Operational Update from our FDO, Michelle Nuttall

I hope you’re well. Chris is on annual leave this week, and I wanted to take the opportunity to give you some operational updates through this month’s The Pulse.  

Student recruitment update

August is a hugely busy time for student recruitment, and this year our undergraduate campaign has been very successful. Unlike many universities who have significantly over-shot their recruitment to Medicine and Dentistry, our numbers are largely “on the nose” and we have not needed to incentivise students to move to a different university or defer to 2022. In other areas of the faculty, we have been able to grow UG numbers where placement capacity allows. Our biggest growth area will be in Nursing, and we have also recruited above target for our Orthoptics and Speech and Language Therapy programmes. 

Growth in our UG Home numbers will help us to offset lower than forecast numbers of PGT students as we continue to see the impact of Covid-19, especially in overseas markets. At the present time, we are expecting to be approximately 70 students short of our PGT target of 377. With a final push in coming weeks, and the ability for many overseas students to start remotely, we will hopefully narrow this gap. 

Return to Campus 

Over the summer months, many more people have been coming back onto campus for some or part of the week. The latest University guidance has been updated in line with the latest government guidance.  The FAQs below take this information and set out what this means in practice in our offices and labs in University accommodation in FMDH. Please note that for staff working in NHS buildings, STH guidance continues to apply. University guidance will also be reviewed and updated, so please keep abreast of guidance on the central webpages. The FAQs below are correct as of 2nd September 2021. 

When should I return to the office? 

When UEB agreed their principles for hybrid working, this included that no one would work from home 100% of the time. In conversation with departments, we have agreed that, as a general principle, everyone should be working in the office for part of the week by the week beginning 20th September. There will, of course, be people who have come to a different agreement with their line manager. This may especially be the case for staff who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable. However, for the majority of staff, September offers an opportunity to return to the office for at least part of the week. 

Do I have to wear a mask at my desk in a communal office? 

The use of masks is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged if you are working less than 2m away from another person. At a distance of more than 2m, a face covering is not required. If a colleague asks you to wear a face mask in a shared office, then we should be considerate of their wishes. Many of our offices already support distancing at 2m, and this will especially be the case with more hybrid working. 

Do I need to socially distance from other people in my office? 

There is no mandatory requirement for social distancing, but a distance of at least 1m should be maintained wherever possible, and 2m is advantageous. If you are working at a distance of less than 2m, you should strongly consider wearing a mask to reduce any risk of transmission. Desks being arranged side to side and back to back (rather than face to face) also helps to reduce transmission. 

Are we able to hot desk? 

Yes, multiple staff are able to work at the same workstation as long as appropriate cleaning takes place between each user in accordance with guidance and the appropriate risk assessments. 

Should departments still be using a booking system to record who is working in non-teaching spaces?

In order to manage any positive cases in accordance with current guidance, departments are asked to retain a system of recording who is working in a building at any given time. Approaches to this differ, with some departments using a sign-in book, and others using some type of online recording system (google doc or similar). Your department will advise about the system they are using. 

Can we hold face to face meetings? If so, what is the social distancing requirement? 

At the current time, meetings that do not involve students continue to be online where this is an appropriate alternative to meeting face to face. If meetings do take place in person, then these should be socially distanced where possible, at a distance of at least 1m. If social distancing is at less than 2m, masks are encouraged but not mandatory.

Meetings between staff and students for teaching purposes do not need to be socially distanced. If they take place within 2m, then again masks are encouraged, but not mandatory.

Will one-way systems remain? 

One way systems will remain in place in buildings to encourage the positive flow of people and avoid bottlenecks. 

What is the social distancing requirement in teaching spaces? 

There is no social distancing requirement in teaching spaces, but students and staff should wear face coverings, unless exempt, if they are within 2m of other people. 

Will there be any social distancing requirement in University cafes, libraries etc? 

There will be no mandatory requirement for social distancing or for face covering to be used in these communal spaces, but users will be asked to be considerate of each other. 

Do I need to self-isolate if I come into contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19? 

From 16 August, if you are fully vaccinated or if you are under 18 years 6 months, you will no longer need to self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, but you are advised to arrange for a PCR test as soon as possible. Anyone with a positive PCR test will be required to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccine status. 

Again, the guidance for clinical academic staff and for staff and students in NHS buildings is slightly different. The latest NHS guidance on self-isolation requirements can be found here. Staff and students working in these areas should follow each Trusts’ own policy regarding testing and return to duties.

Do I need to take lateral flow tests? 

Staff and students coming onto campus are encouraged to take two Lateral Flow Device tests each week. Testing kits are available at various collection points across the campus.

I hope this is useful information, and look forward to seeing more of you soon,