There were 87 new positive cases of coronavirus at Liverpool Uni last week

‘This is before term has even started and campus is quiet’

In the last week, 87 staff and student positive COVID-19 tests have reportedly been confirmed by UoL according to the UoL UCU Official Twitter account.

The tweet was posted to share the UCU’s statement about their concerns regarding the increasing coronavirus transmission rates once campus teaching returns.

The tweet reads: “Today @LivUni confirmed there were 87 positive staff and student COVID-19 tests last week – this is before term has even started and campus is quiet. Current plans being put forward by the university are not safe. It is time to protect staff, students and the city.”

The statement from UCU Higher Education Branches in Liverpool begins by stating how committed the Union is to improve working conditions for employees:

“University staff remain committed to providing the best possible education for our students in these exceptionally difficult circumstances. The only way we can do this is to put people before profit.

“While there may some reduction in income from fees and accommodation, the extent of this is unclear given strong recruitment across the HE sector has been reported widely.

“However, the safety of staff, students and our communities is of greater importance. We remain committed to offering practical proposals to make our employers more sustainable.

“We pledge to work together to reverse the inequality and casualisation that sustains insecure employment practices, to demand that executive pay is reigned in, and to seek a more sustainable model of capital development.

“Universities can survive shocks like Covid-19, but only if we change the model of marketisation that has undermined our safety and the quality of higher education.”

The statement then begins to raise concerns about how returning to studies will lead to higher infection rates:

“We are seriously concerned that, as has been demonstrated notably in the USA, a return to campus teaching will unnecessarily expose students, staff and the community to the virus and exponentially increase infection rates.”

The Liverpool UCU branch then expresses their worries about how higher powers not doing enough to prevent the transmission risk:

“We have serious concern that not enough is being done by university senior managements in Merseyside to adequately minimize risks in line with their legal responsibilities.

“Furthermore, face to face teaching under the constraints of Covid-safety will undoubtedly result in a poor educational experience for our students.”

The Union’s statement ends with bullet points stating what they want to put into place in UoL, Moores and Hope to improve the lives of students and staff during this pandemic:

  • “There should be no return to face-to-face teaching until infection rates, and numbers of infections are low and decreasing, and risks have been adequately and sufficiently minimised.
  • We demand that the legal rights of staff to refuse to work on campus in unsafe environments are upheld and protected.
  • In particular, we demand the right of staff who are vulnerable, who are shielding, or those who are caring for others, not to be instructed to work on campus.
  • Adequate time and resources must be allocated to the demands of online teaching, including the retention of all staff who have been made, or are facing, redundancy.”

In response to the tweet, users are expressing their concerns about the 87 positive tests at UoL and are asking to “stop this nonsense.”

Some users are disappointed in UoL for allowing students to return to campus:

Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liverpool, told The Liverpool Tab: “Like other members of Liverpool’s population, university students and staff members are also experiencing more COVID-19 cases.

“Our investment in an on-campus testing facility for staff and students displaying symptoms means that we are in a position to report on the numbers in our community who test positive and, importantly, to act quickly to stop the spread.

“We continue to work closely with Liverpool City Council’s Public Health team and Public Health England and all those who have tested positive, together with their close contacts, have been informed that they now need to self-isolate in line with national guidance.”

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