Today the University released figures suggesting the cases of Coronovirus reported in the last week numbered 269 new cases. They have also added 82 additional cases to last week’s total, due to late reporting, bringing that figure to 640. It seems the additional control measures are not doing enough. Face to Face teaching and student support are still going on in some parts of the University despite the large number of cases reported a week ago, and since last week’s initial publication of numbers, there have been no further policy changes or communications about teaching. Furthermore, we are concerned about the possibility of under-reporting meaning that the real figures could be much higher.
The University of Leeds are still working on the basis that schools/services can decide whether teaching/support is safe and pedagogically necessary. Given the looseness of this guidance, inconsistent practices continue, although we welcome that some schools have reduced or removed on campus teaching and events. Nonetheless, teaching and support staff are still being asked to come in, and we are particularly concerned for colleagues on fractional contracts and PGR teaching staff who may be compelled to teach on campus or lose their income. In the emergency meeting on the 1st of October, a motion was passed stating we will register a dispute with Leeds University management if they insist on proceeding with coercion of staff into face to face activity, deeming it to be in breach of the university policy on Dignity and Mutual Respect.
On Monday night it was revealed that the government’s scientific advisers recommended three weeks ago that all university and college teaching should be online unless face to face sessions were absolutely necessary. We are frustrated that University leaders are not listening to either to this scientific advice or UCU, who have been calling for a move online since even earlier in September.
UCU continue to support colleagues who are being asked to teach or do other face to face work on campus but feel unsafe to do so. Please speak with your local rep or contact email@example.com for support if you are in this situation. Branch officers will continue to use our meetings with University management to call for an end to in-person activities. An ordinary general meeting is scheduled for next Thursday 22nd of October for further discussion amongst members.