Current context (April 2021)
Throughout the pandemic higher education has been recognised as an essential activity. Some colleagues have remained on campus throughout to carry out and support this essential work. HE colleagues have been classified as Key Workers and are able to attend work to deliver on-site activity. The campus has also remained open for any student or member of staff that needs to access it for health and wellbeing reasons.
At the start of term, in line with the Government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England, the government prioritised the return to face-to-face teaching for students on courses which had to be delivered in-person and which supported the pipeline of future critical key workers. All students on practical and practise-based courses who require access to specialist equipment or facilities have been able to return to university from 8 March 2021. This means many of our students are already back on campus. In our residences, for example, over 50% of our undergraduates and close to 80% of our postgraduates are back.
The Government will issue further guidance about the return of students on all other courses shortly. We must of course continue to provide services to students on our campuses, and to academic colleagues that are on campus teaching them and carrying out research, education and learning activities. In addition to supporting students and research, any staff member who wants to come onto our campuses to access our facilities, or if they feel their wellbeing would be better served by being on campus, is very welcome to do so.
From 1 April 2021, in line with falling numbers of cases and the positive roll out of a vaccination programme, the Government will no longer be advising clinically vulnerable members of our community to shield. This guidance, and our thorough risk assessment processes, aim to support all our staff with their continued safe presence on, or return to, campus. Key equality considerations for managers have been included to ensure no member of our community is exposed to unnecessary or disproportionate risk to their ongoing health and wellbeing.
Current confirmed cases remain low with active, confirmed cases reported on a daily basis across our UK-based staff and student population.
People who started at Queen Mary in this last year may not have attended campus often. Please find below information that might be helpful.
Security and Access Control: You will need a staff ID card. This is necessary to get access to University buildings, and for using local printing and scanning facilities.
You get your staff ID from the control room for your campus, locations can be found here. These pages also give information on parking for vehicles and bikes, and a downloads section for the permits you may need.
Accessibility: The AccessAble website gives a useful access guide for most campus buildings. You can search by building name, e.g. ‘Garrod’ or ‘Fogg’ or “Barts”. This site also gives information on standard and accessible toilet facilities and, often, shows a photo of the building you want to locate.
Other useful links:
Our campuses have never been closed. Staff have been coming onto campus throughout the lockdown period to support our students and enable important research to continue.
We are taking a phased approach to staff returning to our campuses and are developing plans for staff who are currently working remotely to return safely to our campuses to re-establish and support our community.
We are seeking to achieve this in a way that enables our colleagues to deliver the very best services but also in a person-centred way that is supportive of them and their teams. For example, we will seek to ensure that the opening hours of our School and Institute offices reflect flexibilities to support travel to and from campus.
Heads of Schools, Institutes and Directorates will be working with their teams to design work arrangements and rotas that align to the relevant service requirements. These arrangements are driven by local need and will not be identical across the University. Maintaining everyone’s safety will be at the heart of our approach.
Some roles require on-campus presence, others can be covered on a rota basis. In the case of the latter, managers will work with their teams with the objective that no one person, or no group or grade of staff is disproportionately asked to deliver on campus in person services on our campuses. We are now asking that everyone contribute.
All students on practical and practise-based courses who require access to specialist equipment or facilities have been able to return to university from 8 March 2021. Many of our students are already back on campus. In our residences, for example, over 50% of our undergraduates and close to 80% of our postgraduates are back. In this context, it is essential that we have necessary teaching and professional services support on site.
The safety of our staff and students continues to be our foremost concern as we welcome back increasing numbers of staff and students to our campuses.
The Health and Safety Directorate have worked consistently to ensure environmental risk assessments are up to date, and risk assessment profiles are updated to take account of changing circumstances. They have also produced comprehensive Covid-19 Secure Procedures including on face coverings, social distancing cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and spaces.
The Health and Safety Directorate have also developed a Travel to and from Work Procedure which lays out how all Queen Mary staff and students can limit their exposure to Covid-19 and travel to and from work safely in the current circumstances, including details on how staff and students can travel safely to and from Queen Mary campuses by walking, cycling, using private vehicles and public transport.
The University has invested heavily to ensure that our campuses are Covid-Safe.
We are encouraged by research undertaken by Imperial which shows that there was little trace of Covid-19 on public transport and there is constant monitoring of public transport for the latest Covid variants.
In order to return to work safely, Queen Mary requires all staff either currently working on campus or expecting to return to campus, to complete a Covid-19 Assessment, in good time before their return to work. This process will help identify and support those at additional risk from Covid-19 – those who are clinically vulnerable. The outcome of the assessment will determine if an Occupational Health referral is required.
As a guide, staff referred to Occupational Health will be contacted within two working days and offered appointments on dates within five working days of being contacted.
There is guidance on the process and the form itself.
If a staff member needs to be referred to Occupational Health, please wait for the final report before discussing in detail any plans to return to work.
Staff are encouraged by the University to have the vaccine to protect both their own health and the health of others. We understand that this is ultimately everyone's choice, but we encourage staff to make an informed decision about getting the vaccine by reading about Covid-19 vaccinations via official sources such as the NHS; paying attention to the information the NHS provides when offering a vaccine and being wary of misinformation around Covid-19 vaccinations put out by unreliable sources.
Having the vaccine is currently voluntary, and as such, the University will not require staff to confirm their vaccination status and will not compel anyone to have a vaccination.
Where staff have had a vaccine, they will still need to abide by the relevant university requirements related to health safety at work, as set out in this document and guidance issued by the University, e.g. the Covid code, face mask policy etc.
Any sickness absence taken as a result of staff feeling unwell after having their vaccine will be managed in the same way as absence for Covid 19 – i.e. the absence will not be taken into account for absence management purposes.
Where it is not possible to schedule an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccination outside of working hours, paid time off will be available.
For staff who are asymptomatic (i.e. you don’t have Covid-19 symptoms) and are attending work on campus, participation in our Covid-19 testing programme is voluntary. However, we strongly encourage individuals who are attending work to take the opportunity to be tested twice a week. We also encourage staff to be tested even if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The University is offering two tests per week for every student or member of staff living on our campuses or travelling regularly to our campuses. We have test facilities at our Charterhouse Square and Mile End campuses in London.
More information and booking is available here.
Regular testing, along with following our Covid Code, will help keep everyone safe.
Staff will not be prevented from working on campus if they do not wish to take a Covid-19 test and they do not need to provide proof of a negative test result to attend work. However staff are strongly encouraged by the University to take the test to help prevent the spread of the virus and to help protect the health of others.
If you are a line manager and have been asked to prepare for return to work by your Head of School, Institute Director or Professional Services Director, please ensure that you:
- understand and adhere to the requirements set out in the University Risk Assessment, the Queen Mary Covid Code and other relevant health and safety guidance;
- understand and adhere to your local Risk Assessment and communications for staff, which will be provided prior to the return by your Head of School, Institute Director or Professional Services Director;
- conduct further Risk Assessments appropriate to your team’s work settings/activities and staff members, mitigating any identified risks;
- work with the University’s Health and Safety department and any local Health and Safety Representatives;
- consider what information you may need to collect from your team to feed into the planning for return;
- share with your staff the 3 essential steps for staff remaining on campus and ensure your staff have completed their individual Covid-19 Assessment;