Message to members on behalf of the branch committee, Friday 25 September 2020
Following our email to the deputy vice chancellor on 18th September, and the dismissive response that we initially received, we note that communication has now come from the vice-chancellor stating that thinking around face to face teaching at University of Leeds is ‘evolving’ and that:
“Where it is safe, practicable, and pedagogically advantageous or necessary, teaching should be delivered face-to-face, rather than online. However, in instances where those criteria cannot be met, we would recommend that you move your teaching online.”
Our position is that all teaching should be online unless it is absolutely necessary to do it face to face, and we are pleased to see the university moving towards that position. The health and safety of staff and students ought to be at the heart of planning.
There are still some uncertainties about the statement: in particular, the statement that small classes are expected to remain face to face is vague and needs further clarification. And we are increasingly worried about the public health implications of large numbers of people on campus and in residence at the university.
We understand that a significant number of students are already, in induction week, self-isolating, and the signs from Scotland, where students are being told not to socialise this weekend, are not good.
It remains our position that the university must limit as far as is possible the amount of activity on campus, in order to reduce the risk to everyone, including essential workers and staff teaching and supporting activities which can only be done on campus. We call upon the university senior management to work with campus trades unions across all areas of university activity over the challenging weeks to come.
Staff must not be required to work on campus unnecessarily, and, any UCU members with specific health and safety concerns about being required to work on campus should contact the branch for support – email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly concerned about reports that casualised and hourly paid staff are being asked to take on a disproportionate amount of on campus work.