Return to campus webinars: August 2020

Presentation video

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Presentation slides

Return to campus staff webinar presentation - August 2020 [PDF 4.30MB]

Questions received online and via text message

Summary of themes/questions raised at webinars on 24 and 25 August 2020

Miscellaneous 

Decision making on return to campus

  • What type of experts (e.g. epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, etc.) were consulted regarding the safer opening of campus?

  • Several US universities have already reported COVID19 outbreaks. Is Sussex re-assessing its safety measures based on this? Is it still wise to re-open, given this possibility of an outbreak?

  • UOS comms 22 minutes ago released a story on the Facebook page by Dr Yuliya Kyrychko that sees a 27% increase in coronavirus England cases within the past week. Is there not an unresolvable tension between opening campus, protecting public health, and promoting student experience that is centred on being physically present on campus?

Answer: The University has been following all Government guidance available on the reopening of campus – and will of course continue to do so.  We will continue to take an agile approach taking into account any new advice and we will be swift to change our plans if/when new guidance is given.  We are also taking our own precautions over and above the official guidance, such as asking for the wearing of face coverings by staff and students in indoor communal spaces. 

 

Student numbers

  • What percentage of students who would normally be coming to campus in September will be coming?

Answer: Whilst the University will not have definite numbers of students for the academic year until closer to the start of term, we are designing the timetable so that there are far reduced numbers of students on campus at any one time.  As we are taking a blended learning approach, this means that a large number of students will be studying online at times when traditionally they would be in face-to-face classes or lectures.  We have also got staggered library access, with our click to study service, ensuring that socially distanced measures are in place. 

 

Local lockdowns

  • How can we prepare if Brighton & Hove experiences a local lockdown like Leicester?

Answer: The University has rigorous contingency plans in place that will be implemented in the case of a local lockdown in Brighton & Hove.  Sussex was one of the first Universities in the UK to be impacted by the Covid-19 situation, this means that we have developed robust procedures and processes – and swiftly moved to deliver online learning and protect the health and wellbeing of students and staff. We are continuously reviewing our process and policies to ensure that they are up to date.

  • What are we communicating to students arriving from the UK, but from cities experiencing a local lockdown?

Answer: All students can access the Student Hub, which is regularly updated with advice and information on the evolving Covid-19 situation. This comprehensive information is compiled from the UK Government’s advice and our own Health and Safety experts. Should this advice need to change in response to the UK Government’s guidance it will be done and the University will adhere to the regulations in terms of how to support those who are from a local lockdown area.  We are developing protocols and commitments for all our new and returning students so there is full clarity on the expectations of everyone in our community.

  • Say that cases locally are low, but students will be coming from wide areas across the country, will students be restricted from high incidence areas? What about international students also?

Answer:  We will continue to follow the advice and guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England on these matters. Our blended learning approach will mean that the campus is far quieter than it usually is.   In addition many staff will continue to work from home, so there will be much more space on campus.  The Library also has a click to study service.  We will be employing marshals to help ensure students (and staff) are aware of social distancing during times where there could be more congregation of people, such as outside teaching spaces.

 

Student social activities

  • How will students' socialising be managed; what do you envisage they'll be doing between classes and where?

Answer: Regardless of the situation or the environment they find themselves in students like all staff and visitors to Sussex will be encouraged to exercise social distancing and wearing face coverings when this is not possible. Students will also be asked to make a pledge to ensure each that they adhere to the advice and guidance relating to Covid-19 to ensure their safety and that of others.

Additional info: The role of Residential Life will be to offer a residential life programme in collaboration with the Residential Life Connectors for those living on campus with the aim of creating a community with more connection and belonging as part of work we’re doing to enhance the experience of living in halls. This will be in addition to offering students support services.

 

Bereavement

  • What support structures are in place (or are being put into place) to address community mourning/grieving needs given that a number of student and staff deaths are inevitable?

Answer: As well as a community response to the impact of Covid-19, that recognises the loss students and staff may have experienced, the University also provides a comprehensive range of advice, guidance and practical support for students via the Student Life Centre [Link] , students who may encounter bereavement can speak to a professional advisor who will work with them to give them the support they may want.

University staff can access the Employee Assistance Programme, provided by Care First, which offers confidential advice and support on any issue – including bereavement via their 24 hour/365 days a year telephone service. In certain circumstances counselling may be provided for staff who need it. The EAP helpline can be accessed on 0800 015 5630. 

Staff and students may also access the University Chaplaincy service which offers pastoral support to all students and staff on any matter including bereavement matters.  We know that the Chaplaincy are keen to organise a service, with appropriate social distancing measures for anyone in our community to attend, specifically to address the trauma that many may have experienced since lockdown.

Estates

Milestones and events in phased return

  • I see School Offices Opening is dated 7th September. Colleagues in schools were told 14th at the earliest and more likely 21st, I presume the date of the 7th has not been shared and won't be shared with students?

Answer: Robert Hutton, Director of Estates, provided details during the webinar which showed the planning work period to prepare buildings / areas. All Schools will have their own more detailed plans for staff returning to them. It is likely that staff will return at various times throughout September - for example the School of Educations and Social Work will be opening on the 4 September.

 

Student accommodation

  • Please could you explain how risk will be managed in halls of residence. Will there be any discipline involvement for students who don't maintain social distancing measures?

Answer: Yes, the Licence to occupy agreement has been amended for this academic year to include Covid related breaches of Licence and non- compliance with Government advice. Ultimately, persistent breaches will result in the student being asked to leave their accommodation.

 

International students in quarantine

  • Many of the residence halls are not fit for quarantining as they have shared shower and toilet facilities. Are students still going to live in these? If students are living in these halls and are COVID-19 positive, then how will they quarantine?

Answer: Students who need to self-isolate on arrival to the UK will be allocated a room for the 14 day period before being allowed to move into their permanent room and into their new household bubble. Students are allocated into these flats by arrival date, so they will be living in accommodation only with other students who are also require to self-isolate for the same period of time. Students have been sent guidance on how to self-isolate and the measures that they need to take when using shared facilities which include guidance on strict cleaning measures and using shared spaces 1 person at a time. They also have access to meal plans provided by Chartwells that can be delivered to their door. Some accommodation blocks will be used at 50% capacity where there are lots of students sharing bathrooms and kitchens.

 

Teaching spaces

  • The photo of Fulton 104 seating: are the pairs of CHAIRS on each double table 1m apart from each other? Doesn't look like it.

Answer: yes the seating in this room has been placed at 1m+ - also there will be additional mitigations in place as students will be wearing face coverings. All desk spaces have been worked out by a space planner in the Estates team to be 1 metre apart. These are being checked as part of walk-arounds.

  • I would really like to see a practical demonstration of how it is going to work in practice. For example, lecture theatre AD3 normally takes 201, now it is nominated for 100. How are students going to get in and out? Is there really enough space between rows? Are there plans for stewards to get students to queue sensibly?

Answer: Plans for lecture theatres are currently being reviewed and more information will be available soon.

We will be sharing with you a staff induction video prior to teaching which will show you how the lecture theatre will be laid out.  We are also looking at having marshals to help ensure there is social distancing outside of areas of high footfall.  We are carrying out risk assessments for all general teaching spaces to ensure adequate space has been provided to ensure we meet all the Government guidelines on social distancing.

 

Grouped questions

  • We have received several questions about risk assessments in teaching spaces, including how IT equipment will be managed such as microphones and keyboards for staff. We have also received some questions about the cleaning of teaching spaces and how regular these will be. 

Answer: As well as the health & safety guidance for staff in offices and labs, the University is producing a comprehensive guide for staff who will be delivering teaching. This will focus on the delivery of face to face teaching on campus and the risk assessments being carried out.  The guidance will include information on equipment use and cleaning.  This will be shared shortly and before teaching starts at the end of the month.  For teaching that starts before then on 4 September we have worked with colleagues in ESW to risk assess spaces and provide guidance.

Last week the University confirmed that face coverings will need to be worn by students and staff in all indoor communal areas (aside from in offices), and that visors will be provided for academic staff in teaching spaces.

Cleaning regimes have been increased, and they now focus on contact points (such as door handles).  Whilst teaching rooms will not be cleaned between classes, wipes will be available for students to wipe their desks before use and so that teaching staff can wipe keyboards, lecterns and audio-visual equipment at the start of each teaching session.

 

Office space on campus

  • When will I be able to return to my (single occupancy) office?

Answer: You should refer to your line manager to discuss this specific issue.

  • When can I return to my office in Jubilee Building 222?
  • Do we need to let the university know when we plan to be working in the office?

Answer: You should refer to your line manager to discuss this. The Director of Estates will be informing all Heads of School when offices are ready to be used again, when buildings have been fully opened. You can find information the Autumn 2020 webpages on completing the voluntary return to campus form, if you are intending to work on campus before the 21 September.

  • Will working in shared office spaces be allowed?
  • What happens about shared offices?
  • So can staff be in an office at less than 2 metres distance if there is a screen between the desks?
  • I share an office with one other person which is quite small. I am assuming that we will both have to wear masks if both in the office at the same time?
  • Will we need to register with the university when we intend to come to the university to work in our offices?
  • Who will assess or guide us as to whether a shared office is actually safe to have more than one member of staff? E.g. Guidance on ventilation, masks still required. Even if they can be 2m apart?
  • Do staff in windowless offices need to take extra care/precautions?
  • Where you've just said that office desks and equipment would need to be cleaned between users, who would be responsible for that cleaning please?

Answers to the questions above: All staff should access the Health & Safety guidance for working in office and low hazard spaces document which outlines the practices and procedures for the safe use of working spaces at the University. This is information will be updated in accordance with changes to UK Government and PHE advice and guidance.

Our Estates team will be publishing information in the Autumn 2020 webpages in the coming days so you can see clearly when buildings are open and also have information on the risk assessments carried out. Estates will open all campus buildings by 21 September.  The Estates team will be working closely with all Heads of School and Divisional Directors to inform them when buildings are ready to fully reopen, having completed all the necessary risk assessments.  The opening of each building will have formal sign-off by the Director of Estates.

  • Will all of the software we need be loaded onto our office computers?

Answer: If staff require software access from their office computers they can, as normal, contact ITS via: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/its/help/ and raise a request with the ITS helpdesk.  Our ITS team are working hard to ensure staff have access to all the software they need.

 

Other spaces on campus

  • Are screens going up in Arts A A56? It has 9 computers and is a shared staffroom for I guess around 20 tutors who hot desk.
  • Will other staff rooms be provided if we have to teach on campus?

Answer: Our Estates team will be publishing information in the Autumn 2020 webpages in the coming days so you can see clearly when buildings are open and also have information on the risk assessments carried out. The risk assessment will determine if these measures are necessary.  Estates will open all campus buildings by 21 September. The Estates team will be working closely with all Heads of School and Divisional Directors to inform them when buildings are ready to fully reopen, having completed all the necessary risk assessments. The opening of each building will have formal sign-off by the Director of Estates.

  • I am disabled and need to use lifts, what about the cleaning and use of these?

Answer: Lifts will have limited occupancy, and this will be stated on all lifts. Staff will be asked to give priority to those with limited mobility or who are moving equipment. It is not possible to be infected by Covid-19 through your skin, which is a very effective barrier; Covid-19 is a respiratory virus. If you use hand sanitiser after pressing the buttons on a lift, you can sterilise your hand.

 

Public transport

  • Will it be possible to arrange teaching on fewer days (i.e. more hours per day) to reduce  travel on public transport for staff with extreme underlying conditions (extremely shielded)? I have to take 3 trains to get to work and are more worried about public transport than about work conditions, which I trust will be extremely good. Thank you!

Answer: If you have extreme underlying heath conditions then please discuss your work pattern with your line manager, as per our HR guidance available in the Autumn 2020 hub on our staff webpages.

  • How will social distancing be ensured whilst waiting to board buses at campus bus stops?

Answer: Students and staff will be expected to adhere to social distancing just as they would queueing for public transport off campus.  There is already extra signage on bus stops on campus to remind people about social distancing.  If you have any concerns please email transport@sussex.ac.uk.

 

Car parking on campus

  • Will parking charges be reinstated on campus in September, or will it still be possible to drive to work as an alternative to taking public transport, without the added financial burden of paying for parking?

Answer: Parking charges will apply from 28 September 2020 (the first day of teaching). Staff who will be working on campus, and need to drive, can opt to apply via Study Direct for: an annual permit – £30 per month, paid via salary deductions (first payment to be taken on 31 October); or a free pass to park – allowing the purchase of daily scratch cards (£20 per book of 10). Staff who will be driving to campus only a few days each week may find that scratch cards offer a cheaper option than an annual permit; the cost of a book of scratch cards has been reduced for 2020/21.

  • Parking permits seem to be available first come first serve basis and yet I am not returning until January - does that mean there is a risk there won't be any permits left?
  • Further query re parking - if we are in a team that isn't due to return to campus until January - do we need to register for parking now, or do we wait until closer to the time we need to return to site?

Answer: We cannot foresee what the demand will be for parking permits during the academic year 2020-21, or what situation we will find ourselves in later this year. If you are not returning to campus full-time in September, we would advise you to apply now for a free pass to park and to purchase scratch cards as necessary; these will be valid for the whole year. As car parking spaces are limited, please consider others when deciding how you will travel to campus and use other means (walking, cycling or public transport) if possible.

 

Grouped questions

  • We have received several questions about ventilation in general teaching spaces and what testing has been done especially in rooms where there aren’t any windows.

Answer: Our Estates team will be publishing information in the Autumn 2020 webpages in the coming days so you can see clearly when buildings are open and also have information on the risk assessments carried out. The risk assessment will include information on ventilation.  Estates will open all campus buildings by 21 September. The Estates team will be working closely with all Heads of School and Divisional Directors to inform them when buildings are ready to fully reopen, having completed all the necessary risk assessments. The opening of each building will have formal sign-off by the Director of Estates.

All accessible spaces have been checked against existing health and safety requirements to provide adequate supplies of fresh air. Air condition unit filter units have been changed and units have been set to bring in air from outside where possible. A specific issue within Fulton was raised as part of an initial walkaround with academic colleagues from ESW and a request has been placed with Estates to override some of the automatic controls on Fulton windows.

See HSE guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm

Some windowless rooms (for instance lecture theatres) have air-handling systems that provide ventilation which is not immediately apparent. An additional control to ventilation is face coverings; all students will be required to wear face coverings in teaching spaces - other than in certain labs where a face covering may pose an additional hazard (for instance due to fire) or if they are exempt.

 

Water coolers and vending machines

  • Please could you advise as to the suggested safety procedures around water coolers and vending machines positioned in communal areas or foyers on campus? I would have thought socially-distanced queuing and regular cleaning should be a consideration.

Answer: Yes, we expect everyone to abide by social distancing regulations – and that includes at vending machines and water coolers. 

Health and safety

Safety induction

  • Are there going to be safety briefings for students when they return to campus?

Answer: New and existing student can access comprehensive information about how to ensure their own safety and the safety of others via the Student Hub’s Autumn 2020 pages: https://student.sussex.ac.uk/coronavirus/. Existing students also receive regular weekly updates from Kelly Coate, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students which will continue to updates and links to the latest health and safety advice and guidance regarding Covid-19.  All students will be shared information on our protocols and commitments towards the whole community and watch a new induction video with extensive information on expectations and what to do if they feel unwell.

  • Our area Head stated last week that the Health & Safety assessment and Risk Assessment have not be completed/communicated nor are mitigation supplies in office; the Head also communicated that we are expected to return on this Friday. How common is this? How are you ensuring that plans are completed/communicated, necessary supplies are in place, etc.? (I have already expressed my concern to the Head and contacted my union rep)

Answer: Our Estates team will be publishing information in the Autumn 2020 webpages in the coming days so you can see clearly when buildings are open and also have information on the risk assessments carried out. The risk assessment will determine if these measures are necessary.  Estates will open all campus buildings by 21 September. The Estates team will be working closely with all Heads of School and Divisional Directors to inform them when buildings are ready to fully reopen, having completed all the necessary risk assessments. The opening of each building will have formal sign-off by the Director of Estates.  We have been working closely with the School of ESW where some teaching starts on Friday 4 September to ensure that teaching spaces are risk assessed and there have been health & safety briefings arranged with staff and with students.  We are keen to ensure that everyone feels briefed and aware of everyone’s role in keeping space safe.

Grouped questions

  • We have received several questions about how social distancing can be maintained in communal spaces including stairwells, corridors and how one-way systems will work for people with accessibility issues.

Answer: Our Estates team will be publishing information in the Autumn 2020 webpages in the coming days so you can see clearly when buildings are open and also have information on the risk assessments carried out. The risk assessment will include information on movement around campus.  Estates will open all campus buildings by 21 September. The Estates team will be working closely with all Heads of School and Divisional Directors to inform them when buildings are ready to fully reopen, having completed all the necessary risk assessments. The opening of each building will have formal sign-off by the Director of Estates.

We have already provided a comprehensive Health & Safety guide for offices and low hazard spaces that provides information on social distancing in offices spaces – it's important to read this if you are returning to work in an office.  The information is extremely useful for situations such as shared offices, kitches and other communal spaces.

The space planning team in Estates have changed room layouts so that students are sitting at 1 metre distance from each other. This has been used to determine room occupancy in general teaching spaces (GTS).

One-way systems in many corridors on campus are indicated by floor signage and no-entry doors. Plans are in progress for a marshalling system at choke points.

Temporary hazard tape was used to enable ongoing research in laboratories to continue during the summer. A process is underway to replace these with professional floor arrows.

Face coverings

  • Schools in Scotland have ruled that students and staff need to wear face covering in all communal areas and moving around, and English may follow. Can we do the same?
  • Can you clarify the policy for face coverings in buildings? Is it a blanket yes in corridors etc?
  • Will everyone be required to wear masks in indoor spaces on campus?
  • Rules around face coverings seem confusing. Why not just make face coverings compulsory in buildings (obviously with exceptions)?
  • What about staff who are exempt from coverings?

Answer: Information about the use of face-coverings at Sussex can be accessed via the FAQs on the Health and Safety, Autumn 2020 page: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/autumn-2020/health-and-safety

Face coverings in class

  • Do we need to wear face shields to teach? Are we saying that if we are 2m apart we do not need face masks?
  • I was wondering why there is not a 'face coverings should be worn in class' rather than the 2 metre 'face coverings should be worn' policy?  Will it not make it difficult for tutors to decide whether masks are required in class?
  • So does that mean that students and tutors will be expected to wear masks in classrooms? Can tutors require their students to do so?
  • If face coverings are expected to be worn by students in teaching spaces, what enforcement rights and responsibilities do teaching faculty have in managing that in class?
  • Can tutors ask students to put on masks when they find themselves in a small classroom where it is not possible to be 2m apart?
  • Surely wearing a visor is not adequate protection for teaching staff even with 2 metres distancing? Research shows that aerosol particles remain in the air and a visor is not protective? How can you justify this?
  • If I have to teach wearing a mask or visor - will I be provided with a microphone so I can be heard across the room?

Answer: All students will be asked to engage with really clear protocols and a commitment on the expectations of students, as the rules of the classroom. The University has put in the additional mitigation of the wearing of face coverings in indoor spaces to provide added protections to staff and students which is over and above the official guidance. There will be really clear signage and information in all teaching spaces about the wearing of face coverings - and this has been communicated with returning students already. Please do share technical requirements with your School team for additional equipment, we want to help you as much as possible. Asking students to wear face coverings and for teaching staff to wear visors has been a careful decision for us to make and we have introduced this to provide an additional level of safety. Academics who do not wish to wear a visor as they are able to maintain a 2m distance can decide not to wear one.

Provision of face coverings

  • Will University provide face masks? 

Answer: The University has procured a large number of disposable faces masks which will be available for staff that need to be face to face in their interactions with students or staff. More information on face coverings can be found here: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/autumn-2020/health-and-safety/face-coverings. We do recommend that staff carry their own too. Visors will also be made available for teaching staff.

  • Will face masks be provided to the staff free of charge? Will the university install shields for the teaching staff in the lecture and seminar rooms?

Answer:  At this point in time there aren’t plans for shields in teaching spaces.  More information about face masks and shields can be found on the Autumn 2020, Health and Safety page: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/autumn-2020/health-and-safety/face-coverings

  • Are visors or masks going to be provided for staff? Will spare masks be available for teachers/students in classrooms or other locations?
  • Do we have to wear visors and, if so, where do we get them?
  • How can we order a visor and mask?
  • Where can the teaching staff collect their visors from?
  • Will you provide visitors with face masks?

Answer: Visors and masks are going to be made available for teaching staff and more information on where and when to collect masks and visors will be shared in due course. 

 

Other PPE

  • Will Uni provide sanitiser, masks and gloves?

Answer: Yes, the University will provide sanitiser and masks.  We are already supplying gloves in key areas such as cleaning and hospitality.  If there is a specific need for gloves, please ask your line manager.

  • What are the guidance for support staff who need to visit others at their desk and handle IT equipment e.g. IT technicians who may need to do desk side visits.  Will PPE be provided to these staff?
  • What measures will be in place for technical staff who need to visit other staff/students and handle their equipment? e.g. IT staff who would normally visit other staff or students, handle their equipment, either university owned or personally owned, and usually be at quite a close distance to them? Does the university insist that department's supply PPE and detail processes for safe working such as these BEFORE staff are asked to return?

Answer: Yes masks will be provided for staff in these positions.  If a technician is visiting another member of staff, that member of staff should respect social distancing.  If they are not, then the technician is absolutely entitled to not continue with the visit. 
 

Covid-19 symptoms

  • Please can you add lack of smell and taste to symptom checker?

Answer: We have provided the links to the NHS https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 symptom checker on the student and staff webpages – and we’ve made sure the lack of small and taste is included on our webpages. Thank you.

  • What are the guidelines on coming into work with cold symptoms (sore throat, nasal congestion) without coughs?

Answer: Students and staff who may be presenting symptoms of Covid-19 should follow the NHS advice https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 and seek a test and self-isolate. If you are in anyway concerned you may be developing Covid 19 symptoms, please follow the Government advice.

 

Testing

  • What testing resources are in place?
  • What measures will be taken to monitor if anyone coming to campus is infected?
  • Given most students fall into the age group of people who are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID 19, will they be tested on arrival?
  • Will the University implement temperature testing as a way of screening staff and students who may be asymptomatic?

Answer: We are constantly looking at the options for testing, and keeping this under review, we know this is something our community are interested to know more – and we will continue to update you in this important area. We are talking to the local Brighton & Hove Council about all the options available to institutions in the area.  We are also following advice from Universities UK – and of course the national Government.

  • Fortunately, test results for individuals displaying a symptom are returning in less then 24 hours. Would an individual be permitted to attend campus if they have a negative result?

Answer: It would depend on the individual’s circumstances. If they are living with someone who has Covid-19, or has been contacted by the NHS test and trace, they may still be required to self-isolate for a certain number of days. They would need to familiarise themselves with the official guidance.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection


Track and trace

  • Will the numbers of any cases of Covid-19 that arise on campus, either staff or students, be made available to staff and students to help them consider whether they stay working / living on campus?
  • How will the university implement contact tracing in the event of an outbreak?

Answer: The University takes its responsibility incredibly seriously towards transparency – and has been very open with staff since the start of Covid-19 on what is happening on campus. This will be as important as ever during the start of the term. If there is an outbreak that we believe may impact any other staff or students we will respond swiftly and in accordance with advice from Public Health England and in accordance with any Government guidelines.

Research
  • When are research staff expected to go back to office?

Answer: The majority of research labs that wanted to re-open are now up and running, so the Health & Safety team are now planning the opening of teaching labs and those research labs involving close contact. You should check with your line manager or Head of School about your own individual circumstance, as this will vary building to building – with the Director of Estates responsible for opening up buildings when they are ready.

  • I'm a researcher in the School of Psychology. When will human testing be allowed again?

Answer: You should discuss this with your HoS/line manager.

  • I have a PhD student starting in October, who wants to know whether they will be working from home. I am unsure myself, what is the situation?

Answer: We’re sorry to hear you don’t have this clarity yet – please contact the Doctoral School – to find out about your individual circumstances.

  • Students that are self-isolating - can student-facing essential staff be provided an updated list of who they are to ensure we don't book appointments to see them?        

Answer: If students are self-isolating, they will know not to leave their room/home to attend any outside activities or appointments. An added measure may be to check at the point of booking an appointment if the student is self-isolating.

Teaching and learning

Blended teaching

  • Have students been consulted about their preferred mode of teaching delivery? And will there be options in place for students who do not want to participate in face to face teaching?

Answer: Planning for the new semester and the planned approach to blended teaching has been informed through various engagement activities with students and staff conducted at the conclusion of Semester 2 (Spring Semester 2020). This included feedback captured through Staff/Student Experience Groups (SSEGs), School-level focus groups and pulse surveys of both staff and students.

The University expects the vast majority of students to join us for the start of the academic year. The University recognises that some students’ arrival may be delayed due to international travel restrictions and has published guidance on this. If there are medical reasons why a student is unable to join us at the start of term, they can discuss this with us. The University will be sending out a series of emails which provide information on how to register as well as other useful facts. It is at that point students can let us know if they will be arriving late and initially studying online for semester one.

 

Grouped questions on blended learning

  • When will the final decision be made about whether a module/classes will be delivered online or offline?
  • I have been teaching online on the pre-sessional course for 2 months. The methodology for online zoom teaching is quite different from teaching face-to-face. Are the university still supporting a type of blended learning which involves teaching face-to-face with some students joining the class via zoom? This will not benefit students
  • Does the university have a concrete sense of how the 'blended learning' approach to teaching will work, and of how this will be interpreted at the School level?

Answer: The University has committed to a blended teaching model which will comprise a mix of online and some face to face teaching. Students have been informed they can expect a minimum of 11 hours of synchronous teaching (face-to-face or virtual) over a regular 11 week period of delivery (equivalent to 1 hour per week). Using timetable data together with information on the revised socially distanced capacities of general teaching spaces, Schools and individual module teams have been given discretion to consider carefully what can be delivered face-to-face, with due regard being given to those areas of the curriculum that are hard to replicate online. This may result in a blend of in-person, in-person with one or more additional teaching groups joining online and fully synchronous online delivery across modules. There is an expectation that all modules will include an element of face-to-face teaching unless there are approved reasons staff are unable to do so.

 

Grouped questions on blended teaching

  • Will we be asked to teach in person and to an online group simultaneously?
  • As with everyone, I'm wondering whether we are expected to teach students in person and online at the same time (synchronous blending).

Answer: Schools and individual module teams have been given discretion to consider and identify what teaching can be delivered in person. The reduction in general teaching space capacity as a result of social distancing measures means that many teaching groups will need to be sub-divided. Depending on the planned teaching approach, capacity of the timetabled teaching space and whether there are students whose arrival has been delayed or who are unable to attend in-person for other approved reasons then it may be necessary to plan a session to enable students unable to attend in person to join online.

  • The University position on f2f within the 'blend' is unclear. Can you confirm that the default position is online, with f2f being at the discretion of lecturers and unprescribed by UEG? I know f2f has been promised so there are CMS issues, but that there is no prescription on WHEN or HOW MUCH f2f is expected.

Answer: The University has committed to a blended teaching model which will comprise a mix of online and some face to face teaching. Students have been informed they can expect a minimum of 11 hours of synchronous teaching (face-to-face or virtual) over a regular 11 week period of delivery (equivalent to 1 hour per week). Schools and individual module teams have been given discretion to consider carefully what can be delivered face-to-face, with due regard being given to those areas of the curriculum that are hard to replicate online.

  • How will this requirement to split teaching and therefore double up our teaching but not be given any allowance for the increased teaching time. This has not considered people’s well being at all.

Answer: The planned blended teaching approach does not necessitate the doubling of teaching but does require planning. Schools and individual module teams have been given discretion to consider carefully what can be delivered face to face and have been able to make adaptations to the timetable to accommodate changes to originally planned patterns of delivery. Where face-to-face teaching is planned, it may be necessary to plan for one or more teaching groups who are unable to attend in-person due to general teaching space restrictions to join online. This applies also to those students who are unable to attend in-person due to delayed arrival or other approved reasons. This considered approach negates the need for multiple delivery. Training and support in how to plan and facilitate this dual teaching approach is being offered by Learning Technologists and Academic Developers in Technology Enhanced Learning. See the Teaching Online, Learning Anywhere Canvas site for further information.

  • What is the situation regarding the provision of laptops in classrooms for staff to complement online delivery? 

Answer: If staff require additional equipment such as laptops, this will need to be funded by their department, so they should seek advice from their line manager

 

Face-to-face teaching

  • When will face-to-face teaching resume?

Answer: As part of our blended learning offering to students, teaching staff will be resuming some face to face teaching from the beginning of term.

  • How and when will teaching staff be notified about the guidance on face to face teaching?

Answer: We will soon be sharing detailed guidance on safely delivering face-to-face teaching during the pandemic. This will be shared very soon.

  • My teaching begins in 8 working days. Have I missed the risk assessment for teaching? Where can I access this information or when will it be issued?

Answer: Our Estates team is working closely with all Heads of School to ensure that risk assessments are carried out in all buildings. These will be shared on the Autumn 2020 webpages. Our teams have worked closely with colleagues in ESW to ensure risk assessments have taken place in all relevant teaching spaces and a Health & Safety briefing has been carried out with staff. Guidance has been shared with students too. If you have any concerns please contact your Head of School and we are keen to address any specific questions you may have.

  • Some of us are starting to teach on campus on the 4th September. Do we have to wear face masks when teaching? How will we make ourselves heard in large rooms? Will rooms be cleaned between teaching sessions?

Answer: We ask that visors are worn if 2m social distancing cannot be achieved in the classroom – and we will be making these available to staff. There will be regular cleaning on campus, particularly in areas of high footfall. We will also be providing sanitising wipes in all classrooms for students and staff to wipe down the equipment or desk that they have used.

  • What happens when we have an outbreak of (hopefully) "Freshers' flu"? Will someone have to tell a sniffing, coughing student that they have to leave?
  • Usually when students return in Autumn we end up with a surge in 'freshers flu'. Can lecturers refuse entry to f2f teaching or are students responsible to not attend if they do not feel well?

Answer: All classrooms will be displaying information on the signs of Covid-19 and students will also be asked become familiar with protocols and commitments to ensure they understand the rules of the classroom. Face coverings will also be worn by all students. If you are concerned that a student is poorly then it would be advisable to remind the whole class of the rules of the classroom and that if anyone is feeling unwell and is displaying any symptoms to not come into class – and to follow the advice shared with them.

  • How do we social distance a workshop of 60+?

Answer: Guidance on safely delivery teaching during the pandemic will be shared with all teaching staff very soon. We are also carrying out risk assessments on all general teaching spaces and sharing corresponding guidance.

  • We are scheduled to teach in different buildings across campus, how can we keep bio secure in such circumstances? Hand hygiene, masks/ social distancing

Answer: a combination of face coverings for students, and staff where applicable, along with the social distancing measures in place in teaching spaces, plus using hand sanitisers and asking students to use the available wipes to clean desks before and after the class, are mitigations that will help to protect our staff and students. We have followed all the official guidance – and introduced more measures – as we believe this is so important.

  • What about tutor groups who will be mixed with different groups during the day, and so each of us can potentially be exposed to 100s of different adults?

Answer: the measures and protocols we have put in place around face coverings, sanitisation and social distancing are in place to protect our staff and students. Blended learning will mean that far fewer students are on campus than in a normal year, reducing the numbers of people on campus at any given time very significantly.

 

Online teaching

Answer: The University is closely looking at and taking into consideration a wide range of advice. We are also going further than the official Government advice by asking that face coverings are used in all indoor communal spaces (aside from offices). We will continue to go further if we think this is right for our community.

  • What is the threshold (infection rate) for moving to on-line only?
  • What is the infection rate (campus wide, local). at which we decide to shift completely to on-line learning?

Answer: Organisations and business across the UK are having to make decisions on when to introduce changes based on members of thier workforce or community becoming infected and Sussex is no different. Of course, there is a possibility that someone connected to Sussex may be found to be positive. We will need to carefully assess the circumstance – and the risk to others and monitor the impact quickly. If the case is isolated and the risk is low then we will be able carry on with few changes aside from ensuring appropriate tracing has taken place. If however, there is a bigger concern and wider risk then we would take immediate measures to contain the spread and protect our staff and students. We won’t hesitate to take the right decisions – and we will always air on the side of caution.

  • Given that the need to self-isolate due to workplace exposure will severely impact the ability of parents of young children to work, can parents of young children elect to teach exclusively online?

Answer: If a parent of young children needs to self-isolate, which in turn makes their ability to work at home difficult then we will put measures in place to support that member of staff.

  • Will office computers be upgraded with all the software required to teach online?

Answer: Please let ITS know what software you need to teach online, or for any help in finding all the new software packages that have already been introduced. 

Human resources

Staff return to campus

  • When can I return to campus?

Answer: Speak to your line manager and find out what the plans are for you and your team/division)

  • Will we have to register a day that we plan to come on campus in advance?

Answer: You should speak to your line manager about a return date, and we will also be running some welcome events for staff returning to work on campus.

  • Is there a list or contacts for when we want to let someone know we will be working in a particular building? Which is the best way of getting in touch with them?

Answer: Your Head of School or Divisional Director will let you know when buildings are open. Before then you will need to get approval to work in the building from your line manager.

  • How do we go about accessing buildings before the official opening of the university? Our course starts on Friday 4th September and some of us need to get into our offices but have not been told when we are allowed in. Do we need to ask permission?

Answer: Check with your line manager about whether it’s ok to access the particular buildings you need to go into. You are encouraged to visit campus before you return to work and there is more information on this in our Plans for the Autumn term webpages in the working and teaching on campus section. Again, speak to your line manager who can arrange for a safe tour of the area and we are also running campus events, including webinars, campus tours and coffee and cake events for academic staff, to make you feel more reassured about the preparations that have already and are ongoing to make campus safe for return. We will let you know more information about this as soon as possible.

  • Is it feasible to safely (100% safety) return to campus?

Answer: We are following latest Government guidance, observing social distancing, and including use of face coverings where 2m not possible. Significant planning that has taken place throughout the summer and the many new measures that are in place. You can read the Health and Safety guidance for further information

  • There seem to be 2 messages for staff 1) return in Jan if you can currently work from home to give space for essential staff and 2) we're keen to have you back now. Can you please clarify as staff are navigating difficult conversations with their line managers?

Answer: Whether you will be returning to work on campus will depend on your role. We have provided more information on which roles are deemed essential in our return to campus guidance. Any requests to return to work on campus will be in line with government guidance

We have also provided a self-assessment tool to help staff self-identify an elevated vulnerability which you can use as a starting point for a conversation with your manager.

  • Who can I go to if I have specific personal questions relating to my return, or not to work?

Answer: Please contact your line manager

  • I am part time staff at Life Sciences and started working in June. Is it possible to visit the campus and collect my staff card. Also, once I have completed this induction event course would it be possible to come and do some work on campus, will I be allocated hot desking? Who should I contact about these logistics issues?

Answer: You will need to speak to your line manager who will advise on how you can access the campus and what the safe working arrangements will be for you. If you would prefer not to discuss certain things with your line manager then please contact your HR representative.

  • Are there different return to work procedures for those based in the AMEX (given the football club's regulations, and that it's a testing centre)?

Answer: Currently no staff are needed to return to work at the AMEX as these are mainly External Relations and Admissions staff who are able to work from home or elsewhere on campus

  • The message throughout the Summer has been that no one will be expected to return to campus in September if they are uncomfortable doing so, and that working remotely will continue to be the default for non-student facing roles. So why does it appear that all professional service colleagues in schools are now being expected to return - regardless of role?

Answer: Heads and Directors are talking to all staff about future patterns of working as we begin the new academic year and this includes talking to staff who are in essential roles about the work that we need these colleagues to do on campus. In many cases, this will be a blend of remote and campus working. If you have been asked to return to campus working, this is as a result of work planning in your School or Division that has taken into account safety requirements, including social distancing. Please see the guidance on return to campus working for more information on what is meant by essential roles, the approach to having these conversations and planning a return to campus working.

  • Are divisional recovery plans available for staff to read?

Answer: Please speak to your HoS or Divisional Director about your own local recovery plan.

  • What are the key staff policies we need to familiarise ourselves with? How do we find them?

Answer: We have provided a range of guidance for staff on our Plans for the Autumn webpages, including updated HR policies and procedures, return to campus guidance, and health and safety guidance, including our face covering policy and Q&As.

 

Essential roles

  • What is the criteria for determining who essential staff are, as guidance for managers?

Answer: Head of School and Directors of Professional Services have responsibility for assessing what roles are deemed essential – and colleagues can read more in our return to campus guidance and our Stage 2 page.

  • What if a staff's individual job role is not clearly essential, but the team as a whole are being asked to provide a service that is essential (say reception) and no individual team member has that in their job description. So it is essential that the task takes place, but no individual person is clearly responsible for it, so to cover it managers need to ask others to step in to do it

Answer: Managers will be talking to teams and individuals about essential roles and essential work, discussing the need to deliver some services on campus and how this can be achieved. We have offered managers support and guidance on how to have these team and individual planning conversations in the managers' toolkit.

  • During the presentation it sounded like only "essential" staff were expected to return to campus in September. In response to a question it sounds like we're all encouraged to return to campus. Should non-essential staff, who can work from home effectively, return to campus?

Answer: We have provided more information on our Autumn 2020, Stage 2, outlining which roles are deemed essential in our return to campus guidance. Any requests to return to work on campus will be in line with government guidance.

We have also provided a self-assessment tool to help staff self-identify an elevated vulnerability which you can use as a starting point for a conversation with your manager.

  • Can essential staff refuse to return to campus if they feel unsafe?

Answer: Staff in essential roles who are at high risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from Covid-19 will not be expected to come back to campus in September. If you are in an essential role, not at high risk, feel unsafe coming back on to campus and do not wish to return, then you should share this with your manager and where you feel comfortable to do so, the specifics of your concerns and any adaptations that would help you feel more confident. You could also choose to talk to your HR Representative or to your Trade Union. If you still feel unsafe at the idea of returning to work on campus, then please alert your manager to this. Your manager will consult with HR and will consider the possibility of an Occupational Health assessment to hear objective advice and guidance on managing a health or safety concern. Please see the guidance on return to campus for more information.

  • In schools, the majority of professional service staff are being instructed to return to campus - regardless of role, under the guise of potentially covering colleagues if it becomes busy at any point. This seems like a very lose interpretation of an 'essential role'. Can you explain why this was considered fair/sensible?

Answer: Heads and Directors have considered carefully the level of staffing needed on campus to fulfil our obligations to students, staff and partners. In some cases, the need to ensure essential work can be delivered has meant that some additional cover is necessary.

 

Clinically vulnerable staff and those at greater risk

  • Will there be specific guidance or protection for staff who have been on the government's shielding list if they are required back on campus during the autumn term?
  • How are you planning for safe face-to-face interactions between staff and students, especially clinically vulnerable staff?

Answer: The following information is taken from the HR policies and procedures page which contains a comprehensive range of questions and answers for staff:

We recognise that some staff, who have long term and serious underlying health conditions will have concerns about returning to any areas that expose them to more risk of contracting COVID 19. We are ensuring we have strict measures in place to protect all staff and students on campus. We have also created a self-assessment tool for people to use as a starting point for a conversation with their line manager.

Line managers have been asked to discuss with staff members concerned what additional support and flexible arrangements could be put in place to help those who are clinically vulnerable or particularly worried about returning to campus.

  • Do you know when the staff self-assessment tool will be available?

Answer: The self-assessment tool is now ready for people to use. This is not an interactive tool, not and users will need to calculate their own level of vulnerability. It can then form part of a conversation with line managers about how to facilitate a safe return to the campus.

  • Are there any specific policies / practical support being considered for those from BAME backgrounds?

Answer: The University has recently introduced a COVID self-assessment tool that allows any member of staff, including those in higher risk groups, such as colleagues from BAME backgrounds, to consider the risk factors that are pertinent to them. The purpose of this tool is to encourage individuals to review their risk factors and, where they wish, to share these or any general concerns with their manager when discussing future patterns of working. Managers will consider the implications of risk factors very carefully with their staff and HR and Occupational Health advice and guidance is available to them.

 

Working online

  • I'm concerned about things like headaches and eye strain from all the remote meetings and teaching. Is there any support for this?

Answer: We do not want to put any of our staff at risk, so please have discussions with your line manager about working from home, what equipment you require and taking care of your wellbeing, e.g. taking breaks.

There is further advice and guidance on:

- the working and teaching remotely section of our plans for Autumn 2020 webpages

Health and Safety webpages.

- Further support, guidance and resources can be found for DSE workstation assessments and on the wellbeing pages.

 

Working remotely/from home

  • As a manager I have one member of staff whose role can be carried out virtually and whose personal circumstances during the pandemic has necessitated them relocating away from Brighton. Is there a University position on staff in non-essential roles continuing to work remotely on a permanent basis. 

Answer: yes and we will be providing more information on this, this term. We are keen to enable remote work for non-essential staff, where the role can be carried out remotely – as long as this works for both the staff member and the University.

  • We are personally bearing the heat and lighting costs to work from home which will obviously increase during the winter months - will we be receiving an allowance for this?

Answer: Where you have been asked to work at home (i.e. the University has requested you do so), you may be able to claim tax relief on some of the additional costs you’re incurring. To check if you can claim, visit HMRC’s website. In order to make a claim you will need to complete HMRC form P87.

  • Will there be an opportunity to 'opt-in' for returning to work on campus from September for colleagues who find working at home difficult?

Answer: Some other members of staff will have individual reasons for wishing to work on campus between September and December 2020. These might include, for example: severe and ongoing internet connection issues that cannot be resolved; health and safety reasons that cannot be resolved through the provision of equipment in the home, possibly due to lack of space or shared environments; adjustments for staff with disabilities that cannot be resolved during home working; mental health, wellbeing and personal safety issues caused by working from home

  • Some of us are struggling to use our own home computers to work efficiently; some staff have been issued with University computers, how could we get one?

Answer: The University has made a significant volume of equipment available to staff. If you haven't already done so, it is important you identify what you think you need to your line manager as soon as possible. IT are giving regular updates and posting information on the ITS webpages. Found in https://www.sussex.ac.uk/staff/autumn-2020/working-and-teaching-remotely

  • What are the future plans for the University's telecoms/telephone systems, now more staff are working remotely? 

Answer: We will share more information on this shortly as we are looking at a variety of options.

  • What happens if/when my child’s school/nursery has to close again which makes working from home impossible?

Answer: If at any point you have concerns about childcare or caring for relatives which may prohibit you from working on campus then you would need to speak to your line manager as early as possible. We will do our best to work with you around the needs of the University and your job role and the caring responsibilities you have, to come up with a workable solution. These types of flexible working arrangements will be reviewed by the end of November to ensure they are still working for both the member of staff and the needs of the individual’s role requirements.

 

Plans for 2021/flexible working

  • Are there plans to return to normal in January or will there still be some homeworking for certain professional services staff?
  • What about staff who from Jan 2021, would like to remain working from home permanently if they live several hours outside of Sussex since lockdown. 
  • What about staff who from Jan 2021, would like to remain working from home permanently if they live several hours outside of Sussex since lockdown.

Answer: We are open to flexible working requests and you should speak to your line manager. An update of our flexible working policy is planned for Stage three of our campus re-opening.