Students Staff
University of Essex

March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Enhanced Protection – Safeguarding our community

As the virus spreads in the UK, with direct impacts on both our work and home lives and to our health and wellbeing, 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.

As well as following Public Health England and UK Government advice, we are taking our own pre-emptive, protective action to safeguard the welfare of our community when we consider this the right thing to do. On 13 March I emailed all staff and students to set out a range of ‘Enhanced Protection’ measures that we are taking to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our community. If we need to take further steps, we will implement a range of ‘Advanced Protection’ measures. We have published these Business Continuity plans for staff and students to access on our COVID-19 information pages online.

I want to reiterate that whilst most teaching, supervision and academic support will be delivered online from Monday 16 March, our campuses remain open. Our campuses will continue to be environments where we follow the latest medical guidance to ensure that staff and students on campus remain protected, safe and supported. For some students, the safest and most secure place may well be on campus.

Our Four Work Streams

In addition to existing work on Business Continuity (led by the Registrar and Secretary); Student Recruitment (led by the DVC); and Financial Security (led by the Director of Finance, Planning and Data Insight), I have launched a ‘People’ work stream, led by Susie Morgan, our Director of People and Culture. The People work stream will ensure that we maintain an enhanced focus on our people and our community throughout the pandemic.

There are a number of strands to this work, including:

  • Focusing on staff and students who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 (for example because of age, long-term health problems or for any other reason) – and those of us supporting people in our families who are at higher risk.
  • Avoiding any sense of staff and students having to choose between looking after family members and their work commitments.
  • Providing reassurance to staff, including on demand staff such as GTAs/GLAs about arrangements for pay if they become ill or are required to self-isolate.
  • Reviewing travel and other guidance to staff and students.
  • Supporting staff and students who are home working or self-isolating, recognising and addressing the health and wellbeing issues that this raises and addressing the equality implications for staff and students.
  • Re-doubling our efforts to ensure that our three campuses remain safe for everyone who lives and works on them, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing and limiting gatherings of people.

Following the start of a period of ‘Enhanced Protection’ from Monday 16 March, Susie Morgan has emailed with additional information on what this will mean for staff in relation to working from home and working on our campuses. Each member of staff, whatever our working arrangements during the period of ‘Enhanced Protection’, will be making an important contribution to keeping our campuses safe and looking out for each other. I want to give special recognition to the contributions of colleagues who provide essential services on our campuses and have specific responsibilities for ensuring their safety, security, food, cleanliness and smooth operation as home to thousands of our students.

Updates will be part of our regular communications over the coming weeks and months and available on the website, on our pages for staff and for students. If there is anything more we can do to respond to any concerns that you have, please do get in contact at covid19@essex.ac.uk.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges for all of us. I want to assure you that the health and wellbeing of our students and staff will remain my first priority in the weeks and months ahead. This crisis is requiring us to embrace new ways of thinking, different ways of working, and to respond to considerable disruption. Thank you to everyone for your support in meeting these challenges.

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