk of transmission as you travel home and the risk of transmission to your family and home community.

We have two testing sites: Charles Wilson Sports Hall or The Village Hub, Oadby.

Please remember these important points:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • You are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • You are encouraged to leave the campus and make your way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support you as you self-isolate
  • This testing programme is completely separate to the University’s screening programme

You can find out more details and book your lateral flow testing appointment here through the easy-to-use booking system.

For international students, please note that this test does not meet the standards for international travel. Please see Government guidance on international travel.

We would encourage PGR students who are not leaving during the travel window to please use the University’s COVID-19 screening programme.

Emergency COVID Travel Hardship Fund

If you are struggling to find the money to support your travel home due to COVID, we are here to help. We have introduced a fast-track scheme for students who need rapid access to financial support for this specific purpose. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk or call 0116 2231185 and your request will be assessed within 24 hours (Monday-Friday). Please make clear you are applying under the fast-track travel scheme.

Airport Transfer Service

To help students travelling home by air, we offer a scheduled transfer service to Heathrow Airport. Booking for the December 2020 Heathrow Airport Transfer Service is now open. You can book using our online form.

We want you to get to the airport safely as well as simply. This means that, for the time being, we are limiting the number of seats available on our airport transfer service in order to adhere to social distancing restrictions. Please be aware that spaces may be booked up quickly.

Seats on the airport transfer service need to be booked in advance; you will not be able to turn up on the day you leave. Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should only book your seat once you have confirmed your travel plans. We recommend that you limit your luggage to one suitcase and one carry-on bag, as space on the coach may be limited.

Upcoming airport transfer dates

All pick-ups are from Main Campus and Oadby Student Village. Departure times are to be confirmed but are likely to be at around 7am.

  • Friday 4 December 2020
  • Wednesday 9 December 2020
  • Wednesday 16 December 2020
  • Saturday 19 December 2020

Airport Taxis

You can also book a taxi to the airport through Airport Taxis Narborough. So you can be sure that you’re paying the correct fee for your journey, the typical cost of a taxi from Central Leicester to Heathrow would be between £105 and £110 plus any parking charges, and the typical cost from Central Leicester to Birmingham Airport is £48 plus any parking charges.

If you have any questions or concerns around COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Graham and Louise

 

Graham
Wynn PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

25 November 2020

Email to staff (15:45)

Dear colleagues

I hope you are all keeping well as we enter the final week of our second national lockdown. Today’s update includes information on the lateral-flow testing we are providing for our students, electronic leave information, carer guidelines, details of the next live ExB event, an update on the Bennett Building and an opportunity to apply for a senior role.

Lateral-flow testing for students

Tomorrow, booking will open for students to book a lateral-flow test to enable them to go home for Christmas (if they plan to). Testing begins on Monday 30 November and runs through to Wednesday 9 December. Many thanks to the staff who have worked so hard to get this up and running so quickly, and to those who are running the sessions.

Some important points to be aware of:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • Students are encouraged to leave the campus and make their way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support students as they self-isolate

This is completely separate to the University’s screening programme which is still available to staff, who can book a screening appointment.

Electronic leave information

Most staff will soon be able to book their annual leave, and apply for special leave, for the 2021 calendar year, via Employee Self-Service (ESS). See the full details.

Carer guidelines

We are aware that some staff might be continuing to face challenges around caring responsibilities at this time. We have prepared some guidance to assist managers should they require support in relation to caring responsibilities that members of their team may have. See the guidance.

We appreciate that this guidance may not apply to all circumstances, therefore if you have any queries regarding a specific situation or about a formal Flexible Working request, that you don’t feel the guidance covers, please do contact your local HR Team who will be able to assist you.

ExB Live Q&A

The next ExB Live Q&A will take place on Wednesday 2 December at 10am. Please save the date and tell colleagues who might not be aware. To find the details of how to join as well as the opportunity to watch previous Q&As again, visit the ExB announcement.

Bennett Building update

Following the flood at the Bennett Building last week, we are now moving out of major incident mode into a repair and recovery mode. Large parts of the building are undamaged but there are teams working to make repairs on the areas that are affected. Due to health and safety reasons, the building is strictly out of bounds except for those needed to carry out the essential work. It is not anticipated that the building will be in operation again until mid-January at the earliest.

Appointment of Registrar and Secretary

We are now progressing the appointment of a permanent Registrar and Secretary. Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and Secretary plays a key role as a member of the Executive Board, in the leadership, management and effective operation of the University. In conjunction with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, the Registrar and Secretary leads the University’s strategic planning processes, contributing to the delivery of the University Strategic Plan and working to embed our organisational values and behaviours.

Internal applications are invited for this permanent appointment, with a closing date of midnight on 6 December 2020. Interviews for this post are due to take place on 18 December 2020. For further information, and to make an application, please visit the internal job vacancies page, accessed through My Workspace selecting the ‘Your career’ tab and clicking Jobs and Opportunities.

Thank you for your continued hard work and support.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

Email to students (11:30)

Dear student

As we near the end of this second period of lockdown and continue with our plans for the end of term, we hope you are coping as well as can be with the unusual situation we find ourselves in. We do appreciate how difficult this first term has been for many of you and we hope you are all keeping well and safe.

Please remember, if you have experienced disruption to your studies because of health-related issues, the lockdown situation or any other reason, you can apply for mitigating circumstances. As we outlined in a recent email, we have removed the requirement for evidence for many mitigating circumstances applications.

As an update on COVID cases at the University, in the 10 days to 23 November, we have had 43 cases, of which 29 have been students. See the latest figures.

In the rest of this update, we cover:

  • End of term and lateral-flow testing
  • End of term survey
  • Continued support in lockdown
  • Face coverings in University buildings
  • Sexual violence/harassment
  • Bennett Building update
  • Wellbeing app

End of term and lateral-flow testing

We advised in our email last week that there is a national travel window in which students can return home for Christmas. This window begins from the end of the national lockdown on Thursday 3 December through to Wednesday 9 December. You can read full details on our end of term arrangements webpage.

To assist with your safe return home we will be providing free COVID-19 testing for students as part of the Government’s mass testing programme using rapid lateral-flow devices. It will begin on Monday 30 November and will run until Wednesday 9 December. Some important points to remember are:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • You are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • You are encouraged to leave the campus and make your way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support you as you self-isolate
  • This testing programme is completely separate to the University’s screening programme

Information on booking a test and other details, including for postgraduate researchers, will be released tomorrow, Thursday 26 November.

Please remember that if you receive a positive test, or develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time, you must report it using the University form.

End-of-term survey

We are fully committed to supporting our students who are staying in Leicester after the end of term and during the holidays. To help us tailor our support to meet your needs, please answer our short survey, which should only take a couple of minutes. All responses are anonymous.

For more information about the end of term and returning in January, visit our webpages.

If you have any worries or need support related to COVID-19, please contact: studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Life in lockdown support continues

While the lockdown is approaching its end, we are still offering support while it continues and beyond, in the shape of our Life in Lockdown activities. These include online mindfulness sessions, available for the next few Mondays, that can help you deal with any stress and anxiety you may be feeling. Visit the mindfulness student page.

Face coverings in University buildings

We have been advised that staff are having to remind students more frequently about the requirement to wear a face covering. All students had the opportunity to receive a safety pack (including a re-useable face covering) at the start of term, to help keep you and others safe. Please carry a face covering with you, and ensure you wear one in University buildings at all times across your mouth and nose, unless you are exempt.

Sexual violence/harassment

We are aware that current social distancing regulations can make it difficult for victims and survivors of sexual violence and harassment who want to formally report to the University. We would like to reassure you that there will be no conduct sanctions if students disclose and/or report being subject to sexual violence or harassment whilst breaching COVID restrictions. Please get in touch with a Standing Together Case Worker through Report and Support to access support and to discuss your options moving forwards.

Bennett Building update

Following the flood at the Bennett Building last week, we are now moving out of major incident mode into repair and recovery mode. Large parts of the building are undamaged but there are teams working to make repairs. Due to health and safety reasons, the building is strictly out of bounds except for those needed to carry out essential work. Student and staff who use the building have been notified of alternative and rescheduled arrangements.

Wellbeing app

Finally, please remember we have the My Wellbeing app, which empowers you to make positive healthy changes - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

If you have any questions or concerns around COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Please stay safe and take good care of yourselves and each other.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

18 November 2020

Email to staff (17:15)

Dear colleagues

Following the update of last week, this update explains the latest information and support for students as the end of term approaches. There are also updates on the working from home allowance, Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment around COVID-19, and the Post Room relocation.

Arrangements for end of term

Our plans for end of term arrangements are well underway and we have created a webpage for students detailing all they need to know, whether they are planning to return home or to remain in Leicester.

We have outlined three key steps for students. Once lockdown ends, the Government has identified a student travel corridor from 3-9 December – we are strongly encouraging students to follow the steps below to travel safely during this time.

  1. Check changes to study – Schools will inform students about any changes to teaching including the transition from face-to-face/blended learning to fully online learning, by 24 November. All current face-to-face teaching will end by 9 December.
  2. Get tested – we are planning for rapid testing to be available from 30 November until 6 December, although it will be available after this date up to and including 23 December for students in exceptional circumstances. We are strongly encouraging students to take the test before travelling.
  3. Arrange safe travel – Schools will advise when testing will be available their students and the dates they are advised to travel. Students can drive themselves home or family members or friends from your destination household can pick them up in a private vehicle. We are asking students to coordinate staggered collection times with their household. If using public transport to travel home, we are asking students to follow the Government guidance.

For international students planning to travel overseas, we are advising they consider whether they need to self-isolate when they return, and to check any restrictions in the country they are travelling to. Students travelling to the EU should also consult relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU transition.

If students are travelling home for Christmas they will need to travel on or before Wednesday 9 December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus, or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address. This would risk not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Please visit the end-of-term arrangements page for all details and updates.

Planning for January continues and we are still awaiting Government guidance on this. We will share an update on our plans in the next few weeks.

Working from home allowance

As many staff will continue to work from home going well into 2021, we encourage staff to view the HMRC advice, as you may be able to claim tax relief for additional costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of COVID-19. Further information on Financial Wellbeing can be found in the Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit. You can find more details of this in the staff FAQs.

Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment

To ensure that all staff and managers are able to easily complete the Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment (ICVRA) form as part of any return to campus preparations we have now included some narrative to the form to explain the context of the form and how it should be completed. We have also agreed that staff can discuss the risk assessment directly with Occupational Health, before a report is sent to their line manager to ensure that any adjustments or mitigation can be actioned.

The new Resource Hub gives the ICVRA a top level ‘button’ so staff and managers can easily access the form and the more detailed guidance with scenario examples of how to complete the form. Visit the Resource Hub.

Post room relocation

On Wednesday 25 November, the University’s Post Room will relocate to the same building as Print Services at the following address:

University of Leicester
Post Room
12 Chiswick Road
Freemen's Common Industrial Estate
Leicester
LE2 7SX

The Post Room will continue to operate as usual with no disruption to service, and all deliveries and collections for the University will operate from the above address. For any enquiries please contact: postroom@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2444.

I hope you are all keeping well.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

Email to students (16:30)

Dear student

Following our update of last Friday, we want to give you the latest information on our end of term arrangements. Please read this email carefully as it contains important information about the end of term plans, COVID testing, the student travel window and details of campus operations if you are intending to stay in Leicester over Christmas.

Arrangements for end of term

Our plans for end of term arrangements are well underway and we have created a webpage detailing all you need to know, whatever your plans are for the end of term. Advice is available to help you safely return home to enjoy the break, to ensure you can continue your studies and also to help you keep in touch with your friends. For those of you who will be remaining in Leicester, we will continue to provide activities and support.

If you are planning to return home this Christmas, there are three key steps you need to take to ensure you can do this safely. Once lockdown ends, the Government has identified a student travel window from 3-9 December – we strongly encourage you to follow the steps below to travel safely during this time.

  1. Check changes to your study - your School will inform you about any changes to teaching, including the transition to fully online learning. Any current face-to-face teaching will end by 9 December.
  2. Get tested - we are planning for rapid testing to be available from 30 November until 6 December, although it will be available after this date up to and including 23 December for students in exceptional circumstances. We strongly encourage you to take a test before travelling. Details on testing are available on the webpages.
  3. Arrange safe travel – your School will advise when testing will be available to you and the dates you are advised to travel. You can drive yourself home, or family members or friends from your destination household can pick you up in a private vehicle to take you home at the end of term. Please coordinate staggered collection times with your student household.

If you are using public transport to travel home, please follow the Government guidance.

If you are an international student and plan to travel overseas, you should also consider whether you need to self-isolate when you return. You are advised to check any restrictions in the country you are travelling to and whether you will also need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country. Students travelling to the EU should also consult relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU transition.

If you are travelling home for Christmas, you will need to travel on or before Wednesday 9 December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus, or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address. This would mean you may be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Please note that if you need to self-isolate during the travel window outlined above, you will be able to take a test and travel after the window.

If you are currently on a placement, you should contact your academic school for confirmation of the actions you should take for placements that are a formal part of your academic studies this year. This includes any arrangements for the end of term.

If you are currently on a placement away from the University (eg a year in industry or in a school) you should continue to follow the arrangements of your employer (placement provider). If you have any questions or queries, please contact your Placement Supervisor at the University.

Please visit the end-of-term arrangements page for all details and updates.

We are planning for the beginning of the new term in January and we are awaiting Government guidance on this. We will share an update on our plans soon.

Campus operations

The Library, study spaces, wellbeing services and some catering facilities will remain open from 3 December and throughout the Christmas period, except for Bank Holidays (25 December, 26 December and 1 January).

The David Wilson Library opening times are as follows:

Friday 18 December (last day of term): 9am to 7pm
Saturday 19 December: 12 noon to 5pm
Sunday 20 December: 12 noon to 5pm
Monday 21 December: 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 22 December: 10am to 4pm
Wednesday 23 December: 10am to 4pm
Thursday 24 December: 10am to 4pm
Friday 25 December: Closed
Saturday 26 December: Closed
Sunday 27 December: Closed
Monday 28 December: 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 29 December: 10am to 4pm
Wednesday 30 December: 10am to 4pm
Thursday 31 December: 10am to 4pm
Friday 1 January: Closed
Saturday 2 January: 10am to 4pm
Sunday 3 January: 10am to 4pm
Monday 4 January (University reopens): 9am to 7pm

From Monday 16 November, the Student Services Centre is open Monday to Friday 11am to 3pm. The Student Services Centre is a central point for information and advice for all students. If you need help with any practical matters, the Centre will always be happy to help you so visit them in the Charles Wilson Building. You can email the Centre at studentservices@le.ac.uk.

Over the Christmas period, the Res Life team will be putting on activities for all students including Christmas games, quizzes, pamper sessions and much more. Details will follow soon.

Please keep reading these emails for updates, and following us on Twitter. If you have any worries or need any support related to COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Please take care, stay safe and look after one another.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

13 November 2020

Email to students (16:30)

Dear student

We hope you are keeping safe and well during this second national lockdown. We are pleased to say that currently, the figures for COVID-19 infection at the University are stable and this is in no small part thanks to your responsible behaviour. In the last 10 days to 12 November, we have had 77 cases, of which 63 have been students. You can see the latest figures.

There’s a lot to cover in today’s update – please do read it all carefully. Our update today includes:

  • COVID-19 Screening update – Oadby screening days
  • Mitigating circumstances during the second lockdown
  • Life in Lockdown: get your CV checked
  • Study spaces on campus until 18 December
  • Respect on campus
  • COVID Hardship fund
  • Your wellbeing.

COVID-19 Screening update – Oadby screening days

In order to make it easier for staff and students to attend a screening appointment, a new ‘pop-up’ clinic will be opening at Stamford Court in Oadby on Wednesdays and Fridays from 18 November. The length of appointments has also been reduced to 10 minutes.

When booking, please first choose which venue you wish to attend. For any screening appointment you need to be registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre. This screening is only for students or staff who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the screening page to register and to book.

Please note that information on COVID testing to enable you to safely return home at Christmas will be shared next week when we have finalised our plans.

Mitigating circumstances during the second lockdown

We know that many of you may experience issues relating either to the lockdown or your wider circumstances which may impact your studies.

The circumstances of this lockdown are not quite the same as the last – the University continues to deliver teaching and assessment online through our ignite programme, which is designed to allow continuity of your education even in the face of the disruption of a further lockdown. For these reasons the University has decided to change the mitigating circumstances requirements as follows:

Given the increased pressure on the NHS and the fact that access to many medical services is limited, the University has removed the requirement for you to provide supporting evidence for any mitigating circumstances that are medical in nature. This includes both physical and mental health conditions relating to individual students – you will not be required to provide evidence to support claims for mitigating circumstances on this basis. This will also be the case if you are claiming mitigating circumstances resulting from serious illness of a close family member.

Where you have mitigating circumstances that are not health related, you should still provide evidence to support your claim and this will be considered as part of your submission. We recognise that it may not be possible to provide evidence for all forms of mitigating circumstances during this time, and so your School will be able to consider claims without evidence where you can demonstrate that it was not possible to provide it.

Please note that there may be some Schools where professional or accreditation requirements mean that it will still be necessary to provide evidence, and your School will be able to confirm where this applies.

These revised requirements will be in place for all assessments until the end of this term, on 18 December 2020. After this point the standard requirements for evidence to support mitigating circumstances will be re-introduced for subsequent assessments. If lockdown is extended or re-introduced at any later stage we will review this further.

Life in Lockdown: get your CV checked

Last week we launched our activity programme helping you to stay connected and get the support you need during this second lockdown. A new addition to this is our CV check. Until Thursday 3 December, 11.59pm GMT, email your CV to employer.activity@le.ac.uk to get it reviewed by one of our expert career coaches. We’ll let you know what’s working well, how you could improve your CV further, and recommend steps you can take to keep your career plans moving forward.

Study spaces on campus until 18 December

We are continuing to provide a range of study spaces on campus during the national lockdown and up to Christmas for those student who will remain on campus.

David Wilson Library

The Library remains open for drop-in and bookable study space use, access to PCs, borrowing laptops and browsing and collecting books. The Library is open Monday to Friday 9am – 7pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sunday 12pm – 6pm. We will be updating our website with our Christmas opening hours in the coming weeks.

Charles Wilson Building

Social study space is available in Chi on the ground of Charles Wilson, and dedicated space for staff and PGRs is available on Floor 1 of the building. You can access the space between 8am and 6pm (open access) and with your University ID card from 6pm – 10pm.

Social study spaces in other buildings on campus

Short-stay and set-down study space is available in a number of our buildings on main campus including Physics, George Porter and Bennett. These spaces are available between 8am and 6pm.

Brookfield

Additional study space is available at Brookfield between 8am and 6pm, when the site closes. Some spaces (indicated below) are only available in between teaching sessions:

  • Seminar Rooms in Teaching centre, Brookfield and Mary Seacole (between teaching)
  • Trading computer room which also has access to Bloomberg (between teaching)
  • Hub study space
  • Drawing room - Brookfield House
  • Quiet study room - Brookfield house
  • Computer room - Mary Seacole (between teaching).

Respect on campus

We know that the conduct of the vast majority of students has been excellent this term. However, we are aware that there have been a small handful of incidents of poor behaviour around campus so we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we expect everyone to be respectful to all staff, including security colleagues.

COVID Hardship fund

The University is committed to supporting all our students during these challenging and uncertain times and that includes our PGR community. Specific funds have been made available by the University, and through the generosity of our alumni and donors through philanthropy, to support students who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

Find out more about the COVID Hardship fund.

Your wellbeing

Please remember that there is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email at studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday to Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

We also have a number of apps that we encourage you to sign up to/join so you are up to date on our information and we know you are safe and well.

  • NHS Test and Trace – designed to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities – search for ‘NHS Test and Trace’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
  • SafeZone – allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance or first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus. You can search for ‘SafeZone’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
  • My UoL – provides access and information on a variety of University services and matters - search for ‘My UoL’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store or download the desktop version at myuol.le.ac.uk.
  • My Wellbeing – empowers you to make positive healthy changes to your wellbeing - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

We will also share updates on our website and through Twitter. Please ensure you are following these for up-to-date information.

Finally, as many of you will be aware, the Government announced plans this week to enable students to return home for Christmas (if they plan to). We are currently finalising our plans and will be in touch next week with more details on this.

Thank you for continuing to follow these updates. Please take care and enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

10 November 2020

Email to staff (13:30)

Dear colleagues

Yesterday’s news of the successful COVID vaccine trial brings us hope as we come to the end of our first week of lockdown. I hope you are all adjusting to our second lockdown and managing to still get some time outdoors now the evenings are darker. If it is helpful to take a break from work during the daylight hours please do make the time to do this.

In today’s update I am sharing a blog on the University’s response to COVID-19; developments in the University’s COVID-19 screening programme; an update on the £10 staff allowance for the festive period; student engagement data; supporting students in lockdown; an update on research on campus; and finally the University’s plan to mark Remembrance Day.

COVID response blog

As many of you know, I have been working closely with Geoff Green, Registrar and Secretary, to manage the University’s response to COVID. We have written a joint blog that sets out the number of cases we have had at the University to date and explains how we have managed our response to COVID.

COVID-19 screening – Oadby pop-up clinic

In order to make it easier for staff and students to attend a screening appointment, a new ‘pop-up’ clinic will be opening at Stamford Court, in Oadby, on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 18 November. The length of appointments has also been reduced to 10 minutes.

You can access the booking system for Stamford Court from tomorrow at 9am. The bookings for main campus remain open. In the online booking system, please first select the Adrian Building or Stamford Court before choosing your date and time. Opening times from next week are:

  • Monday 9am – 1.45pm Adrian Building
  • Tuesday 12pm – 4.45pm Adrian Building
  • Wednesday 9am – 3.45pm Stamford Court
  • Thursday 7am – 11.45am Adrian Building
  • Friday 9am – 11.45am Stamford Court

Please remember - the screening is only for students or staff who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the screening page to book.

£10 staff allowance for the festive period

As we edge closer to the festive period we have naturally started to receive enquiries regarding the annual £10 allowance for staff to spend on a meal with their teams.

As I am sure you can understand given the world-wide pandemic, current national lockdown and recent restrictions, we do not think it is likely that teams of colleagues will be able to meet socially during the festive period and we do not think it is sensible to encourage it even if certain restrictions are lifted.

We will therefore reallocate the £10 allowance for staff to spend with their teams to the Summer term of 2021 instead, again considering what the national situation with COVID-19 is at that time. We will also be exploring what options we will be able to offer on campus next Summer with Leicester Services Partnership.

Student engagement data

New tools have been developed that allow Schools and Personal Tutors to identify and support students whose engagement with online learning is low.

With the flexibility ignite provides, it’s important for Schools to be able to identify students who are at risk of disengaging from their studies. In previous years schools relied on attendance data to analyse student participation. However, the reduced and changing number of on-campus sessions make attendance data less useful. A new tool developed by IT Services using Power BI, has been published to provide real-time data on student engagement. The tool allows engagement experts within each School to review how often our students are accessing our Digital Learning Environment and the nature of these interactions.

Additional functionality will be added over time, in consultation with the Engagement Data Steering Group. This allows Schools to provide timely and targeted support to students that need it. These new insights have also been added to the Personal Tutor Dashboard, which has been helping personal tutors to support their tutees for almost two years.

View our data insight page.

Life in lockdown – supporting students

As part of our ongoing support for students, we have increased activities and engagement during lockdown and introduced a Life in lockdown programme. This includes:

We’ve also identified additional group study space in the Ogden Lewis Suite on campus and the Library has an extra 80 flexible loan laptops available for use on and off campus to support students during the second lockdown.

Research update

Our research continues during the national lockdown and guidance for our researchers is in line with the UK Government’s guidance for higher education. We have transitioned with speed and efficiency from Tier 1 to Tier 2 of the Department for Education tiers. This reflects the careful planning of Schools and Departments, operations and health and safety colleagues to ensure our research continues to be COVID-secure.

Research activity will continue to be managed by Schools and Departments, balancing research prioritisation and the occupancy levels of buildings to ensure COVID-safe working.

Your wellbeing remains our priority as we continue to monitor our protocols to keep everyone safe.

Remembrance Day – two-minute silence

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and we will be observing a two-minute silence at 11am. We will be laying a wreath on campus to mark the occasion and a short video will be shared after the event.

Thank you for your continued hard work and support.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

 

09 November 2020

Email to students (11:13)

Dear student

After careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone our January 2021 graduation ceremonies.

The national lockdown announcement and the Government’s stance on a difficult winter, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, means we have no choice but to postpone in order to protect students and their families and friends, our staff, and the wider community.

We are committed to offering students the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony in the future. We will review the COVID-19 situation regularly and the resulting guidelines and will notify our graduating students once a date can be confirmed.

Electronic letters confirming awards to eligible students will be issued in November for students awarded up to 8 October 2020 and in December for students awarded after 8 October 2020.

Students will receive their certificate (and transcript if applicable) by post in due course and will be invited to register a postal address for their certificate through MyStudentRecord this month.

 

06 November 2020

Email to students (17:50)

Dear student

We hope you are OK as this second national lockdown begins. In this update we cover what we are doing to help you during lockdown; additional group study space; flexible loan laptops; a guide to digital learning; refunds for closure of gyms and sports centres; and an update on opening hours.

Life in lockdown

We're pleased to announce our Life in lockdown programme to help you to stay connected, to keep occupied and to look after your wellbeing. This includes:

If you feel lonely or require any student-friendly advice and support, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk, Student Space, or Nightline.

Additional group study space

Additional group study space is available in the Ogden Lewis Suite. This can be accessed from the Fielding Johnson South Wing, behind the David Wilson Library. The space will operate on the same opening hours as the David Wilson Library:

Monday – Friday 9:00 – 19:00, Saturday 9:00 – 17:00 and Sunday 12:00 – 18:00.

You can book the space via the Library’s booking system. Please note, you must continue to wear a face covering in this area (unless exempt) and maintain social distancing.

New flexible loan laptops from the Library

The Library has 80 flexible loan laptops available for use on and off campus. These are brand new machines and at the moment come still boxed. They can be borrowed for up to a month – just ask our Library staff the loan length you would prefer. As these are new laptops you will need to set them up and when you return them they will be wiped by IT Services, ready for the next person to borrow. You can download Microsoft365 from the University website and the laptop comes with Windows Defender. To install Microsoft Office go to the Remote Access site. Select Microsoft365 and log in with your IT Username and Password. Then select Install Office.

From January all flexible loan laptops will come with the standard student PC set-up. However, to help speed up the process and quickly support you during lockdown we are issuing them as new laptops at the moment.

To borrow a flexible loan laptop you will need your University ID card. They can be borrowed from the Library Help Zone on the ground floor of the David Wilson Library. They must be returned to the Library on or before the due date.

Student guide to digital learning

Supportive guidance about how to manage your online studies is available in our student Guide to Digital Learning. Here you can find help on using digital technologies, academic study skills including organising yourself when you’re studying remotely, and how to make the most of ignite learning opportunities by being an active learner. You can also follow your interests with short fully online courses in FutureLearn.

Closure of sports facilities and gyms

We understand that you will be disappointed we are required to close our sports and gym facilities for the national lockdown period. We will be providing a refund to all gym members for the month of closure, proportionate to the level of membership fees paid for the year, and more than would normally be returned under our standard terms and conditions. Refunds will be issued after the period of national lockdown comes to an end. Students who purchased club memberships and who are no longer able to participate due to the new lockdown measures will also be refunded. A decision on which clubs are affected will be made in the coming weeks.

School opening hours

As we enter the second lockdown period, School opening hours have changed. Here are the details for each school.

  • Geography and Geology and Environment: operating a reception service Monday to Thursday morning only and will continue with a daily remote service.
  • Chemistry and Physics: operating a reception service Monday to Friday morning only.
  • Allied Health Professions, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Maths, Engineering and Informatics: operating remotely.
  • Leicester Medical School: The Phase 1 and 2 teams will be operating a reduced service from the GDC.
  • HyPIR, Arts and ULSB: 10-3pm Monday to Friday on Campus/Brookfield
  • AAH: 9-3pm on campus Monday to Thursday; Friday - remote support
  • Law, Museum Studies, Education, Criminology and MCS: Remote and face-to-face appointments are available if booked in advance.

Thank you for continuing to follow these updates. We are working hard to provide you with the support you need during this difficult time. We understand that some of you may be feeling more anxious or lonely as a result of the national lockdown, so please remember that we are always here to support you. Contact the COVID response team on covidstudentsupport@le.ac.uk, or call Nightline if you need somebody to listen.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

Email to staff (15:00)

Dear colleagues

As we settle in to the second national lockdown for the next four weeks, I would like to update you further to our previous emails this week.

In today’s email we are covering: University response to national lockdown, working from home, changes to working on campus, a refresh of the resource hub, a security briefing and flu vaccines.

University response to national lockdown

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to students and vice-chancellors across the country to provide more detail about what the national restrictions mean for universities.

We want to make sure our students continue to receive a quality education, with as little disruption as possible, whilst protecting all of our safety wellbeing. That’s why we introduced our flexible, blended learning and teaching provision ignite in September, which enabled us to move more learning online this week.

If you are still unsure about what the changes mean for you, contact ignite@le.ac.uk.

Continuing to work from home

During the VC and ExB Q&A session last week I received a question about our processes for supporting those of you who continue to work from home and the safety of home-working environments. I thought it would be useful to remind and signpost you to the support and packages available, as they have evolved.

We have provided the Continue to Work from Home Guidance and the online training Help with Temporary Homeworking. Combined, they outline the basic principles of home-working set-up that enable you to carry out a self DSE assessment. On completion of the training, staff are directed towards an online questionnaire which provides an opportunity for you to raise any concerns. You can also do this directly with your line manager.

Drop-in sessions for staff to collect their own equipment to improve their home-working environment have been offered, and are still available. Where absolutely necessary (with authority of budget-holders) there is also the possibility of purchasing equipment.

If you need further information and support, you can contact Health & Safety Services, Occupational Health, Wellbeing and IT Services.

Working on campus - changes

Following the University’s move to our Tier 2 pandemic response, the availability of spaces for booking on campus has changed:

  • Touchdown spaces are no longer available for staff to book through Resource Booker
  • Team meeting spaces at Oadby are no longer available for staff to book through Conferences
  • COVID-secure teaching rooms continue to be available for staff to book through Resource Booker for preparing teaching materials, and by exception for 1-2-1 student meetings that cannot be held online
  • Essential spaces in the Pre-Clinical Research Facility and at Glenfield Hospital continue to be available for relevant staff to book through Resource Booker
  • The Students’ Union will no longer take bookings from student groups and has contacted groups with existing bookings to inform them bookings have been cancelled.

A number of food outlets will remain open during lockdown offering a take-away service:

  • Library cafe
  • Starbucks
  • IV cafe
  • Brookfield cafe
  • Village Pub (no alcohol sales)
  • Citroen Van
  • Delicious.

The Atrium cafe and the Food Market are now closed.

Resource hub update

In order to make the information on our COVID-19 Resource Hub more accessible and easier to find, we have moved it to the external website where it will be kept up to date with the latest advice and information. It includes:

  • Guidance for staff who have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive
  • Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment
  • Working on campus
  • Working from home
  • Research and labs
  • Safe teaching
  • Information for managers
  • Financial operations.
  • You can view all the COVID-19 information for staff. You can still access it via the homepage on the Sharepoint staff section. If you have any questions about content in the resource hub, please contact communications@le.ac.uk.

    Security briefing

    In light of the terrorist attacks in France and Austria, the UK has increased the terrorist threat level from substantial to severe - this means an attack in the UK is highly likely.

    The UK Head of Counter Terrorism Policing has stressed that this change is not based on a specific threat. They have also advised that there is no intelligence to link the France or Austria attacks to the UK, and officers from Counter Terrorism Policing continue to work closely with international partners.

    Please remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the University Security team. For non-emergencies call 0116 2522023 and emergencies call 0116 2522888 or use Safezone if on campus.

    You should also view the Run, Hide, Tell video which gives advice on what to do in the unlikely event of a weapons attack.

    Flu vaccines

    Flu clinics will still be going ahead during lockdown, as the University remains open and the Government is encouraging individuals to have the flu vaccine. It’s not too late to book your free flu jab so please email staffhwb@le.ac.uk who will arrange your appointment.

    I hope you have a good weekend and do please continue to take care.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    04 November 2020

    Email to students (10:00)

    Dear student

    As we prepare for the national lockdown during the next four weeks, we would like to update you further to our email on Monday.

    University response to national lockdown

    Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, wrote to students across the country to provide more detail about what the new national restrictions mean.

    We want to make sure you continue to receive a quality education, with as little disruption as possible, while protecting everyone’s safety and wellbeing – that’s why we introduced our flexible, blended learning and teaching provision ignite in September and took the decision to move more learning online this week. If you are still unsure about what the changes mean for you, contact ignite@le.ac.uk.

    You will have heard from your school by now, or you will be hearing very soon, how this transition will change the way you learn during the period of national lockdown.

    Life in lockdown – looking after you

    We are developing additional support packages for lockdown to help you study – look out for more details later this week. In the meantime, please let us have your ideas of what you would find most helpful during this particular time – email ignite@le.ac.uk.

    Unfortunately, although social gatherings cannot happen in person outside your bubble, we are working with our Students’ Union, clubs and societies to find virtual alternatives. Whilst this won’t be possible for all, we are doing our best to make sure you have opportunities to keep in touch with friends.

    Don’t forget to follow what the Accommodation and Residence Life team are putting on – let them know if you want to get involved via accommodation@le.ac.uk.

    What’s on campus

    The library is still open and you can book group and individual study spaces online.

    Only the following sites will be operating from tomorrow, Thursday 5 November:

    • Library cafe
    • Starbucks
    • IV cafe
    • Brookfield cafe
    • Village Pub (no alcohol sales)
    • Citroen Van
    • Delicious.

    The Atrium cafe and the Food Market will be closed after today, Wednesday 4 November.

    Supporting you in self-isolation

    We want to make sure you have everything you need and that you can keep your spirits up whilst self-isolating, with free food essentials, cleaning products and games deliveries.

    So far, we have delivered 1,445 free food parcels and made 1,550 calls to check in to see how you’re doing.

    Find out more about what we’re doing to support you.

    Your safety

    The number of cases of people who have contracted coronavirus remains stable among our students and staff at the University. There have been 75 cases of COVID-19 among our staff and students in the last 10 days, 67 of which are students. If you want to know about reported cases of coronavirus on a daily basis, you can check via our data page.

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop any symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are to: isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and support your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected while you study with us.

    Your wellbeing

    There is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email at studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday-Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

    Stay in touch and take care

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    02 November 2020

    Email to students (16:01)

    Dear student

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday evening and our message to you shortly after, we wanted to follow up quickly with further details on how the national lockdown will affect how our University will operate in the coming weeks.

    A second national lockdown is not something any of us wanted, but we must unite to do what we can to stop the spread of the virus, support the NHS and save lives. I know from how our community has responded and behaved since March, and particularly since the beginning of this academic year, that we can once again pull together and get through these challenges safely. I am extremely grateful to you all for your cooperation and support in keeping the University’s infection rates low and our campus safe. You have done an amazing job and I am very proud of you all. Thank you.

    It is clear that to keep protecting our community we must continue to follow Government guidance, behave responsibly and support each other. For universities, the latest Government guidance is to remain open, but to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible. Therefore, we have taken the decision to deliver certain face-to-face teaching and services online rather than on campus. This change will come into effect from this Thursday, 5 November.

    From the outset, we built our system of blended education, ignite, to have the flexibility needed to meet any changes to the prevailing safety requirements, whilst at the same time ensuring the continuity of your education will always be protected. In all areas of our planning, your wellbeing and safety is paramount and it is for this reason we are making changes at this point.

    It is important to emphasise that this adjustment to the balance of the mode of learning we provide through ignite will ensure your education continues on track and on time throughout the rest of the semester and the academic year. All of your learning outcomes and your progression will proceed as planned, and we will be offering full teaching and academic support throughout. Indeed, we are actively planning to enhance a number of our services during this time.

    To help ensure everyone in our community remains safe and well, from Thursday, 5 November we will take the following steps:

    Education

    Since the start of the semester we have been providing face-to-face small group and laboratory teaching and we will now use the flexibility provided by ignite to transfer some of these activities online. So, while some face-to-face activities will still continue at a reduced level, they will be focused on the most essential aspects of on-campus teaching. All of our Schools have planned for this eventuality and you will receive information from your School on how your teaching will be delivered during this phase, along with details of the academic support available to you. If you have any queries please contact your School office or email ignite@leicester.ac.uk.

    University accommodation

    At this stage there is no change in our provision of accommodation. Government guidance has not changed and you are encouraged to only return home at the end of term. We expect further Government guidance on the end of term shortly and will share plans with you as soon as we can.

    Student experience

    In accordance with Government guidelines, social gatherings outside your household are not permitted in any form for the length of the national lockdown. This means that, from Thursday, student groups and societies, including sports societies, will no longer be able to hold in-person meetings or events of any size, and University-organised extra-curricular in-person activities and events will no longer be able to take place. We understand how disappointing this will be, and we are currently exploring what additional digital activities we can organise and put in place for you.

    In addition, please refrain from holding any pre-lockdown parties before the lockdown begins on Thursday.

    Campus operations

    The Library will remain open and you can find full details of opening times and online facilities on the website. We will be looking to increase the level of study space available to you during this period and will update you later this week.

    Your safety

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop any symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are to: isolate, report and test.

    In this case, you should:

    1. self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. do not attend campus and do complete the online form
    3. if you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and your wellbeing. We want to emphasise that reporting to us will not impact on your studies or support available to you in any way.

    Available support

    We would like to remind you of all of the support channels available to you:

    We will continue to provide you with regular information throughout this phase of operation and will increase the regularity of the updates you receive. Please do read these emails carefully to keep up to date.

    Finally, I would like to thank you all again for your patience, cooperation and goodwill. I really hope that you are all keeping safe and as well as can be during this challenging time, please do keep looking out for each other. I feel immensely proud of you all, and privileged to be a part of our community.

    Very best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

     

    Email to staff (13:45)

    Dear colleagues

    No doubt the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday night is now sinking in and you are all thinking about what this means for you and your families. No-one wants a second national lockdown, but we must unite to stop the spread of the virus in order to support the NHS and save lives. I know from how our community has responded and behaved since March that we can, once again, pull together and get through these challenges safely. I am extremely grateful to all our staff and students for your cooperation and support in keeping the University’s infection rates low and our campus safe. Thank you.

    It is clear that to keep protecting our community we must continue to follow the guidance, behave responsibly and support each other. I urge everyone to follow the latest Government guidance.

    Since the announcement, and as stated in my email on Saturday evening, I have now worked with the Executive Board team to review our operations and plans in light of the new measures being put in place. At the beginning of the pandemic we established five principles to guide our decision-making:

    1. Prioritise staff and student health, safety and wellbeing
    2. Follow Government guidance
    3. Adopt a phased approach, with key milestones in line with Government timing
    4. Learn as we go along – and deliver improvements
    5. Ensure all decisions align with our strategic priorities.

    Keeping focused on these principles, we have carefully reviewed the latest guidance. Whilst we are operating safely and could continue with our current arrangements, the Government guidance is to remain open, but to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible. As an Executive Board we want to ensure that we can continue to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students during this period of national lockdown.

    Therefore, we have made the decision to move to Tier 2 in our COVID response framework. We have already made suitable arrangements to respond to this scenario and I am confident that we can deliver a good educational experience to our students during these challenging times. Furthermore, it is essential that we do all we can to reassure our students of the value in continuing with their university education. So, this means that from Thursday 5 November:

    • Face-to-face teaching will be reduced. All Schools have planned for this eventuality and have Tier 2 teaching plans in place which reflect essential face-to-face teaching in their discipline areas
    • In-person 1-2-1 student support is by exception and will move online
    • Our halls of residence remain open. Government advice is very clear and students are advised to remain on campus and not return home until Christmas. Further guidance will follow on how this will be managed. Until then, we need to ensure we continue to support students in our halls and in private accommodation during this time
    • Current research activities on campus will continue in accordance with local risk assessments
    • In-person supervisory meetings for campus-based PGRs are by exception and will move online
    • The library will remain open with current operations and opening hours
    • The campus will operate at a reduced capacity and catering outlets will be reduced. More details will follow later this week
    • Professional Services colleagues who are able to work from home should continue to do so
    • Bookable touchdown spaces and team meetings spaces are suspended
    • Sports facilities and gyms will close. We will keep this under review if the guidance changes
    • The Attenborough Arts Centre will close but digital activities will continue
    • The Nursery will remain open.

    The Prime Minister also announced that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - also known as the Furlough scheme - will remain open until December. The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1 November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends. The HR Division will be working with managers this week to review new, or existing, furlough arrangements for staff.

    This continues to be a very uncertain time for everyone. Your health and wellbeing remains our priority, and support is available if you need it. You can access the Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which has a range of resources available.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns you should speak to your line manager, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider on 0800 358 4568.

    More detailed information will follow later this week and we will increase the updates you receive during lockdown. Please do read these emails carefully to keep up to date.

    We have responded well to previous national and local lockdowns and I would urge that we do all we can to support the health and wellbeing of the University community and the wider public. I would like to thank you all again for your cooperation, understanding and support.

    Please take care and stay safe.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    31 October 2020

    Email to students (20:20)

    Dear student

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, we will now consider the new national measures being implemented and will share our plans in response to the lockdown early next week. In the meantime, the University remains open and current teaching will continue. Please be assured that there will continue to be a student experience at the University with ongoing digital events and support in place.

    COVID case numbers at the University of Leicester remain low compared to many universities because of the clear safety steps we have taken and the responsible behaviour of our community. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and community remains our priority. Please follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report
    3. Test (book here if not yet tested).

    I understand this continues to be a challenging time, and we are always here to support you, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk if you have any concerns or need anything from us.

    Stay safe and healthy and look out for updated information early next week.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Email to staff (19:58)

    Dear colleagues

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, we will now consider the new national measures being implemented and will share our plans in response to the new lockdown early next week. In the meantime, the University remains open and current teaching and working patterns will continue.

    COVID case numbers at the University of Leicester remain low compared to many universities because of the clear safety steps we have taken and the behaviour of our community. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and community remains our priority. Please follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report
    3. Test (book if not yet tested).

    Stay safe and healthy.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    29 October 2020

    Email to staff (10:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update focuses on the announcement about Nottingham moving to Local COVID Alert Level Very High and what this means for staff and students who live in that area, our approach to teaching in semester 2 and the Executive Board Live Q&A.

    Nottingham Local COVID Alert Level Very High

    All of Nottinghamshire will move into tighter restrictions from tomorrow morning. We have around 70 commuter students living in those areas and just under 150 staff.

    Face-to-face teaching will continue on campus as we are currently operating at the Department for Education’s Tier 1. Travelling for work or education is exempt from the travel restrictions in the Very High Alert Level, so staff should continue to deliver planned face-to-face teaching. However, if you have concerns about the Very High Alert Level and your personal situation, please discuss your circumstances with your line manager. This may result in the completion of an individual clinical risk assessment to assess and respond to any concerns.

    Teaching in Semester 2

    When developing our plans for ignite and our education delivery for 2020/21, starting from the Education Planning Principles document circulated on 20 May 2020, we took the view that our blended learning approach would extend across the full 2020/21 academic year.

    Moreover, we wanted to ensure that all our development work for 2020/21 was fully aligned with our Research Inspired Education Strategy and formed part of a move to develop a more inclusive, flexible education for our students during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

    From the outset, ignite was designed to allow us to provide our education with the resilience it needs to adapt to a rapidly changing situation. This approach has allowed us to ensure our students have educational continuity while protecting the safety and wellbeing of our community. To confirm, we will continue with our current approach to blended learning through semester 2 while also continuing to closely monitor developments in the COVID-19 situation.

    To help us understand how our approach to ignite is working in practice across our Schools we will consult with students and staff through November. This evaluation exercise will be run in partnership with the Students’ Union and will help inform how we can develop our education in semester 2 and into 2021/22. We will be in contact with Schools shortly to discuss the best approach to the evaluation process and how we can proactively engage our students with the future development of ignite.

    Following the national conversation around arrangements for students over the Christmas period this year, and in anticipation of government guidance on this issue, we will provide staff and students with details on local planning very soon.

    Executive Board Live Q&A

    This week we ran our fifth Live Q&A session with the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Board. Over 600 people joined the event and we responded to a lot of questions. Any questions not covered will be responded to and published later. If you missed the Q&A or would like to watch again, you can.

    I hope you are keeping well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    28 October 2020

    Email to students (10:15)

    Dear student

    Since the beginning of term, we have seen our University community come together in a way that has reinforced the true nature of being a Citizen of Change – a huge thank you to you all for playing your part and helping to keep our community safe.

    In today’s email, we will cover:

    • COVID case numbers
    • Health and safety on campus
    • COVID-19 screening
    • Ignite Q&A
    • Self-isolation support.

    COVID-19 case numbers

    The number of cases of people who have contracted coronavirus remains stable among our students and staff at the University, and at a rate at which it is safe to carry on with the current mix of on-campus and online learning. There have been 73 cases of COVID-19 among our staff and students in the last 10 days, 66 of which are students. If you want to know about reported cases of coronavirus on a daily basis, you can check via our data page.

    Please do ensure you follow the three steps to keep our community safe:

    • Isolate in your home as soon as you display symptoms or become aware of having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
    • Report to us that you have symptoms
    • Test (book if not yet tested).

    Health and safety on campus

    Staff have been working to ensure teaching spaces, meeting rooms and offices are COVID-secure. This includes calculating room capacities, monitoring health and safety, ventilation checks, providing room and building signage, modifying furniture layouts and supplying cleaning and sanitation stations.

    Unfortunately, we have had some reports of capacity signage being removed or tampered with, room layouts changed and additional furniture brought in. Capacities and layouts have been designed with the safety of everyone in mind and to ensure we maintain social distancing requirements, so please don’t put others at risk.

    How you can be screened for COVID-19

    Since the University’s screening programme began over three weeks ago, more than 700 non-symptomatic staff and students have been screened for COVID-19, helping to protect their peers and colleagues. Recently, the screening centre doubled its capacity, meaning more appointments are available.

    We urge all of you who come to campus and are not experiencing any symptoms, to book an appointment and get yourself screened for COVID-19. The screening appointment takes less than 15 minutes and gives you the information you need to keep you and those around you safe from infection. Find out more about the programme and book your appointment on our screening page. The centre is open for booked appointments from 9am-2.45pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-11.45am on Fridays.

    Ignite Q&A

    We held a live Q&A session for students who had questions about our ignite teaching and learning programme.

    We hope those of you who attended found it helpful. We certainly found it useful to hear from you. If you missed it, you can watch the recording.

    Self-isolation support

    We want to make sure you have everything you need and that you can keep your spirits up whilst self-isolating, with free food essentials and cleaning products, Instagram live events and online exercise classes, so we are working hard to make it happen.

    So far, we have delivered 766 food parcels and made 937 calls to check in to see how you’re doing.

    Unfortunately, it seems on the odd occasion a few of you have not received all the help you need in a timely way. If this happens to you, please email accommodation@le.ac.uk and we will ensure you receive the support you need.

    Find out more about what we’re doing to help get you through this tough time.

    Stay safe and take care.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    19 October 2020

    Email to students (15:00)

    Dear student

    We hope you are doing well in these first few weeks of term. We very much appreciate your patience and cooperation with the restrictions within which we are all working. In this update, we cover:

    • COVID-19 cases update
    • Reporting COVID or self-isolation
    • Book your COVID-19 screening appointment
    • Ventilation guidance for using rooms
    • Alternative arrangements for assessment
    • Our second century – shaping for excellence
    • Student Services Centre opening hours
    • Your wellbeing

    COVID-19 cases update

    We now publish our latest case numbers daily on the COVID-19 information hub on our website. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last seven days is 78, 72 of which are students.

    We are still getting reports of new cases of COVID-19 and people needing to self-isolate, but those numbers are slowing down. Currently, we are not experiencing the level of outbreaks that other universities across the UK have. We are therefore still focused on our current teaching plans and we will continue to monitor the situation daily, always ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and students is our highest priority.

    Reporting COVID or self-isolation

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and support your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected while you study with us.

    Book your COVID-19 screening appointment

    If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you can still be screened for the virus by booking an appointment through our programme. You must first be registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre. See the screening page for details and to book.

    Guidance for using rooms – ventilation top tips

    Here are some factors to bear in mind when using any University rooms. You should consider:

    • The more fresh air, the better – good outside fresh air ventilation reduces risk.
    • Let fresh air in by opening windows fully or by making use of ventilation systems.
    • You should not be occupying rooms without suitable fresh air provision.

    Alternative arrangements for assessment

    Under ignite we are committed to ensuring that all of your remote online assessments are inclusive and accessible, taking into account any specific alternative arrangements that may be in place for disabled students.

    We have worked closely with the AccessAbility Centre to support students who are eligible for alternative arrangements. These will be in place for their remote assessments this year.

    Our second century – shaping for excellence

    Next year we will celebrate our centenary and we can look back on a proud history of discovery and student success. We enter our second century as a top 25 UK university thanks to our strengths in education, student experience and research.

    We need to continue to build on this success and our ambition is to be a world-leading research-intensive university providing an exceptional educational experience for our students. To compete with the best in the world we must build on our strengths and areas of excellence. We are now making plans for the future and over the next few months we will be reviewing parts of the University to assess how they can best contribute to the emerging opportunities in education and research.

    Some of you may have received a message informing you that the subject area you are studying has been identified as an area where discussions will be held about potential changes. These are School of Arts, School of Business, School of Informatics, School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science and the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour. If you have received a message, we would like to reassure you that the review will not impact the completion of the course and we are committed to providing a high-quality course delivery in these areas. If you have not received an email, then your area of study will not be affected.

    For our PhD students and early career researchers, we are very conscious of the need to support you. If at any point, it appears possible that any PhD student or early career researcher will be impacted in any way – we will work with the Doctoral College and PGR tutors to minimise any such impact.

    If you have any concerns or queries, or are worried about the review in relation to your studies, please email shapingforexcellence@leicester.ac.uk.

    Student Services Centre opening hours

    From Monday 19 October the Student Services Centre will be open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. The Student Services Centre is a central point for information and advice for all students. If you need help with any practical matters, the Centre will always be happy to help you so visit them in the Charles Wilson Building.

    Your wellbeing

    There is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday-Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

    Please continue to look after yourselves and each other.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    16 October 2020

    Email to staff (16:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s briefing covers an update on COVID-19 cases on campus and how we are responding, an outline on how our plans align with the new Government three-tier plan announced on Monday 12 October, guidance for room occupation, details of touchdown spaces for Professional Services Staff and an update on the University’s COVID-19 screening programme as well as details of a local engagement activity that PHE and the City Mayor is running, which staff are invited to participate in.

    COVID-19 cases update

    We now publish our latest case numbers daily on the COVID-19 information hub on our website. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days is 162, 156 of which are students.

    We are still getting reports of new cases of COVID-19 and people needing to self-isolate, but those numbers are slowing down. Currently, we are not experiencing the level of outbreaks that other universities across the UK have. Therefore, we will continue with the current levels of education and research activity, monitoring this on a daily basis. Unless there is a Government announcement regarding further lockdown restrictions, or our situation changes, we are continuing to operate at an institutional tier 1 (PFD, 38kb).

    How we respond to cases - our Strategic Framework and the Government’s new coronavirus alert system (Medium, High and Very High)

    Last week we issued the easy-to-view infographic (PDF, 38kb) which outlines how we will respond to COVID-19 based on the DfE 4 Tier Model. In light of the Government introducing its three tiers of Medium, High and Very High we are now aligning our framework with the new system to make it consistent and easier to understand in relation to the Government picture. Leicester is currently regarded as High within the Government framework.

    The COVID Case Response Group (CCRG) meets daily to review our position and makes recommendations using this framework to the COVID Oversight Group (COG) if we need to move up, or down, the tiers. 

    Guidance for room occupation – air considerations

    Here are some factors to bear in mind when using any University rooms. You should consider:

    • That good outside fresh air ventilation quantities dilute internal airborne contamination and reduce risk. The more outside fresh air the better.
    • That fresh air can be provided by either natural means (opening windows or roof lights) or by mechanical means (ducted ventilation systems).
    • That we should not be occupying rooms without suitable fresh air provision.
    • That the University E&DS team has ensured that rooms intended for occupancy have either opening windows and/or mechanical ventilation.
    • That rooms intended for occupancy have been inspected for suitability prior to occupation but in all cases room occupancy levels have been reduced to cater for social distancing and/or the limitations of the fresh air ventilation provided.
    • That where mechanical fresh air ventilation is provided the equipment has been recently fully serviced.

    You should take actions as follows:

    • Ascertain, where external glazing is installed, which windows can be opened.
    • Always ensure that outdoor fresh air ventilation is maximised and make best use of windows by opening them fully, or as fully as practical, during any occupation.
    • If there are top and bottom windows open both sets as fully as possible.
    • Ascertain how (or if) window opening can be managed and windows opened prior to or after occupation to freshen the room before entry.
    • Always ascertain that rooms without opening windows are alternatively provided with properly operated mechanical ducted ventilation. If unsure please seek advice.

    Professional Services touchdown spaces –now available

    For any Professional Services staff who need to come onto campus, touchdown space is now available in the Fielding Johnson Building. The Professional Services touchdown spaces are located on the ground floor in the following areas:

    • FJB 0.065 Front Crush Hall office - accessed straight ahead from FJB main reception. Shared office space.
    • FJB 0.040 Shared office accessed by turning right in FJB main reception, passed the Gimson room, at the end of the corridor.
    • There are five single occupancy offices accessed from 0.040 (FJB 0.041, 0.042, 0.043, 0.044, 0.045).
    • FJB0.048 Turret shared office, accessed through 0.040 or from the FJB side entrance opposite Security Lodge, turning left into the office spaces.

    Desks are currently available on a first come, first served basis. Useable desks are numbered. A system to enable booking of desks is being developed.

    Please remember that if you do need to come onto campus, you must complete the mandatory training and download the SafeZone app. You must also wear a face-covering indoors and keep windows open to maintain natural ventilation. Sanitiser will be available however if you find that it has run out, please contact the Service Desk at ECS-Service@le.ac.uk.

    Book your screening appointment

    The University’s COVID-19 screening programme has now expanded to meet demand so please do book an appointment. Just as a reminder, COVID-19 screenings are strictly for University of Leicester staff and students not experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, so if you begin to display symptoms after booking, please cancel your appointment as described below. If you do display symptoms, you must follow the isolate – report – test procedure.

    While the majority of those who book keep their appointments, there is a small number who are requesting to cancel on the day or not honouring the appointment. It is understandable that sometimes circumstances change, often with little notice, but please do attend your booked appointment if possible, or cancel/reschedule by clicking the relevant link in your booking confirmation email. This will give the opportunity for someone else to make use of the original appointment slot.

    It is also important to remember that if you recently applied online for temporary or permanent registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre, you must wait for a confirmation SMS from the health centre before you make an online booking. 

    You can make your screening appointment here.

    Public health engagement

    Finally, The City Mayor’s Office and Public Health are running some engagement groups to try to understand reasons for a rise in positive cases of coronavirus across the city in recent weeks. Data shows that the rise is greatest amongst the 20-44 year-old age group and so they are particularly looking for people between these ages and that live in Leicester for this round of engagement. Find out more or register here.

    Once again, thank you for your hard work and support. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    09 October 2020

    Email to staff (17:45)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update focuses on how the University is operating in a COVID environment and the support and processes we have put in place. There are six updates:

    • COVID-19 cases at the University
    • Supporting our students
    • Supporting our staff
    • How we respond to cases – our strategic framework
    • Campus operations
    • World Mental Health Day

    COVID-19 Cases Data

    As you may have seen, COVID-19 cases within universities is a key focus for the media at the moment as the Autumn term has begun. It’s important that we carefully monitor cases on campus and support any members of staff or students who test positive for coronavirus or have to isolate as a result of contact. 

    As of today, we have two members of staff and 80 students who have tested positive for COVID-19. We are supporting them and wish them all a speedy recovery. We are now also managing our first outbreak in University accommodation – a handful of cases in the same residential block. As with all other cases, we are providing support to all students affected and have put in place additional precautionary safety measures, including cleaning and security.

    We appreciate that some colleagues may have been worried about the start of term. The first week of teaching has gone well and we are very grateful to everyone for your actions to help keep our community safe. The University is keeping the situation under very close review, along with Public Health England, and all decisions are guided by its advice. If the situation changes, we will tell students and staff immediately. 

    To keep our staff, students, and community informed, we're now publishing daily our data on our COVID-19 cases.

    Supporting our Students

    We have a team ready to respond to students who have tested positive as well as to students who have to isolate. From tomorrow, there will be a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, for students, parents, carers and community members who have concerns. The helpline will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday, on 0116 252 2300.

    The support we offer our students is critical as they are away from home. I’ve listed below some of the support in place:

    1. Free care packages for isolating students whether they are in our own or private accommodation. We have four different types of care packages that students can receive:

    • Food
    • Hygiene and cleaning
    • Treats
    • Games

    2. On-campus screening for students with no symptoms.

    3. Continued academic and pastoral support during isolation.

    In addition, the Vice-Chancellor wrote an open letter to parents and carers last week to share our student support plans. 

    We’ve also been as flexible as possible with our accommodation since the start of the pandemic. Last term we quickly reimbursed accommodation costs when students returned home early. We are also the only university to offer flexible accommodation packages so that students can choose to book for the full year, by term or weekly.

    Supporting our Staff

    Supporting colleagues who have tested positive for coronavirus or are isolating is also important. 

    The key actions you need to remember and follow (and/or advise others) if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are: isolate, report and test. 

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:

    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.

    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    We have already shared flowcharts [login required] so each of us know what to do if we have symptoms of, or test positive for, the virus. It is important that both staff and students follow the process so that we can monitor and manage all cases on campus, in our residences and off campus. 

    The most important element of the process is to ensure that we report all cases using the online form

    We’ve also created detailed guidance for managers on what they need to do and how to respond:

    How we respond to cases – our Strategic Framework 

    As outlined by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor last week, the four-tier model created by DfE to manage COVID-19-safe environments is forming the basis of our organisational response to COVID cases on campus. We have produced an easy-view infographic to explain our approach at each tier (PDF, 38kb). We are currently at Tier 1. The COVID Case Response Group (CCRG) meets daily to review our position and makes recommendations using this framework to the COVID Oversight Group (COG) if we need to move up, or down, the tiers. As Chair of COG, I will liaise with the Executive Board as required. The terms of reference of our new groups COG and the COVID Case Response Group will be published on the Resource Hub next week. 

    Our Strategic Framework has been agreed by the local Public Health team, Lockdown Exit Group and Executive Board. It has also been considered by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee (HSWC). 

    World Mental Health Day

    Finally, tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Prioritising everyone’s mental health has never been more important than now. We know making positive change can seem hard, especially at uncertain times. Mind suggests to 'do one thing today', taking the first steps to getting support for yourself or reaching out to someone else.

    I would like to remind you that help is on hand, if you need it. We have our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit [login required], which includes fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas and advice about working from home with links to our carer and parent web pages.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider, on 0800 358 4568.

    I hope you are all keeping well. Take care and enjoy your weekend.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (17:54)

    Dear student

    We hope you are settling into the new term well and, for those returning students, we hope you are adjusting to a new way of learning. It’s good to see our campus coming to life again.

    Supporting you - COVID on Campus

    We are now publishing the number of COVID cases on campus. As of today, we have 80 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and we are supporting them whilst they recover. A number of students are also self-isolating. We appreciate this will be tough and so are doing our best to make sure you have everything you need to get through it. 

    We are now also managing our first outbreak in University accommodation – a handful of cases in the same residential block. As with all other cases, we are supporting all students affected and have put in place additional precautionary safety measures, including cleaning and security.

    We are supplying free care packages to students who are isolating too. There are four different types that you may receive: food; hygiene and cleaning; treats; and games. To receive them you should fill in the COVID-19 symptoms report form.

    We appreciate that some students may have been worried about the start of term. The first week of teaching has gone well and we are very grateful to everyone for your actions to help keep our community safe. The University is keeping the situation under very close review, along with Public Health England, and all decisions are guided by its advice. If the situation changes, we will tell students and staff immediately. 

    And, as of tomorrow, there will be a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300.

    Protecting each other

    We have created six guiding principles and set out the actions and attitudes we must all take on to ensure everyone in our university succeeds and our whole community can stay safe. We promise to abide by this commitment, and we invite you to join us. You can pledge your commitment to the Safe Citizen Promise. If you haven’t signed up already, take a look today.

    Please keep in touch with friends who are self-isolating and, if you feel up to it, there is a programme of ‘social in isolation’ events taking place. 

    Student conduct rules

    We’d like to thank you for all following our student conduct rules. We know that at the moment, student life is not quite as you all expected but we really appreciate how responsible you are being to keep your friends and the University of Leicester community safe. As a quick reminder, please follow the following guidance:

    • Do not socialise outside your household or break the Government’s ‘rule of six’
    • Do not mingle before and after in-person classes on campus
    • Do not move chairs or cross taped-off areas
    • Do not remove your mask whilst in public spaces, including the library, unless you are alone in a room; when you are eating or drinking; if you have a medical condition (mental or physical) that makes wearing a face-covering difficult; or are engaged in work where wearing a face-covering would introduce a more significant hazard.

    If you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, you can wear a sunflower badge to let people know you are exempt, as part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme. To find out more, contact the AccessAbility Centre.

    Unfortunately, a small number of students have had to undergo disciplinary measures for not complying with Government guidelines and we have had to suspend their studies. It is vital that you all follow the guidelines to keep our community safe. See Appendix 1 in Senate Regulation 11.

    Travelling home at weekends

    Due to local lockdown restrictions in Leicester, the Government has put in place extra restrictions to those areas of the country you may have moved from. This includes not travelling home on weekends, even if you are well.

    Please familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts here.

    Screening appointments

    Since its launch last week, the University’s COVID-19 screening programme has expanded to meet demand. While the majority of those who book keep their appointments, there is a small number who are requesting to cancel on the day. 

    It is understandable that sometimes circumstances change, often with little notice, but given the demand for the appointments please attend your booked appointment if possible, or cancel/reschedule by clicking the relevant link in your booking confirmation email. This will allow for someone else to make use of the screening slot. 

    Just as a reminder, COVID-19 screenings are strictly for University of Leicester staff and students not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, so if you begin to display symptoms after booking, please cancel your appointment as described above. If you do display symptoms, you must follow the isolate – report – test procedure.

    It is also important to remember that if you recently applied online for temporary or permanent registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre, you must wait for a confirmation SMS from the health centre before you make an online booking.

    World Mental Health Day

    Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Prioritising your mental health has never been more important than now. We know making positive change can seem hard, especially at uncertain times. Mind suggests to 'do one thing today', taking the first steps to getting support for yourself or reaching out to someone else.

    MyWellbeing app is also available now to help you make positive healthy changes from the physical, to mental, social and financial, through podcasts, challenges and trackers. It is available on Android and Apple devices; register with your full university email address.

    We would like to remind you of the support channels available:

    Please continue to look after yourselves and each other.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    02 October 2020

    Email to students (09:00)

    Dear student

    With a number of universities already seeing large-scale outbreaks of coronavirus so early into the term, we want to outline our approach and support if the situation was to arise here at Leicester.

    Most importantly, we want to reassure you that your welfare and wellbeing is absolutely paramount and we will make sure we look after you at all times.

    As the national situation changes, we are very likely to be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come and, inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. Any decision we make to ensure your safety and wellbeing will be taken in accordance with our COVID plans, which have been agreed with Public Health England and the Department for Education.

    Planning for your wellbeing

    We want to assure you that we monitor and review the situation on a daily basis. This monitoring covers how we are running the campus and our accommodation and we have plans in place to make adjustments and changes as necessary.

    We are operating a four-tier system for our education and will move within that system as we manage COVID cases at the University. The higher tiers involve moving to more extensive online learning for our students and home-working for staff as necessary.

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected whilst you study with us. To help with this we have a number of apps that we encourage you to sign up to/join so you are up to date on our information and we know you are safe and well.

    • NHS Test and Trace – designed to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities – search for ‘NHS Test and Trace’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
    • SafeZone – allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance or first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus. You can search for ‘SafeZone’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
    • My UoL – provides access and information on a variety of University services and matters - search for ‘My UoL’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store or download the desktop version at myuol.le.ac.uk.
    • My Wellbeing – empowers you to make positive healthy changes to your wellbeing - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

    We will also share updates on our website and through Twitter. Please ensure you are following these for up-to-date information.

    Seven Steps to Safety and Conduct

    Many thanks to all the students who are following our seven steps to being safe. Please continue to adhere to these steps. As campus teaching resumes this week please take special care not to gather in large groups when waiting to go into teaching rooms – stay socially distanced at all times. Unfortunately, a small number of students have had to undergo disciplinary measures this week for not complying with Government guidelines and we have had to suspend their studies. It is vital that we all follow the guidelines to keep our community safe.

    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 larger numbers are involved. 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 menu 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 for you, and will support your laundry needs wherever we can. We will 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 in isolation.

    Screening on Campus

    We are now one of a handful of universities screening non-symptomatic students and staff. This is a key measure to keep you safe on campus as we will be able to detect the virus in those who may be carrying it and still feeling well. We have just launched so booking is busy but we encourage anyone who is not experiencing symptoms to book a screening. Booking is now available seven days in advance. Please do not book or attend the screening if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

    Support Available

    Finally, we would like to remind you of the support channels available:

    I hope you have had an enjoyable first week and look forward to seeing you all on campus. Stay safe and well and remember, by following the guidelines you will help keep our whole community safe.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    30 September 2020

    Email to staff (11:40)

    Dear colleagues

    Today the University is launching a programme to screen staff and students for COVID-19. With students and staff returning to campus, our priority is to protect them and the local community from the risk of COVID infection.

    Our screening programme is different to the NHS-run testing programme – the University is screening staff and students who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and are feeling well.

    By taking this action, we are seeking to detect the virus in people without symptoms, and so prevent its spread.

    Screening will take place in the Adrian Building on main campus through a pre-booked appointment system (details are provided below), where you will be asked to take a swab sample which will be used to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus.

    Screening appointments are available to all staff and students. To access the screening programme registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre is required, which can be either temporary (for the purpose of the test only) or permanent (this is your current GP practice).

    If you are registered with a GP practice other than VPHC, you should register as a temporary patient with VPHC.

    Staff who are already registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre can proceed directly to booking a screening appointment.

    Once registered with Victoria Park Health Centre, you can book your screening appointment by visiting the screening homepage.

    Please visit the screening FAQs section or email the University COVID support team for further information about the screening programme.

    If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please do not book a screening appointment. Instead please isolate – report – test. To comply with this you should:

    Please do take part in the screening programme to help protect our campus and community. I wish you all a pleasant and healthy start to the new term.

    Best wishes

    Professor Philip Baker
    Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences, Dean of Medicine

     

    25 September 2020

    Email to students (16:15)

    Dear student,

    We hope that you are safe, well and excited about the start of the new academic year. This email provides important information. Please read it carefully.

    In light of the Government announcement earlier this week, we wanted to update you on the arrangements for the start of term. From the outset, we have designed our education to be COVID-secure. Our new system of education, ignite, builds in the flexibility to adjust the balance of face-to-face and online teaching to meet changing safety needs, whilst at the same time ensuring the continuity of your education. In all areas of our planning, your wellbeing and safety is paramount.

    Welcome

    To support you on your arrival at the University, we have created a Student Life Induction programme, designed to complement your academic and accommodation inductions. The Student Life Induction tells you all you need to know about how you can look after your own health and wellbeing, stay safe on campus and as you travel in and around Leicester. You can also access our Welcome website which sets out our programme of online and socially-distanced on-campus events that have been planned for Welcome and throughout the term.

    Join Us in Creating a Safe Campus and Community

    Unfortunately, we will be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come. Inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. It’s vital that we work together to minimise COVID cases as much as possible by following the guidance we have put in place.

    As part of its work to protect staff, students and the community from COVID-19 infection, the University of Leicester has launched the Safe Citizen Promise, signed by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah and the President of the Students’ Union Mia Nembhard.

    Comprised of six guiding principles which staff and students pledge to uphold and follow, the Safe Citizen Promise seeks to minimise the impact of COVID-19 and stop its spread through collective action and personal responsibility. The University of Leicester also signed a shared commitment with De Montfort University to encourage staff and students to take precautions and protect the Leicester community against COVID-19.

    Please see our Safe Citizen Promise.

    Since the Government imposed lockdown the University has required people accessing campus to use the SafeZone App. We are now asking everyone on campus to install SafeZone and to set it to automatically check-in and out on mobile devices. Or if using a University PC download, install and check in and out when you arrive on campus and when you leave again. This is a simple tool that allows us to monitor numbers of staff and students in our buildings, and should levels exceed the approved capacity an alert will be sent to our security team. Our security team will then be deployed to investigate.

    SafeZone also allows staff and students to contact security in the event of an emergency and enables us to send a fully trained first aider to assist in any relevant situation.

    Seven Steps for Staying COVID-19 Safe

    We have made every effort to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19, but it is very important everyone plays their part. Please follow these seven simple steps to create a safe environment for everyone:

    1. Use hand sanitising stations when on campus or at our accommodation.
    2. Wear a face covering in our buildings at all times, unless you are in your own flat/house or are exempt.
    3. Socially distance at all times and respect the space of others.
    4. Do not hold house parties.
    5. If you are socialising, make sure this is only with your household bubble and do not visit other households.
    6. Participate in our screening programme.
    7. If you develop symptoms:
      • Isolate in your flat/house
      • Report to us that you have symptoms
      • Test (book if not yet tested).

    New Conduct Regulations

    For your own safety, and the safety of others, it is important that you are aware of the guidance and rules that are in place as you join our University community for the new academic year. Leicester City and the Borough of Oadby & Wigston are subject currently to some continuing local lockdown restrictions that mean:

    • you cannot visit other households (including other flats within halls of residence) within this area, indoors or outdoors
    • you should not socialise in public spaces with anyone from outside your household, and never in groups larger than six
    • if these rules are not observed then you may find yourself having fines enforced by the police and be subject to sanctions by the University.

    As a student of the University, you are expected to follow our code of conduct, which has been updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key points for you are:

    • if you do not wear a face covering inside University buildings (unless exempt or in a room on your own), you will be subject to a verbal warning or written warning
    • if you do not follow 1m+ social distancing guidelines inside University buildings, you will be subject to a verbal or written warning
    • if you hold a house party which includes anybody outside your household, the University sees this as a serious breach of the code of conduct, and you will immediately be subject to a two week Temporary Suspension Order (TSO) meaning that you cannot continue your studies for that time
    • if you repeatedly breach the student code of conduct, you will be subject to formal disciplinary proceedings which ultimately could lead to your expulsion from the University.

    We are looking forward to welcoming you to our community and hope that you will understand that, due to the current local and national situation, we have to put in place these measures to do all that we can to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

    Your safety

    We have prepared our campus to operate as fully socially-distanced, creating a safe environment for everyone. You will be provided with a pack of hygiene materials to help you keep safe while studying, including a face covering, hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes. In addition, sanitising stations are available throughout the campus.

    If you are a new student, you will receive your pack at registration, either in University Accommodation or in the Charles Wilson Sports Hall.

    If you are a returning student, you can collect your pack from one of the following locations:

    • School offices for the following schools: Business, Chemistry, Engineering, Geography, Geology & the Environment, Informatics, Mathematics & Actuarial Science, Physics and Astronomy.
    • Leicester Law School: the School will contact you to let you know when to collect your pack.
    • Allied Health Professions: you should have already received your pack.
    • Students from all other Schools can collect their packs from:
      • the Welcome team on campus from today
      • the David Wilson Library – now open
      • the Student Services Centre in Charles Wilson Building foyer – now open
      • University Accommodation (if you live there).

    Thermometers are also available from the same locations on request.

    Certificates of registration and student letters

    You can now download your Certificate of Registration, and any other student letters for which you are eligible, from MyStudentRecord. Once you have fully completed registration, log on to MyStudentRecord and select the My Uni Documents tab to download any letters you need. For hygiene reasons, no letters will be printed at registration this year. We suggest you download your Certificate of Registration to keep on your phone, as this confirms your term-time address. When you are with other students from your household bubble, you will be able to use it to prove to anyone who asks that you all live together.

    Supporting you to study online

    We have produced a range of advice to help you to study online effectively, including a comprehensive Digital Learning site to help guide your studies and provide essential information on our Digital Learning Environment (DLE). Through your timetable and the Blackboard site for each of your modules, you will receive regular guidance about the work and activities that your tutors have designed for you, including learning resources and assessments. Guidance and support is also available from our Academic Skills Centre.

    To participate fully in online learning, you will need to have access to IT equipment. With this in mind, we have extended our laptop loan service to increase significantly its availability and flexibility. To find out how you can borrow a laptop visit the Laptop Loans Website or contact our Library: Library@leicester.ac.uk.

    In addition, we have established a Digital Hardship Fund to help students experiencing financial difficulties to access suitable IT equipment for their studies. Please contact our Student Welfare Service for further information about the support available.

    We want to hear from you

    We would like you to let us know about your experience of ignite and to work together with you to shape its future. If you have any feedback, questions or concerns about ignite, please email us at ignite@le.ac.uk.

    Finally, your wellbeing is important to us. Student Support is always on hand if you are experiencing any issues. Please contact Student Support Services on (0116) 223 1185 or email welfare@le.ac.uk.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Monday sees the start of the next academic year and the return to campus for many staff and students. Some colleagues have been on campus throughout the pandemic, while others have returned over the last few months. Over 500 new students arrived last weekend and this weekend we will welcome the rest of the student community.

    The aim of this update is to remind you of some key information for colleagues working on, or returning to, campus. Again, there is a lot of information in this update so please take the time to read it carefully.

    Safe campus operations

    I know colleagues have mixed feelings about returning to campus – some are looking forward to it and others are apprehensive. Please be assured that a huge amount of planning and preparation has taken place to ensure we can operate as safely as possible in a COVID-secure environment. My update last week provides more detail and I encourage you to read the update of 16 September and the associated documents and guidance. We’ve also created a video to highlight some of the changes in place.

    Unfortunately, we will be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come. Inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. It’s vital that we work together to minimise COVID cases as much as possible by following the guidance we have put in place.

    Alongside our guidance for staff, we have also created a detailed student communications plan and put a ‘7 steps to safety’ system in place, which clearly sets out how we expect students to behave. These posters will be distributed around campus and our halls of residence. We have also created our Safe Citizen Promise which sets out six guiding principles and the actions and attitudes we must all take on to ensure everyone in our university succeeds and I encourage you to make the pledge for the safety of our community.

    COVID response plans

    Over the summer, working closely with the Local Resilience Forum, which includes the public health authorities, we have developed comprehensive COVID response plans for a variety of potential situations.

    Although written for our community, the plans draw on the guidance issued by the Department for Education on 10 September, which included four tiers of response for educational provision. These four tiers do not align to the national alert levels, so it is a complex picture for us to work through, agree and then communicate.

    I want to assure you that our plans are robust and, in addition to the detail in this email, we will share some flowcharts over the next week which show how we plan to respond to different situations.

    Key safety information for being on campus

    We appreciate that there is a lot information available on the Resource Hub about how to work safely on campus. We’ve had feedback from colleagues that it would be helpful to have clear guidance on the key things they need to know or do when working on campus. Our top five messages are:

    • Use hand-sanitising stations whenever possible across our estate.
    • Wear a face covering in our buildings at all times (unless you are in an office on your own). This is required regardless of whether you are socially distanced.
    • Socially distance at all times and respect the space of others.
    • Download SafeZone and check-in when you are on campus.
    • Download the NHS Track and Trace App and ‘check-in’ to our buildings, including our cafes and libraries, by scanning the QR code at the door. You can download the app from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

    How to handle COVID cases

    If a member of staff or a student advises you that they have COVID symptoms or have tested positive, there are three key things you need to advise them to do:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report (Staff can complete the staff form and students can complete the student form)
    3. Test (book if not yet tested).

    Here's a flowchart setting out the process. Please follow the guidance carefully and alert your line manager. This will ensure the approved processes are then implemented to keep our community safe.

    Student behaviour

    It is important that all members of our community follow the safety measures and guidelines that have been put in place. For students, new conduct rules and regulations have been put in place. We have also developed some guidance for staff on how they should handle instances where they observe students not following the safety measures.

    Food on campus

    Due to social distancing rules we need to increase the social study spaces available to our students. Therefore, we will be operating reduced catering facilities on campus. The following cafes and facilities are open Monday to Friday:

    • Library Café, David Wilson Library (11am–5pm)
    • Starbucks, Percy Gee (8.30am-2pm)
    • Delic!ous, Charles Wilson Building (10am–4pm)
    • Brookfield Café (9am-3pm)
    • Atrium Café, George Davies (9am-3pm)
    • IV café, Maurice Shock (9.30am-3.30pm)
    • Food Market, Percy Gee (10am-4pm).

    There will also be a number of pop-up food vans on Centenary Square from Monday 28 September.

    Digital wellbeing

    We’ve had really positive feedback from colleagues on the changes we made to how we work online. Therefore we will continue with these changes for the foreseeable future. As a reminder:

    • Microsoft Teams meetings begin on the hour and run for 50 minutes allowing 10 minutes in between meetings. Exceptionally, where meetings require more time, there should be a limit of 90 minutes.
    • No emails before 8am or after 5pm and none at the weekend (unless working an event/activity such as an open day)
    • Microsoft Teams-free Friday afternoons. The August trial worked well but we also recognise that taking a full day out can be challenging for some colleagues, so we are implementing Teams-free Friday afternoons.

    As we return to campus operations and move to the next phase in our COVID planning, our communications will revert back to the usual channels – The Citizen and all staff emails where appropriate. My updates will continue but will be less frequent and only focus on COVID-related activity. As with all our operations, we will review, respond and adjust this as necessary.

    This update focuses on those working, or returning to, campus and I am very mindful that we have a large number of colleagues who will continue to work from home. Regardless of where you are currently based, your work is vital and everyone plays an important part in the University’s success.

    I’d like to thank everyone for your efforts over the last six months. It has been an incredibly challenging time where we have all demonstrated that we are citizens of change. Thank you for your resilience, determination, adaptability and kindness.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    23 September 2020

    Email to staff (12:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Next week sees the start of the new academic year and I know many colleagues will be returning to campus for the first time since March. Some of you will be looking forward to being on campus again and others may feel apprehensive. This email highlights the extensive steps we have taken to ensure that we can do this safely for everyone.

    The Prime Minister was very clear in his announcement yesterday that schools, colleges and universities should remain open and operations should be COVID-compliant.

    The Lockdown Exit Group has carefully worked through a series of processes, guidance, and risk assessments to maximise the safety of our campus. Our plans have been shared and tested with the Local Resilience Forum, with Public Health England and with internal experts and the trade unions. There is guidance on the Resource Hub for staff who are returning to campus and specific guidance for face-to-face teaching.

    We have increased the signage around campus and in each building, providing clear instructions on how to operate to ensure we keep our community safe and well. Later this week, we will share videos showing how small group, in person teaching will work for both staff and students. We are also offering campus tours to show the changes we’ve made. You can book a tour. The tours are run by the Estates and Digital Services team and are designed to familiarise you with the new-look campus.

    Ignite was designed from the very beginning to provide us with the flexibility to respond to the changing circumstances presented by the pandemic. To successfully deliver ignite, we need to utilise this flexibility to offer online and face-to-face teaching and ensure the educational continuity of our students. Like Nishan, I believe face-to-face teaching is important for our students, their education and their wellbeing, which is why we have taken the steps we have. It is important, however, that we recognise changes in the national and local situation and regularly review the balance of the online and face-to-face teaching we offer. We will use the flexibility provided by ignite to respond to any changes to national guidance and our local situation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students.

    Currently, we have timetabled a moderate level of face-to-face teaching that has been planned to meet the needs of each discipline. We are monitoring the national and local situation closely and we will work with schools to regularly review the safe and appropriate balance of online and face-to-face teaching as we move into and through the new academic year. It is important that we safely open up our campus to support and deliver education for our students, that we treat people fairly and that we all play our part to deliver an outstanding education and student experience.

    If you are required to work on campus, please ensure you have read the risk assessment for your building, you have reviewed the return to working on campus guidance and completed the return to work checklist. If you have any concerns about returning to campus, please liaise with your line manager.

    For all other colleagues who are not student-facing, or do not need to be on campus to conduct research, our guidance remains the same; please continue to work from home.

    I am confident that when you arrive on campus you will be reassured by the steps we have taken to operate in a COVID-compliant way. The health and wellbeing of our staff and students is always paramount and we will continue to assess and review our processes and activities to ensure we keep our community safe.

    Best wishes

    Professor Edmund Burke
    Deputy Vice-Chancellor

     

    16 September 2020

    Email to staff (15:45)

    Dear colleagues

    This is a long and detailed email. Please take the time to read it as it is important to remind you of our COVID-19 response to date as we get ready for the start of the new academic term.

    Preparedness has been the focus for all our work over the last six months as we have consulted, planned, risk assessed, reviewed, supported and responded to the immense challenges COVID-19 has created. We’ve developed new processes, procedures and guidance, and considered and planned for many scenarios.

    We’ve done this in an environment of constant change with frequent, and often last minute, amendments to Government guidance. And on top of all of that, we were the first city to experience a local lockdown. Throughout the pandemic we have not been deterred. We have always remained calm and professional as teams have come together to re-plan and refocus without complaint. I am very proud of how we have all adapted and responded to COVID and I would like to thank everyone for your efforts since March.

    As colleagues know, research has continued on campus throughout the pandemic and more and more research has returned over the last few months. This is progressing well and I am grateful to everyone involved for ensuring we can continue to conduct research in a safe way.

    Now, as we approach the arrival of the majority of our students and the start of term, I wanted to remind colleagues of the progress we have made and the changes in place.

    Start of Term Preparation

    Colleagues have worked incredibly hard to prepare the campus and Oadby Village for the start of term. These actions include:

    • Specified maximum occupancies for all buildings and rooms, and prepared timetabling in line with capacities
    • Noted the requirement to monitor and manage activity levels and people numbers on campus (for education, research and social)
    • Mandated the wearing of face coverings and the use of SafeZone
    • Created key guidance for staff and students to set expectations, give guidance and help everyone to be prepared, notably: working safely on campus, studying safely on campus, working at home guidelines and guidance for face-to-face teaching.
    • Planned for student arrivals: accommodation, quarantine, Drop and Go, hygiene packs, virtual and in-person welcome events, and international airport pick-ups
    • Established additional social study spaces on campus for students
    • Introduced Live and Learn bubbles for students in University residences, Learn bubbles for commuter students and Live bubbles for students in private accommodation
    • Designed online and socially distanced events and activities such as LeicStayHome – a programme of exercises to complete at home/in halls
    • Developed an online onboarding communications plan for new and returning students focusing on safety, ignite and student conduct and behaviours
    • Established a working group to create a new way of agile working, including new flexible working options such as career breaks and reduced hours
    • Established reporting and support procedures for students and staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms
    • Communicated our plans and approach with community neighbourhood networks and groups.

    Work being completed this week:

    • The launch of a Safe Citizens Promise to reassure our local community, including a joint statement with DMU, on our commitment to ensure our students are safe and respect the community in which they live
    • Student Safety Training module on Blackboard
    • Working and Studying Safely on Campus videos.

    Scenario Planning

    Over the last six months we have learnt that we need to plan for many different scenarios. We must continually monitor and respond to local and national guidance, and adapt accordingly with the aim to minimise disruption for staff and students as much as we can whilst keeping everyone safe and well. We have:

    • Developed a COVID-19 Case Management Plan – high-level principles and actions to be the basis for student and staff communications and for more detailed operational responses
    • Developed a management framework (Scenario Levels and Transition Plan) for responding to different scenario levels, with predefined indicative actions across our range of activities
    • Proactively built and maintained close contact with Leicester City Council (LCC), Public Health and the Local Resilience Forum in order to ensure we have a comprehensive and holistic approach to further developments of the pandemic
    • Held two workshops with LCC to test our plans, with a joint DMU session to follow
    • Responded to the DfE request last week on their request for Outbreak Plans to be sent in by all HE providers.

    Work being completed in September:

    • Establish a new COVID Response Group to manage cases
    • Continuous review and refinement of detailed procedures for managing COVID cases
    • Work with LCC to obtain sign-off by the local Director of Public Health for our outbreak plans (DfE requirement)
    • Test and refine our Scenario Levels and Transition Plan.

    In October, we will close down the Lockdown Exit Group and move to a COVID Oversight Group (COG) to ensure we manage all COVID-related activity on campus.

    Whilst we are operating in very uncertain times, one thing we are clear on is that we will experience COVID cases on campus – in fact we already have. As we are seeing across the country in schools, we expect to isolate groups of staff and students as we manage cases on campus. Our planning ensures we have appropriate measures in place to respond to and manage cases at a local or university level. The level of activity and communication increases depending on the number of cases and the risks involved. A simplified process will be shared next week to ensure everyone on campus knows how to respond if a member of staff or student has symptoms or notifies them they have tested positive for COVID. We all need to play our part to keep our community safe and it is important that we all follow the University’s processes and procedures.

    Guidance and Support

    Everyone across the University has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way and the way we will work in future will continue to evolve. To support these changes we have created web pages and the Resource Hub to ensure you can access the information and guidance you need. There is a lot of information on these sites and we are aware that there is a lot to absorb. Therefore, from next week we will:

    • Provide updated summaries to make this easier to access, with links to the main documents
    • Run bite-size information sessions and Q&A on key topics
    • Create a series of podcasts and videos on core themes
    • Update our FAQs
    • Re-establish the @covid-19 email to ask questions and to provide feedback and comments.

    We are very keen to hear which areas are causing you concern or where you need further information. Please email us. We will then respond quickly before the start of term to ensure you have all the information to hand.

    This week’s edition of The Citizen will provide more information and update on ignite and next week it will share information on our plans for the student experience on campus.

    Finally, I want to remind everyone about taking care of your own wellbeing. Explore the resources for staff wellbeing.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    14 September 2020

    Email to staff (09:45)

    Dear colleagues

    I would like to start by welcoming you all to the new academic year. Over the next few weeks, we will bring the campus back to life safely so that we can begin to get back to ‘normality’ as we welcome staff and students. I am really looking forward to being back on campus as I have missed my interactions with students and colleagues and the general buzz of university life.

    I am fully aware that returning to campus and starting the new term is not without its challenges and some colleagues (and students) may, understandably, be nervous. Careful preparations have been underway for some time and I am in no doubt how complex this work has been and how much thought and detail has gone into ensuring that we deliver the best possible education and student experience, whilst also keeping our community safe and well. I was very encouraged to hear that we welcomed around 200 PGCE students to campus last week and the feedback from both staff and students was extremely positive.

    As you all know, campus has not actually been closed since March. We continued with vital COVID-related research and colleagues in Estates and Digital Services kept our campus safe and supported those students who remained in our halls of residence. Over the last few months, more research activity has returned to campus and student-facing colleagues have returned to support preparations for the new term. We also operated confirmation and Clearing on campus during August and early September.

    I am conscious that as more colleagues return to campus, many more will continue to work from home. Over the next few months we will develop a vision for agile working to drive a new operational approach for professional service colleagues. This will provide a framework for how people will work in a flexible way, both from home and on campus, whilst supporting your health and wellbeing and your personal development.

    The new academic year will be different for us all as we continue to adjust to our ‘new normal’. However, our focus remains the same as we strive to achieve our ambition of being a world-leading, research-intensive university. We must not lose sight of our goals in delivering the best education and university experience for our students while retaining our strong focus on community and inclusivity.

    An incredible amount of work has gone into the development of ignite, our new blended learning approach, and I would like to commend Professor Graham Wynn and everyone involved for their efforts in creating a flexible educational experience without compromising on quality or safety. There is much discussion across the sector on whether we should deliver face-to-face teaching this term. I believe we should. Face-to-face delivery is important for our students and their education, which is why we have ensured we can still deliver this in a way which is safe for everyone involved. The benefit of ignite is that it provides us with the flexibility to deliver online and face-to-face teaching and to adapt our offer to changes in the local and national situation. The successful delivery of ignite will be of paramount importance this year and I encourage everyone to continue to work collaboratively and develop a sector-leading approach to flexible learning.

    In order to achieve our ambitions and be financially resilient, student recruitment remains a critical area of activity as we move from the end of one recruitment cycle to the next. I am very pleased with this year’s Home undergraduate recruitment position. After a tumultuous period of change and uncertainty, our estimated position is set to exceed our original student number control target. Under the circumstances this is an excellent outcome and I am grateful to everyone involved in helping us to achieve this. International student recruitment, which is predominantly postgraduate students for us, is more challenging and it is too early to predict this year’s numbers.

    As we look to 2021 entry we must deliver a recruitment strategy that will reduce an excessive reliance on Clearing to meet our targets. The University of Leicester is a fantastic university and should be a first choice for more students. The next few months are a critical time to engage with prospective students, many of whom have not had the opportunity to attend a UCAS fair or an open day in person. It is therefore vital that academic and professional services colleagues work together to deliver the best digital experience possible to provide the information and guidance these students deserve.

    I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together over the last few months. Once again we have been named as one of the world’s best universities in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings. We retained our position as one of the top 25 UK universities featured in the prestigious list, after being ranked 23rd. But there is more to do to strengthen our position and performance to ensure this great university flourishes in its second century. The new academic year will bring many challenges, but I am confident with a clear focus, collaborative working and agility to respond to rapidly changing national and global developments we will excel in all that we do.

    Thank you all for your dedication to the University, for your hard work, commitment and kindness during this difficult time.

    I look forward to seeing you on campus, or virtually at your digital office, over the coming months.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor