Happy new year to you. I hope you had a restful break over the Christmas period and were able to enjoy the festivities with your loved ones.
As you will be aware, the First Minister this afternoon announced a temporary national lockdown to combat the continuing spread of Covid-19. In light of this, I convened a meeting with members of the Executive Team this afternoon to assess the implications of the new measures for Strathclyde.
The First Minister indicated that additional guidance specific to Universities will follow later this week.
In the meantime, the arrangements announced on 21 December remain in place, with Universities and Colleges able to operate using a restricted mix of face-to-face and distance learning. The Scottish Government guidance relating to this can be found here.
To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible. By law, in a Level 4 area, you can only leave your home for an essential purpose, including “For education including school, college, university or other essential purposes connected with a course of study”. This guidance can be found here.
For those colleagues who have been shielding, today’s update makes clear that if you cannot work from home you should not go to work. An updated letter from the Chief Medical Officer confirming this will be sent to those shielding.
This is a fast-moving situation and we expect further detailed guidance to be issued from the Scottish Government to the Higher Education sector in the coming days. We will share this with you as soon as we can.
Importantly, given the situation created by the new restrictions for those with caring responsibilities – and in order to continue to support staff to achieve an appropriate balance of work and personal life – I have decided to reintroduce our Friday Rest and Recuperation days from this week and for the duration on the latest lockdown.
This day is designed to allow us to support our families and loved ones, and to ensure we look after our own wellbeing too. As previously, if Friday is not suitable for you then make alternative plans to take another day in consultation with your line manager.
Please be assured that our focus remains the health, wellbeing and safety of our staff and students and, while the current restrictions are challenging – unlike last Spring – the roll-out of the vaccination programme offers a real and genuine route out of this situation in the months ahead.
Please take care and stay safe.
Best wishes, Jim