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CORONAVIRUS - Update from the University

Dear Postgraduates,

Please find below today's update from the Vice Chancellor surrounding Coronavirus:

"To all staff and students, Following my message on Friday outlining the extensive work that has been done over several weeks, and the likelihood of a need to respond to further government announcements in the coming days and weeks, I am writing to outline how we are responding. Before doing that, can I thank all staff and students who were on campus to receive and talk with prospective students and their families on Saturday. As we suspected there were a number of applicants who did attend, and they were very appreciative of the support they received. We are now publishing the approach we have developed in anticipation of the need to respond to the developing Covid-19 pandemic. This includes guidance we have anticipated will be needed to support the implementation of the approach. It includes:

Immediate arrangements relating to those in, and caring for, high risk groups;Preparations to postpone all face-to-face teaching, where possible, by no later than Friday 20th March and earlier if possible; Prioritising efforts next week to ensure affected students are supported to complete their modules and related assessments by alternative means;Enabling staff to be well supported to prepare, in the longer term, to move to online delivery of teaching for the remainder of the academic year;Preparations, should this be required at some point in the future, to enable as many staff as possible to work from home;How we will continue to keep the University open and services operational.

The approach and guidance aims to prioritise efforts to ensure no detriment to students at critical points in their studies, or to staff; while continuing to put the health, safety and well-being of all members of our community first. The guidance also aims to position us to fulfil our societal responsibilities and ensure that measures to impact the rate, extent and potential return of infection are not compromised by undue panic, misinformation or politicising of the current situation.  The University will not close the campus. However, while the prevailing view of scientific advisors to government remains that significant social distancing measures should not be introduced at this stage, it is clear that concerns of staff, particularly those in, and caring for, high risk groups, now places our ability to successfully deliver face-to-face teaching at some risk. This is why we have taken the decision to suspend face-to-face teaching from no later than Friday 20th March 2020. We will continue to develop more detailed guidance and expand a series of established FAQs for both staff and students that gives as much clarity as we can, at this stage, about what changes to our activities will occur as the current situation develops over the coming days and weeks. The current situation is a concerning time for us all, including those students who are towards the end of your degree programmes with us. Please be assured that we do have contingency plans in place both to ensure that we can deliver and assess your learning in ways that your overall results will not be compromised. Over the next few days Schools will be providing information on how they will be supporting you. This is in addition to the Student Services support already in place and the additional advice and guidance we will continue to provide. We recognise that many students will be worried about this situation and you must do what you feel is right for your own circumstances.  I would like to pay tribute to all staff and students for their efforts at this concerning time. It would not be possible to have been as prepared as we are, without the loyalty, commitment, hard work and professionalism of so many people across and beyond campus over the last few weeks, particularly at a time when we have also experienced and been managing the impact of a period of industrial action. I would also like to thank those members of staff who are making important contributions to the media discussions around the current situation and to those academic staff providing their expertise directly to government.    Finally, I would to send particular thanks to our operational staff who continue to work and ensure we maintain our statutory responsibilities and critical service delivery, and to those working and on placement in the NHS in the challenging months ahead."

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