As the new term approaches, we are preparing for the arrival of new and returning students for next term. Some teams have already been on campus, keeping essential services going, and many teams working directly with, or supporting students, are now beginning to have more of a presence on our campuses to ensure that we can welcome our students back. There will be a gradual build up from early September and by Welcome Week we expect to see a return to large numbers of students enjoying all that campus life has to offer.

The gradual reopening will take place over the coming weeks and we will keep you informed as each student service or catering outlet starts welcoming on-site visitors again, and as each milestone is reached on the road to the new term.

Non student-facing staff might also be thinking about coming back to campus to re-familiarise themselves with their desk and the office, to enjoy re-engaging with colleagues in person, or just for a change of scenery. If you are planning to do this, you should speak to your manager and, subject to their agreement, complete the return to campus training, and check on steps to take if you are bringing your computer equipment to campus. Please also take a lateral flow test before you set off on the day you are coming into campus.

We are opening up to the wider community too. We have been able to hold some small open days at our Southend and Colchester campuses and we will be welcoming more visitors onto Colchester campus to enjoy our award-winning parkland. The Forum at Southend has also been open to the public as well as our staff and students. At Loughton we are looking forward to welcoming public audiences back to the Corbett Theatre.

To kick start the return and for some summer fun, there will be live music on Square 3 at our Colchester Campus every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and on the Silberrad plaza every Saturday until 2 October. You can find out more about this programme of events on our Staff Directory.

Work is also underway to consider whether to reduce the protection level for our community from sustained to targeted protection. You can see what that means here.

Look out in Essex Weekly for more about coming back to campus life.