Open letter to parents and carers from our President and Vice-Chancellor
Dear Parents and Carers
In October, we updated you on our plans to ensure that we were looking after and protecting the safety of our community. This included being one of only a handful of universities to roll out a COVID-19 screening programme to staff and students, implementing ‘live and learn’ bubbles and teaching through a new blended-learning approach ‘ignite’.
Since September, we have been publishing our COVID-19 case numbers on our website. In the last full reporting week 4 staff members and 11 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 they have taken.
We implemented a wellbeing support package for all students who have been self-isolating, and when we entered the second national lockdown, we provided a full programme of wellbeing and pastoral support and social activities for our students.
As we approach the end of term and the start of the festive season, we are now focusing on helping students to return home safely but also ensuring continued support for their studies. All teaching will take place online by 9 December.
We know that where possible, students are keen to be with their families, carers and friends over Christmas. The Government has supported students to do this as safely as possible, by creating a travel exemption period from 3-9 December. We have been delivering rapid testing to students to help them return home and this is still available to book or drop into until 22 December.
Students are staggering their travel times and instructed to follow Government guidance if using public transport. A survey of our students indicates that the vast majority will return home and 70 per cent of them will travel by car.
We will be staying in touch with all our students over Christmas and will be continuing our support by providing a programme of events.
For students who will stay in Leicester, we will be providing continued activities and support. Students remaining on campus we will be fully supported on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with access to food, medical supplies and 24/7 pastoral support.
We realise that life at university is not what many students expected this year but we are committed to ensuring we support our students in every way we can.
With respect to returning in the New Year, the Government has now published its guidance, indicating a staggered return and use of mass testing to make students’ return to university and their accommodation as safe as possible. We aim to return to as much face-to-face learning as possible for all our students next term and have begun making plans locally. We will update our students regularly on plans for next term.
Our students have been amazing during this first term; diligent, positive and understanding. I am proud that they are part of the University of Leicester community and I very much look forward to seeing them again in 2021.
For further information on our response to COVID-19 please visit our website.
Season’s greetings to you all.
President and Vice-Chancellor