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Dear all,  

The senior leadership team have been meeting regularly over the last couple of weeks to develop contingency plans for the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. The situation continues to evolve, but we hope to provide as much clarity as we can and allay some of the uncertainty this is generating for you all. We have also sent a message to students which you can read here

Please note the following updated health advice. 

 If you are feeling unwell with either  

  • A new continuous cough   
  • A high temperature   

You must not come into work and you should remain at home for at least seven days. Further NHS guidance can be found here.  

The Government yesterday announced that the UK is formally moving into a different phase of its strategy to manage the outbreak. In line with the Government advice, based on scientific modelling, we remain open as a university.  

However, due to the current local pressures on healthcare providers, which have led to the withdrawal of some clinical placements, all clinical placements are cancelled from now (Friday 13 March) until at least Monday 23 March. 

We also recognise that teams across the University are needing to prioritise so that activities critical to our education and research mission can continue over the months ahead. As a result, staff may decide to stop or postpone some non-essential activities, e.g. internal seminars. 

We anticipate that the position will change in the coming weeks and we are making plans accordingly. Below is our latest guidance on activities at St George’s. 

Working from home

  • If you or someone you live with may be at risk of more severe effects of the virus (e.g. due to a pre-existing medical condition), you may work from home immediately on an open-ended basis.
  • If you have any other reasons for wishing to work from home and can work effectively remotely, following discussion with your line manager and their approval, you may start to do so. 
  • Advice on remote working is available here.

Communications and updates  

  • We will be keeping in touch with you as the position evolves with any urgent messages and regular updates.   
  • The FAQs on the website will continue to be updated regularly. Please refer to these in the first instance for answers to any questions you might have. There is also an online form you can use to ask any questions not covered in the current advice. 
  • We are aware that some staff are dealing with a high volume of enquiries. If any answers are already covered in the FAQs, please use these in your responses.  
  • Please notify the Communications team via communications@sgul.ac.uk about any new questions you are receiving so they can update the FAQs, or if there is information you suggest is covered in the new regular bulletins.

 Teaching

  • Clinical placements are cancelled at least until Monday 23 March. The pause will give placement hosts the opportunity to make plans in a changing environment and evaluate the circumstances in which students can pursue educational opportunities. Further updates on plans for clinical placements will follow.
  • At some point it is likely that we will need to change our model for delivering lectures and other face-to-face education activities. We are working on preparations for remote and online working.

Events, meetings and conferences  

  • In light of the exceptional circumstances and associated workload with responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have cancelled some routine meetings to free up staff capacity.  
  • We advise staff not to attend external meetings where there are likely to be international audiences such as academic meetings and conferences.  

Academic and research staff  

  • Conversations are ongoing at a senior level concerning contingency planning to ensure continued operation of the BRF and other research support facilities.  
  • Measures which research staff should take now can be found here.
  • Guidance for investigators and research staff involved in clinical research studies is being sent today.
  • If you are involved in supporting students or research staff who are working or studying overseas, please contact them to ascertain if they require any support, checking they are aware of the latest travel advice (see relevant section in the FAQs) and are clear of any specific guidance of the organisation where they are based. If there are circumstances to discuss, please contact your institute director.  

As the outbreak develops, as colleagues, we all have a responsibility to help minimise the risk of transmission within our community.   

I would urge you to also continue to follow Government advice to continue to wash your hands regularly – or use hand sanitiser – and to follow the above guidance.   

 

Best wishes, 

Professor Jenny Higham  

Principal  

St George’s, University of London   

 

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