Students Staff
University of Essex

March 13, 2020

Enhanced Protection Measures

The UK Chief Medical Officers has raised the risk level from COVID-19 in the UK from Moderate to High and I want to update you on the steps that we are taking as a University to protect our staff and students against the spread and impact of the virus.

We have not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our campuses. Nevertheless, as the number of cases in the UK increases, we want to take pre-emptive steps to protect members of our community and their families from the risk of infection.

During recent weeks, University colleagues have been developing a phased approach to protect our community. We are now implementing ‘Enhanced Protection’ measures, with effect from 9am on Monday 16 March.

Amongst other steps this will include:

  • Suspending all face-to-face delivery of teaching and supervision. All teaching, supervision and academic support will be delivered online from Monday 16 March. This may include onsite delivery of teaching where appropriate (for example, lectures delivered on site if necessary and captured by Listen Again for student to access on-line). Details of alternative delivery arrangements will be communicated to staff and students by Heads of Department.
  • Whenever and wherever possible there will be no physical examinations on any campus during the summer term for all groups of taught students, including postgraduates. A detailed plan is under development with departments to ensure that we can continue to assess and progress students and to ensure that degrees can be awarded. This will include alternative methods of assessment. For modules where alternative assessment is not possible, physical assessment will be undertaken in a carefully managed way. Details of revised assessment arrangements will be published through the examinations timetable. Further details will be communicated to all students by the Academic Registrar on Monday 16 March.
  • Suspending all University public events and gatherings.
  • The Albert Sloman Library, Loughton Library, The Forum Library at Southend and all learning facilities will remain open, with social distancing measures implemented to protect members of our community (maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others).
  • All our University sports facilities will be closed from 00.01 on Monday 16 March.
  • Until further notice Wivenhoe Park Day Nursery will remain open for those who wish to continue to use the nursery.
  • Enabling staff who can work remotely to do so as well as implementing social distancing measures on our campuses. Staff should consult their line managers to confirm working arrangements and any support required.
  • If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or the result of a long-term health problem or for any other reason and have not yet contacted our Occupational Health team please do so, so that we can provide specific advice and support to you. You can email them at covid19@essex.ac.uk.

It is important to emphasise that our campuses – which are home to thousands of students – will remain open and we will continue to provide key on-campus services for students and staff. On-site services and facilities such as health and well-being services, our Health Centre, Information Centre, post room, catering outlets and shops will remain open, with social distancing measures implemented to protect members of our community.

We are continuing to focus on keeping our campuses as clean and hygienic as possible, with increased cleaning regimes, particularly in high footfall and public areas and targeting specific risk issues such as door handles and encouraging members of our community to practice good hygiene by washing hands regularly and using the hand sanitisers provided across our campuses.

Full details of our ‘Enhanced Protection’ measures are available online. It may be necessary to further increase the scale of protection to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our community. In such a case, our ‘Advanced Protection’ measures will ensure that campuses and accommodation continue to remain open, supported by essential services. I am especially mindful of the contributions of colleagues who support essential services, and those who have specific responsibilities for ensuring the safety, security, cleanliness and smooth operation of our campuses as home to thousands of students.

Should you have any concerns please contact covid19@essex.ac.uk.

Financial Security

I do not want any colleagues to be worried about arrangements for pay if you become ill or are required to self-isolate.

  • For members of staff on permanent and fixed-term contracts: if you are self-isolating, working at home, or required to stay at home, you will be paid in the normal way and there will be no need to self-certify or produce medical certificates.
  • For on demand staff including GTAs/GLAs:if you have been offered work and can’t carry out the work as it cannot be done from home, you will be paid as if you had worked.
  • Ifon demand staff have to self-isolate, you will receive Statutory Sick Pay in accordance with your contract. The government is updating the rules around Statutory Sick Pay and we will ensure we are up to date with these changes as they occur.
  • If your contract is due to end and you are at home, you will be paid in the normal way until the end of the contract.

We have provided information about pay on our dedicated COVID-19 page for staff. If you have any question please do not hesitate to contact us at covid19@essex.ac.uk.

I am currently unsure how long it will be necessary for us to implement these measures. I would urge you to keep up to date with the information on our dedicated web pages which are updated daily and provide information about other Coronavirus related matters, for both staff and students.

We are ensuring that these also reflect the latest information from Public Health England, the World Health Organisation and others.  If you have any questions which are not answered on these web pages, please email us at: covid19@essex.ac.uk.

Finally, I want to recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic and the pre-emptive steps that we are taking to enhance protection of our community will create significant disruption to our lives, and to the work of the University. I want to assure you that we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that we safeguard educational outcomes for our students while ensuring that the wellbeing and health of our staff, students and wider community remains our first priority.

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