I am really sorry to have to email again about our arrangements for the Spring Term. Further guidance from the Department for Education and the Prime Minister’s announcement last night (4 January 2021) has required us to review our plans and our approach to the Spring Term.
The Chair of University Council and the Vice-Chancellor have taken the necessary but difficult decision that the University move to our highest level of ‘Advanced Protection’. We have set out what this means on the University website, in our University of Essex Business Continuity Plan which has just been updated, in response to further Government guidance.
As I set out on 1 January, we will continue to restrict the number of students allowed to start face-to-face teaching to a very limited number of subjects where a face-to-face component is absolutely essential, with most students not being permitted to return to on-campus university teaching. Having reviewed the latest guidance and information that we have available, we will continue with scheduled face-to-face teaching for the following courses:
Within the School of Health and Social Care from 4 January:
Within the School of Sports, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, from 18 January:
We will continue to keep essential teaching under review to ensure that these activities can be delivered in ways that safeguard the health and wellbeing of staff and students.
For all students who are not studying on the courses included above, the Government has said that you should stay where you are if possible and study on-line until at least mid-February. We anticipate that it is possible that, depending on the rate of infections in the coming weeks, further Government guidance may advise that face-to-face teaching will not be allowed for the whole of the Spring Term. We will keep you updated as we receive further guidance and continue to review our plans in light of the changing context of the pandemic. Our dual-delivery plans are based on supporting your learning through a blend of online and face-to-face activities, whenever it is safe to do so. We will keep under review the possibility of a return to face-to-face teaching for more courses, but recognise that this will depend on when we are permitted to do so by the Government, and our assessments of what is safe for students and staff.
The Government guidance allows some exceptions to the limitations on travelling to our campuses. If you need access to University facilities to study or if it is better for you to be in your term-time accommodation for your health and wellbeing, you can return, but you should not use any facilities on campus or interact with other students until you have tested negative for COVID-19. Details of how to access a test on campus are available here. A full list of reasons why you might be able to return is here.
If you are travelling from outside the UK and are not able to change your travel arrangements you can still travel, however you should follow all guidance on quarantine requirements and COVID testing, and check with your airline before leaving home. Please also make yourself familiar with the guidance for travelling to your accommodation on arrival in the UK.
If you have not made travel plans yet, you should wait for further information before you make your plans. All other students should follow UK Government guidance and remain at their vacation address until advised to return to University.
Our facilities such as libraries, study spaces and, on our Colchester Campus, a limited range of essential amenities will remain open for students to use in a COVID-secure way. Staff required to operate these essential campus services are considered essential workers, vital to the continuation of education, and will be able to travel to work.
We have provided substantial flexibility to students allocated rooms in University-owned and managed accommodation, so that they have been able to defer taking up their tenancies or to pause them for periods when residents have chosen to study away from campus. We will maintain this flexible approach during the period of ‘Advanced Protection’, so that students don’t pay for accommodation before they have moved in, or during periods when their tenancy is paused. This flexible approach provides a fair means of recognising the impact of changes in study patterns on students in University accommodation.
Any students who find themselves in financial hardship are able to apply for support from the University’s Hardship Fund.
I know this is a difficult time for everyone. We appreciate that these arrangements will create particular challenges for care leavers, estranged students, international students, and those for whom studying from home may be difficult. It has also been difficult for our students who have stayed on campus or are living alone in the vicinity of our campuses. If you need to speak to someone, please contact us for any help or support. Details of how to contact us are here.
Students can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.