The Government yesterday announced new COVID ‘Plan B’ rules and the Department for Education has today also published updated guidance for higher education providers (.pdf).  I am writing to let you know the steps the University will be taking as we enter this further period of national restrictions in the run up to Christmas.

What does this mean for me? 

We will be continuing face-to-face teaching until the end of the Autumn term 2021 and on-campus research activities will also be continuing.  

Facilities on our campuses, including our libraries, research laboratories, sports facilities, food outlets and shops, will continue to operate as currently, subject to the protective measures the University has in place (such as our requirements for mask wearing) and new requirements being introduced by Government, such as the need for COVID vaccine certification for entry to nightclubs.

What else do I need to know? 

  • The University requires the use of face coverings in all indoor spaces, such as student teaching spaces, study spaces, library, all circulation areas, toilets and kitchens, unless you are medically exempt or exempted through specific agreed risk assessment. Masks are available from dispensers around our campuses.  
  • Vaccine certification does not apply to teaching and learning but does apply to large events that meet the attendance thresholds and venues (like nightclubs) that are covered by the regulations. 
  • Until now international students have had to isolate if they were identified as having been in close contact with a positive Covid case even if they were fully vaccinated. From now, any student whose vaccine is recognised at the UK border will now be in the same position as anyone vaccinated in the UK. 
  • Self-isolating for Omicron contacts has been replaced by daily LFT testing for those who are fully vaccinated which should reduce the number of students having to self-isolate. 
  • You should take a test before you travel home for the Christmas break, and before you travel back to term-time accommodation in January. 

The additional measures that we put in place last week also remain in place.   

In addition to the requirement to wear face-coverings set out above, these also include, social distancing where possible and testing twice a week or if you have any COVID or cold symptoms. Anyone not able to wear a mask should be asked to socially distance. If you able to, please get vaccinated including taking up early boosters.  You can check the number of cases on campus on our live tracker.

Thank you for everything that you are doing to keep us all safe. I do appreciate that the introduction of these additional measures at this time of the year is especially challenging.  I will keep in touch to update you as soon as I can as circumstances change, including with our plans for the Spring Term (17 January to 25 March 2022).