September Spotlight – essential updates and information sources

Right across the University, teams are working extremely hard to support students as they start the new academic year, and to deliver the best they possibly can in research, teaching and knowledge exchange in challenging circumstances.

A huge amount of communication is taking place at University level to share the thinking and planning that is going in to manage the current situation. Here is brief overview of essential updates and information sources:

Google drive: The autumn term

This is a repository of all the guidance that has been developed at University level to support all activities, including return to campus. There is guidance on research, learning & teaching, health & safety, institutional level risk assessments.

If you are coming back onto campus for any reason, you need to complete this mandatory training.

Practical teaching matters 

Teaching packs

Teaching packs are available at the Medical School and Dental School receptions. These include: Pens, dry wipes and cloths packed together for collection in little bags.  Chalk is available too for those staff who require this. If you require a lapel mic, please contact IT Services. 

Cleaning and cleaning products

Other than personal offices and research labs, cleaning products should be provided by EFM for most spaces (pool teaching spaces, non-pool teaching spaces, common areas). Additional cleaning is in place for all of these spaces morning and afternoon. Personal offices are not being cleaned because EFM need to prioritise increased cleaning of teaching spaces, and because only the occupant should be entering a personal office (there should be no staff or student supervision taking place). We are finding some teething problems with cleaning products. If you have any issues, please contact Kevin Corke, so that we can compile feedback and liaise with EFM on any improvements needed.

Masks

All staff and students are expected to wear face coverings whilst attending teaching or where social distancing is not possible on campus. All students are being provided with two masks, and visors are available for all students at any student reception point (ours are in the Medical School and Dental School). Visors have also been provided to all departments.  

Access to offices

Following the government announcement on Tuesday 22 September, the position remains that staff should work from home if their job allows in order to limit the risk of Covid-19 transmission on campus. There is, however, acknowledgment that in order to support the blended learning approach, some staff will need to be able to access their offices/office space on campus. To support this, guidance has been developed to support departmental decision making on a managed, deliberate and slow return to campus office spaces for some staff. The process and pace of implementing the guidance is being managed at departmental level (with Faculty oversight). The situation and context is different for each department and access to buildings is expected to vary across the Faculty. 

In recognition of this, we are also making Barber House available for staff who want to work from the campus on a part time basis, but whose ‘normal’ office is not available. This will be available for staff where: 

  • working at home is detrimental to wellbeing
  • it is determined by business need that their role is (in full or in part) more effectively undertaken in offices on campus

We will confirm the process for booking space in Barber House shortly.

Supporting track and trace

Across MDH, we are taking additional steps to support the track and trace process. All staff and students are being encouraged to download the NHS Covid-19 App. Guidance is being issued by NHS Trusts on what to do when on NHS premises to avoid false positive readings.  We are also adding information about all of our face to face teaching onto the i-Sheffield system to give visibility of all f2f teaching activity across the University on one system (MDH has traditionally used a range of bespoke approaches to timetabling). Alongside colleagues in EFM, non-pool teaching spaces across the MDH estate are also being given numbered seating. If students test positive for Covid-19, we need to be in a position to confirm to H&S colleagues a) which teaching sessions students attended b) where they were sat c) which other students and/or staff were within 2m of them. To support this, please do not move the furniture in any teaching spaces and continue to record attendance at each session (including seat numbers where possible). You may wish to allocate students specific seating for the semester.  Communications will also be issued to students, asking them to make a record of where they sit in class.

Monitoring cases of Covid-19

This webpage provides access to Covid-19 statistics, including a daily update on the number of staff and students who have tested positive. Within our faculty, each department has live access to information about staff and students who are self-isolating. When H&S are notified of a positive case, they will work with us at departmental and faculty level on the necessary next steps. A number of staff have also asked me to clarify and share the University’s Guidance on Managing a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19

Access to study space

For UG and PGT students, study space is bookable from 28/09 in the Information Commons. Dedicated study space for PGR students is also being provided, and I expect  details of where and how will be provided in the staff update tomorrow. We are also speaking with Library Services about re-opening the library space in the Medical School and I will hopefully have an update on that soon. 

There is, however, acknowledgment that in order to support the blended learning approach, some staff will need to be able to access office space on campus (not necessarily their usual office).