Uni of Leeds say ‘staggered work patterns’ and social distancing could take place in 1st semester

“Our priority is to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of staff and students”

Manchester is the first university to announce the next academic year’s lectures will be moved online for the first semester. It’s safe to say we’re hoping universities in Leeds don’t follow suit.

The Tab Leeds can report student groups are being established in some schools at the University of Leeds to discuss how online teaching may take place in the Autumn term. University of Leeds secretary, Roger Gair, has commented on the matter. He states, “we are taking steps to plan the gradual re-opening of the campus and the resumption of on-campus activities and services as and when the current ‘coronavirus lockdown’ is eased.”

But Gair insists campus re-opening won’t come without precautions and more social distancing.

An excerpt from the document by Robert Gair

Gair states the return to campus will be the same across the whole of the university and not different across individual schools and faculties. The document suggests some social distancing will be necessary in the summer and autumn term, with the potential to go on for longer. Gair also implies “staggered working patterns” may be implemented.

The official document reads as follows: “We expect to adjust our plans as events unfold. But we are currently planning on the basis:

  • a) That recommissioning buildings and facilities closed since March could take several weeks;
  • b) That the current national lockdown will be lifted in phases, with some restrictions perhaps being re-imposed from time to time to control further waves of infection;
  • c) That it will be necessary to practise some form of ‘social-distancing’ throughout the summer and autumn, and perhaps for longer still;
  • d) That social distancing will require some significant changes to the way we work – including the reconfiguration of space in our buildings, the adoption of new ways of working or staggered working patterns, the introduction of prescribed routes within and between buildings, and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment;
  • e) That enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures will be necessary.

“As noted above, we are also planning on the basis that returning to work on campus will be effected in phases, probably spread over several months.”

The University secretary has continued to discuss plans since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday about the potential easing of the national lockdown. Gair states that the shaping of plans “for re-opening the campus – and the management of associated workload” will be subject to functions a) to c) above.

Gair continues: “The executive deans will be asked to draw up proposals on research areas or projects to be prioritised for the resumption of research activities in their respective faculties. A sub-group has been established to oversee the delivery of student education for incoming and returning students for the 2020-21 academic session.

“Heads of services are being asked to identify which of their functions need to be delivered on or from campus (as opposed to remotely) between May and December 2020, with appropriate timeframes.”

While the document does not provide concrete evidence as to whether all 2020 lectures will be moved online, it suggests online learning is being considered and social distancing is to be expected come the new academic year.

However, it is definitely hopeful that the university are discussing plans to re-open our lovely Leeds Uni buildings. Keep your fingers crossed that we’ll see our campus heaving again soon.

For the latest University of Leeds Covid-19 updates, visit this page.