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Latest staff news

Important information and guidance for all staff

Today, 18 September, an email was sent to all staff with the latest guidance on Stage 2 of the University's return to campus plans.

You can read the full email here:

Dear colleague,

We are continuing to provide all staff with the latest information on the reopening of campus and welcoming our students.  We appreciate there is a lot of information but it covers important updates and we would encourage you to read to the end, including the additional FAQs.

Return to campus webinar: academic staff
Next week, as we begin our academic term, we are inviting academic staff to a bespoke webinar, where they can find out more about our phased return to campus, what the blended teaching approach means, what the classroom experience will look like, and the support that is available for academics, from a teaching and HR perspective.
 
Attendees will also be able to ask questions of the presenters, Provost Saul Becker, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Students, Kelly Coate and Director of HR, Siobhan O’Reilly.  Staff will be invited to ask questions anonymously, either by sending them in advance or on the day.
 
The webinar takes place on Wednesday, 23 September, 4pm – 5pm.
 
You can book your place now.
 
Community Pledge
We have introduced a Community Pledge at Sussex, which sets out expectations and responsibilities of our staff and students, when they are on campus.
 
As we look ahead to the start of the academic term, it encourages us all to act with mutual respect and care, and uphold the Sussex values – Kindness, Integrity, Inclusion, Collaboration and Courage.  And as members of staff we also have a duty to show our commitment to our values and Covid-19 safety measures to students, the wider community and each other.
 
Please take a moment to read and Support the Community Pledge.

In doing so you will join thousands of staff and students who are demonstrating their shared commitment to continuing to ensure the University of Sussex is as safe as possible.

You can download and print a Community Pledge poster [PDF 64.55KB] that can be printed and displayed in any room across campus.

A3-sized copies will be printed and made available for collection at Sussex House reception next week.  If would like to collect one, please email information@sussex.ac.uk.
 

Rules of the classroom
In addition to the Community Pledge, Covid-19 safety guidelines will be displayed in teaching spaces to ensure staff and students know what to do.  This covers personal hygiene, face coverings, social distancing, the use of cleaning materials, consumption of food and drinks.  You can read more about that on our Student Hub pages.
 
Movement of staff and students around campus
Health and Safety colleagues, Student Experience services and SEF are planning the safe movement of students, staff and visitors around the campus.  The following measures are now in place:

  • External and internal floor signs to indicate direction of travel, restrictions / changes to normal routes
  • A map that identifies high traffic areas and congestion points
  • Ambassadors will help to marshal students around campus in alignment with timetabling.

These teams will continue to review all areas in the light of Higher education: reopening buildings and campuses guidance to ensure a safe phased return to campus for Schools and Divisions over the coming months.
 
Audience events
Staff are asked not to organise any audience events (due to Government guidance).  This would include research seminars or any other events which would not comply with social distancing and other requirements that have been outlined.
 
Training and support for teaching staff (TEL)
Technology Enhanced Learning are running a comprehensive programme of training for academic staff.
 
The Teaching Online, Learning Anywhere Canvas site has been revamped with an extended range of resources and pedagogical guidance.
 
If academic teaching staff do have specific teaching requirements please refer to the Teaching Online, Learning Anywhere Canvas module or contact your School Learning Technologist.
 
Closed captioning requirements
Closed captioning is now a requirement as part of the Public Sector Bodies (Website and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations, which came into force this month. 
 
Closed captions are generated when recording audio/visual teaching and learning content in Panopto.  
 
The University is taking a practical and graded approach towards closed captioning.  It is recognised that teaching and learning material must be compliant and that some students may report inaccessible content.  
 
At the same time, we appreciate that this is a new requirement and therefore there needs to be an element of scoping and understanding how best to embed this into everyday pedagogical practice to ensure a high-quality outcome for students.  You can read the full statement on closed captioning
 
Managing staff interactions on campus
To ensure we are meeting the SAGE and DfE guidelines, we will be introducing measures in relation to staff interactions on campus to manage and mitigate risks in relation to the potential spread of Covid-19.
 
Our phased return to campus means we are more able to limit staff interactions, by having those who are not in essential roles, not returning to campus before January 2021.
 
Managing the number of times staff come into contact with each other on campus will allow us to reduce the potential size of outbreaks and support easier detection of linked cases and, if necessary, enable more targeted closure or quarantine.
 
It will make it easier to identify and limit those who need to take action in the event of a case or outbreak.
 
Where possible we aim to reduce the number of face-to-face interactions for staff working on campus.  This might include:

  • Only having face to face meetings with small sub groups in Schools/Divisions.
  • Only having face to face meetings where necessary and using online tools to reduce the need for face to face interactions.
  • Managing larger meetings (more than six people) via Zoom or Teams.
  • Team A/B working methods where possible – you should speak to your Head of School or Divisional Director about how to manage this.

Student segmentation - changes to on-campus accommodation room allocation 
The UK Government recently issued advice and guidance relating to the management of student on-campus accommodation.  It states that universities should group students in on-campus accommodation on a course basis, or other practical grouping where possible – with some exceptions such as a student’s specific health status and/or being under the age of 18.
 
To comply with this guidance we have had to re-allocate most students existing University on-campus accommodation to an alternative room that is of the same standard of accommodation they originally chose – and let them know that room swaps cannot be undertaken until further notice.
 
This advice is being followed as there is evidence that Covid-19 can spread in settings where multiple households meet, and social distancing is not possible.  It is an additional safety measure on top of our rigorous health and safety plans during Covid-19.
 
Affected students have been contacted about their new room allocation, with an apology for the potential disruption this may cause them, and clearly explained that this has been done in line with our top priority – their health, safety and wellbeing. 
 
Track and trace NHS app
We are putting in place measures to support the national NHS track and trace requirements and once the national contact NHS Track & Trace App is launched next week, on September 24, we are encouraging everyone to download and use it.
 
A QR code will be displayed around campus for ease of downloading the app.  People will be able to scan QR codes in lecture theatres, seminar rooms, cafes, etc.
 
It is also advised that any staff returning to campus should download the Government app and use the track and trace systems for any buildings entered during the working day.
 
If at any point the staff member is then contacted by the track and trace app, they should follow the guidelines on isolation and stay away from campus for the specified period of time.  It is essential to notify your line manager and follow the Health and Safety notification procedures clearly outlined on the webpages.
 
Cleaning
Cleaning taskforce
SEF carry out regular cleaning services campus wide under the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICS) guidelines.  A Covid-19 Cleaning taskforce will be ensuring all spaces on campus are thoroughly cleaned, including all academic buildings and residential spaces.
 
Cleaning of teaching spaces:
All teaching spaces will adequately be provided with appropriate supplies of desk wipes and hand sanitisers.  Staff and students will be expected to wipe down surfaces pre/post use of desk, lecture theatre writing surfaces etc as per published guidance document(s). 
 
Cleaning in teaching spaces includes:
- Bin emptying
- Litter picking 
- Spot vacuuming 
- Floor sweeping 
- Wiping of finger marks and telephones 
- Wiping of skirting boards and surfaces 
- Cleaning of spills, stains and cup marks 
 
Chartwell’s and retail provision from the start of the new term
From the start of term, the University’s caterers Chartwell’s will be offering fresh new menus to suit a wide range of dietary requirements and ensuring Covid-19 secure ways of ordering food and drink on campus.
 
While we imagine many staff will want to bring their own food in from home, we will have more detailed information about catering services and their new menus soon. This will include information on a new Click and Collect App, delivery services and subscriptions for Hello Fresh menu kits.
 
Travel plans
Estates and SEF have engaged in continuous and ongoing dialogue with both Brighton & Hove Buses and Southern Rail during lockdown and the run up to re-opening of campus.
 
We are collectively putting in many control measures to minimise the risk, but we all have to be socially responsible to keep ourselves and others safe.
 
The Estates team has been doing some modelling on where we anticipate arrivals in terms of footfall into campus and trying to do some prediction with the bus companies in terms of the load levels for the buses and that is continuing.
 
Brighton & Hove Buses will monitor passenger use and flex services to meet demand and future change.
 
Southern Rail are also monitoring demand and refer passengers to their App for up-to-date information on services.
 
Sport activities on campus
Sussexsport re-opened both its Falmer Sports Complex and Sport Centre facilities at the start of this month. To ensure the safe opening Sussexsport has implemented the following protocols:

  • Detailed risk assessments for both facilities have been signed off by health and safety; including defined one-way systems on both sites. Sport specific risk assessments have also been completed in line with National Body Guidelines (NBG)
  • All fitness protocols are in line with Ukactive who Sussexsport are affiliated to and are the main point of contact with the Government
  • All Sussexsport staff have received Covid-19 secure training both online and in person
  • All sessions have to be booked and where possible membership sales are requested to be done online
  • Sessions are staggered to ensure smaller groups and gaps between sessions
  • External users all receive clear guidelines on our protocols for use of facilities based on the NBGs and a track and trace sheet to log their players when on campus.

We are communicating to users via all social media channels, emails and Sussexsport website to ensure members and external users are kept updated.
 
We're pleased to announce that our Stay Home With US programme of online classes, blogs and downloadable home workouts is continuing, alongside in person activities.
 
ACCA
There is no public artistic programme for the ACCA this term.  The café will also be closed.
 
Rooms within the ACCA will be used for teaching.
 
Covid reporting form
We are asking all staff and students to report Covid symptoms by completing this Covid-19 Symptoms or self-isolation reporting form.  The University will provide support for any students who are self-isolating – whether that be due to them showing Covid-19 symptoms or because they have arrived at the University from being abroad and must quarantine.
 
Face coverings – and where to pick up your yellow lanyard
Face coverings will be required in communal indoor spaces on campus. 
 
Those who have a medical reason not to wear a face covering may wish to signal exemption by wearing a yellow lanyard. You can collect a lanyard from Sussex House reception.
 
You can find out more about the University’s policy on face coverings.
 
HR guidance and support for staff and managers on returning to campus
HR have developed comprehensive guidance for staff on the return to campus, acknowledging staff have individual needs. In addition, there is:

  • A toolkit for managers has also been developed to support them in addressing any individual concerns.
  • A self-assessment tool to support staff and students to identify if they have a clinical vulnerability to becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.  You can read more about the tool on our self-assessment webpage.

Mental health
We recognise this may be stressful time for staff and are continuing to develop the self-help resources on wellbeing and mental health for individuals.  There is advice on how you can stay physically and mentally well and also links to a comprehensive package of online training modules.
 
In addition, two webinars have been arranged for staff and managers to get a better understanding of the importance of having mental health conversations and how you can support your staff during difficult times.
 
Please book your place by clicking one of the links below:

Webinars and staff engagement
There have been a number of ways for staff to find out more about our plans the Autumn 2020.

In addition to the Autumn 2020 webpages - which has information on a range of matters from teaching advice, health and safety, HR, and the support available - we have been sharing the latest advice and guidance via a series of return to campus webinars.
 
You can watch the recording of a recent webinar and read answers to unanswered questions.
 
If you do have any questions relating to the start of term and our our phased return to campus you can email covidquestions@sussex.ac.uk.

Best wishes,
Internal Communications 

 
Additional FAQs added to the Staff Hub
 
Can we share physical documents (papers) that students are working on in class? 
Teaching activities involving the sharing of physical documents or resources should be minimised unless essential to the demonstration of module/course learning outcomes.  If it is essential to use physical documents, consider using the following hierarch when preparing them.

  • If possible, prepare the documents 72 hours in advance and put them in a container when taking them to the classroom
  • If this is not possible wash or sterilise your hands before preparing the notes

For either method provide materials in a manner where students can take a copy without handling other copies.
 
Gloves are not a recommended control for this activity as it is still possible to transfer covid-19 between surfaces while wearing gloves, hand washing is a more effective control.
 
The goal of these controls is to limit the amount of hand contact points and to ensure hand hygiene where contact points are unavoidable.
 
Should you have queries on how to implement the above recommendation please contact the University’s Health and Safety team.
 
Can we share equipment between students that they use in class?
Teaching activities involving the sharing of equipment should be minimised unless essential to the demonstration of module/course learning outcomes. If it is essential to use shared equipment, please consider using one of the following controls that best suit your classroom objectives.

  • Quarantining the equipment 72 hours between uses
  • Assign each item of equipment to a specific student
  • Wipe down the equipment with sanitising wipes or soapy water. Consider that this will not be practical for fabric equipment or books
  • Have students sanitise their hands before and after using the equipment.

It is important not to share any equipment that is blown into for instance wind instruments and to consider if there are any equipment that will be breathed on heavily during use as these areas need to be prioritised if items are cleaned between use.

Do not share any equipment that is worn on the face.
 
The goal of these controls is to limit the amount of hand contact points and to ensure hand hygiene where contact points are unavoidable.
 
Outside of laboratories gloves are not typically the best control if you feel they are required please contact the University’s Health and Safety team.

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By: Charlie Littlejones
Last updated: Friday, 18 September 2020

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