Following the lifting of all COVID-related government restrictions in England on 24 February, the University has continued to take a proportionate approach to the operation of our campuses. We committed to reviewing the arrangements we have in place again before 25 March 2022, and that review has now taken place.
We recognise that national infection levels are currently increasing and have decided that we therefore need to leave some of the current measures in place. Others can be lifted with effect from 26 March 2022.
We will therefore remain in Targeted Protection until the start of the Summer Term and will review the arrangements again prior to 26 April 2022. This will enable us to ensure that we continue the process of increasing activity on our campuses for both students and staff whilst also reflecting the current pattern of infections.
What is changing?
It has been agreed to make the following changes, with effect from 26 March 2022:
- our spaces will be used to their full capacity, where appropriate ventilation is in place, and we will plan our 2022/23 timetable on this basis;
- campus-based staff will be able to return fully, ending “bubbles” and other business resilience measures; new IT hardware is currently being deployed for those in the Smart Working at Essex project, and there are IT-related return to campus processes in place for other staff;
- the COVID test centres on our campuses will be stood down; however, we will retain stocks of tests should we need to deploy them in the following ways:
- in support of staff who are travelling overseas on University business;
- to respond to specific work-requirements that might warrant testing (e.g. in the nursery or zero distance teaching in HSC and SRES);
- in the case of an outbreak on one of our campuses;
- should we require them during the Autumn/Winter of 2022 (linked to any DfE guidance); and
- committee meetings will be moving back to being held in-person, to a timetable agreed by USG; this has started this term. This will not generally preclude remote attendance from Southend or Loughton for meetings held on the Colchester campus; other exceptions may be agreed with paper sponsors or the Chair or may be recommended by the Occupational Health team.
What protections will remain in place?
The following measures will remain in place and will be reviewed again in time for the start of the Summer term:
- face coverings are still encouraged indoors in teaching events and large gatherings where it is not possible to socially distance;
- staff and students are asked not to attend campus or use the on-campus facilities if they test positive, with special leave being available for those who are not too unwell to work but cannot work from home; and
- staff and students are still asked to notify the COVID inbox should they test positive, so that we can continue to monitor infection levels and provide support and advice as needed.
Further communications on these changes will be shared with staff and students through the weekly newsletters. Any questions should be directed to the COVID inbox.
Individuals who are concerned about the impact of these changes on them personally can discuss this with their line manager in the first instance, who can seek further advice from People and Culture as needed (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)