At the beginning of June, Principal Jenny Higham emailed you all to outline the plans for a phased return to site. Since then the first phase has been in progress, successfully restoring laboratory-based scientific research on-site. Thanks to the hard work and determination of staff, this has gone well and gives us a firm foundation to build upon as we continue to restore other onsite functions.
I am writing to you today to update you on the second phase which comes into effect on Monday 13 July.
The second phase is the return of some basic services for students, such as the Library computer room, study spaces, basic Library services and printing services, alongside the Physio Labs, Radiography Suite, Paramedic Simulation Suite and OSCE cubicles. Preparations have also been undertaken to establish socially-distanced teaching facilities and to allow access to the site to facilitate the Midwifery School move to Kingston Hill. Visitor access to site will also be restored.
Some staff in the Clinical Skills team, Physicians Associate team, Technical and Teaching Services team, IMBE Comms team and Library team are returning to work onsite. Staff in these areas will have now been contacted by their line manager to discuss and agree arrangements. Staff who identified themselves as vulnerable or had concerns about returning to site will be given the opportunity to complete a personal risk assessment. The outcome of the risk assessment should be discussed with their line manager and the University will help to accommodate needs and allay any concerns where possible. Further advice will be obtained from Occupational Health and HR if needed.
If you haven’t been contacted and think that you should have been, please contact your line manager. Please do not return to site unless you have been specifically advised to.
Institutional safety measures
The top priority throughout this process is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. With this in mind, we have undertaken a detailed institutional risk assessment so that everyone is able to see for themselves the thorough steps which have been taken to ensure this as much as possible. Risk assessments are being undertaken for each phase. Further measures which have been taken to manage risks include:
- Undertaking local risk assessments and implementing mitigations, led by line managers and area leads
- Cleansing facilities and providing additional resources for individual hand cleaning/ clear hand cleansing signage
- Displaying signage for social distancing and one-way routes on-site
- The provision of necessary PPE by the University, if required.
Staff responsibilities and key principles
In addition to actions the University is taking, staff are required to comply with the principles guiding our return to site, which will evolve to reflect the latest Government guidance. This of course will change with time but at present, the following points apply:
- Any work that can be done at home, should be done at home.
- Shielding, extremely vulnerable and vulnerable staff/students should work at home wherever possible in line with government advice. If vulnerable individuals need to return to site, an individual risk assessment evaluating fitness to return should be completed and discussed with their line manager. Further advice may be obtained from Occupational Health and HR. Willingness to return to campus does not automatically mean they should.
- Individuals must self-isolate if they have even mild symptoms of Covid-19, or are a household contact of someone who has been symptomatic. Anyone with symptoms should obtain a test through the government Test and Trace system. Members of staff who work in education, are entitled to priority testing. Tests can be booked online, or ordered by telephone via NHS 119.
- Staff and students should minimise use of public transport as far as possible; if it is necessary to use public transport, face coverings are mandatory and staff should try to arrange work so that travel can be at off-peak times.
- Staff and Students should go directly to and from their destination and not linger onsite.
- Face coverings must be worn if entering the Hospital site and we recommend wearing face coverings whilst in the communal walkways and reception of the University.
- Line managers and Course Leads will facilitate staff and students to organise their work to enable social distancing, but individuals must also take personal responsibility. Where it is not possible to organise work to maintain social distancing then careful consideration must be given as to whether or not this activity should proceed. If it must then additional precautions must be identified to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
- Staff and students are advised to bring their own food and drink to work if required.
- Staff and students must wash their hands with soap and water or hand gel frequently and whenever leaving the laboratory/placement.
The full list of guiding principles can be reviewed here. Staff are required to review these before they come on to site.
Key documents for staff
All staff need to read and familiarise themselves with the following documents, which are now available on the Return to Site webpages.
There are also FAQs on the staff pages that should be reviewed covering:
- Return to site
- Face coverings and face masks
- Library usage
- Room usage
- Site Visitors process
A handy pocket guide on social distancing and returning to site can be found here. A large-font version is also available here.
Lastly, I would like to thank all colleagues who have worked intensively to devise and implement the policies and procedures to support the safe delivery of the next phase in our response to Covid-19. We aim to return to site in a way which prioritises the safety of our staff and students, while also enabling the vital research and teaching we offer, and the services we provide to support these, to continue.
Very best wishes
Chief Operating Officer
St George’s, University of London