Coronavirus University Update - including first positive tests in COVID-19 pandemic

Published:

The first cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the University community. Two of our students who have returned to their homes in India have since tested positive for the virus.

Confirmed cases

The students in India contacted SafeGuarding Services after developing symptoms at home which were subsequently confirmed as COVID-19.  Colleagues in the University’s Health & Safety Service are maintaining contact with the students. We are also keeping in touch with a small number of staff and students across the rest of the global University community who are currently self-isolating either with symptoms or due to official health guidelines to limit spreading the infection. At present, no one’s condition is giving undue cause for concern. Further advice on when and how to self-isolate, alongside a wealth of other information, is available in the FAQs on the internal portal.

Facing the challenge of working from home

Now most of us are working from home, colleagues are being reminded to do what they can to make the most of their new routine. It will take time for us to find a balance in our routine whilst working from home and it won’t always be possible to accomplish everything as normal. The University expects staff to operate on a ‘best endeavours’ basis when working from home and to take care to maintain their work/life balance.

Please ensure you take regular breaks away from the screen and phones whilst following the guidance issued regarding working safely at home. Stay in touch with colleagues allowing space for social interactions with friends as well as work meetings with colleagues.  Some staff have caring responsibilities which they are trying to juggle with their working day and managers are asked to ensure staff are maintaining a sensible balance and to do what they can to assist colleagues with prioritising what work should be done.

The University’s Information Services team are being congratulated for their response to managing the rapid shift to online working across campuses in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia. Staff have adapted to using Microsoft Office 365 tools incredibly quickly and Microsoft Teams is now routinely used for meetings and calls. Guidance on how to get the best out of working from home is available and being regularly updated. Additional licenses have been purchased for the University’s Virtual Private Network, which can now accommodate up to 750 users at any one time. Please remember the VPN system is not required to access all University services and users should log off when finished using it.

UK Strike pay deductions postponed

UK colleagues who participated in recent UCU industrial action will not have pay reductions taken from next month’s salary. Strike reductions have been postponed and will be processed in May and June’s payroll.

Campus restrictions

All University campuses are now affected by varying levels of restrictions – check our FAQs if you are unsure about access to your nearest campus.

In the UK, around 1,000 students remain in Halls and the remaining staff are focussing their efforts on maintaining critical services to residences. No access to closed buildings will be granted unless prior agreement with SafeGuarding has been agreed. A system is in place to store deliveries of essential equipment.

Visa Information

For colleagues concerned about their UK visa status, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has updated guidance for anyone affected by the current travel restrictions. Essentially, it states no one who is in the UK legally will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future as long as they inform the Coronavirus Immigration Team. This applies to applies to all nationalities whose leave to remain expires between 24 January and 30 May 2020. Full details are available at the gov.uk site.

COVID-19 project Hub

All Business Continuity activity is being coordinated through the Project Hub, which is now operating remotely off site. If you need to get in touch with the Hub to raise any business continuity issues, please email C19PO@hw.ac.uk.

These are unprecedented times and the University’s Business Continuity Group would like to thank everyone who is helping to maintain essential services and ensuring the care and wellbeing of our student and staff communities.

COVID-19 help and advice

The University is monitoring the coronavirus COVID-19 guidance and acting on the latest official health and travel advice relevant to each campus in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia.

If you have any of the following symptoms you should book a test online or call 0800 028 2816 if unable to access the online service:

  • a new continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste.

If you are a student or member of staff and have any concerns about symptoms or interaction with others please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone app or on 0131 451 3500.

More information can be found on our dedicated help site.