‘No experience needed’: Sussex staff asked to Covid test students ahead of Christmas

‘If ever there was a time for our community to come together, this is it’

Yesterday afternoon, Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell emailed all members of staff employed at the University of Sussex and requested they support their community by signing up to help test students for coronavirus.

Despite whether the members of staff have experience testing students for coronavirus or not, Tickell stressed that “if ever there was a time for our community to come together, this is it.”

In his email, he addressed the government’s new travel window which allows students a six day gap to travel home from university. In his email, Tickell stated: “The UK government plans to offer lateral flow testing devices (LFDs) to universities in England, as part of its scheme to enable students to travel home safely for the Christmas break.”

He also warned staff that he expects this to happen imminently and understands it will bring about “significant challenges in an extremely short time period.”

Tickell said, with the challenges the university are set to face, “the only way” they can operate a mass-testing programme to this scale is with the help of university staff.

He carried on to state the requirements the university needs from its employees. Tickell said: “We require about 100 members of staff every day to work on campus, from Monday 30 November to Friday 11 December inclusive (and including the weekend of Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 December).

“We do understand that this is a big ask, but it will mean so much to our students if you step forward. This initiative is a major priority for the University; if ever there was a time for our community to come together, this is it.”

The email ended with Tickell’s thanks to the staff for their help: “We cannot emphasise enough how much we need and would appreciate your help. This testing programme will be so important in ensuring that our students – who have had such a challenging year – are able to get home to their families. Many thanks for your support.”

If members of staff wish to offer their services and volunteer, the email also includes a list of what the should be aware of. This list can be seen below:

It is the member of staff’s job to inform their Head of School or Director of Professional Services that they are volunteering for the services. All suitable PPE will be provided for them, ensuring they are working in a “completely Covid-secure environment.”

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “We are proud to be part of the national effort to test students for Covid-19, giving them the confidence and peace of mind to return home safely over this winter break. While this is a massive undertaking, we are determined to provide this for our students at the end of such a difficult year.

“We have asked all staff to consider whether they are able to volunteer to carry out a role at our testing centre. This would be instead of, not on top of, their usual duties and all volunteers would continue to receive their normal pay. If any staff decide to volunteer to work outside of their usual hours, they would be compensated accordingly through our usual ways such as time off in lieu.

“There are a variety of roles available, including co-ordinating queueing, registering students, advising students on how to take the test, processing tests and recording results. Full training and PPE will be provided. Similar calls are going out to universities across the country. The Government requires every university that has been selected to take part in this programme to run and staff their own operations. This is an opportunity for our University community to come together and we have already had lots of staff come forward to express their interest in taking part.”

Featured image: SWNS stock image