You will have seen that the University has issued further guidance in relation to returning to campus over the next month, including some in-person teaching and other activity. Much of this guidance has not been subject to trade union consultation, and I know that many of us as staff members have concerns, particularly given rising covid-19 case, hospitalisation and death rates, which, despite the vaccine roll-out, are higher than they were this time last year.
UCU officers have again pressed HR for the university to give assurances to staff who are vulnerable to covid-19, or live with people who are, and therefore feel particularly vulnerable to and/or anxious about returning to in-person activity. HR say that the university will take into account people’s individual circumstances and they are keen to get the message across that anyone in this position should approach your head of school or line manager to discuss your situation and what can be done to support you. This applies to anyone who is concerned – you do not have to have a medical diagnosis or long term condition. If you do not wish to speak to your head of school, you can speak to your local HR manager instead. If these conversations do not go well and you are not meeting a sympathetic approach, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – the branch will take on cases individually and collectively to support members.
We have heard concerns from UCU members about face coverings and in particular about students not being required to wear them in teaching space. It has to be said that the government’s positioning is not helping the University – it is difficult to enforce mask wearing when it is not compulsory elsewhere, and we recognise this. Officers are, however, continuing to raise this with the University: given the current case rate, we would like to see the position changed.
There has been a lot of work going on around campus involving health and safety staff and trade union representatives around the kinds of mitigations that are needed to limit the spread of covid-19, recognising that nowhere can be 100% covid-safe. Rooms, including teaching spaces, will have a reduced capacity – this should be made clear in every room, as should necessary distance markings etc, and we urge everyone to respect those. You can find information about what is being done about things like cleaning and ventilation here – this also includes information as to where to report any issues – please keep us in the loop if you have concerns.
This page was last updated on 8 September 2021