With both the UK and the Scottish Governments outlining their plans to move out of lockdown, we are starting to anticipate a more positive future with potential dates in mind for spending more time with extended family and friends. Along with the continued pace of the vaccination programme and its impact within the community, we have an increasingly positive set of circumstances emerging.
Clearly, there is still a long road ahead through March and April, but the prospect of an opening up of society outlined by the First Minister has provided a significant milestone for us all to look forward to.
This week, there was excellent news from Strathclyde researchers that vaccinations have been linked to a substantial reduction in the risk of Covid-19 admissions to Scotland’s hospitals.
The study saw the involvement of Professor Chris Robertson from our Department of Mathematics and Statistics who was part of a UK-wide team which was the first to describe, across an entire country, the effect of the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the community on preventing severe illness resulting in hospitalisation.
This research demonstrated ‘Useful Learning in action’ and has played a key role in our understanding of the vaccination programme and its efficacy. It gives us all evidence and a reason to be more optimistic about the control of the epidemic.
This week also saw the partial reopening of schools and nurseries, which has come as a major step forward for colleagues with younger children. Please remember that this may result in a change to routines for some households that could impact on people’s availability for meetings. Staggered school pick-ups and a lack of wholescale after-school care will mean that the schedule of those with caring responsibilities may have altered, so please bear this in mind when working with your teams.
As we plan our coming months, I would like to remind you to take your allocated annual leave and ensure you take a break to 'recharge your batteries' and get some well-deserved rest. It is important for our wellbeing to ensure we prioritise some time away from work in the spring and summer.
Recently, we distributed our 'Wellbeing Survey' which is designed to allow us to understand how the University community is responding to the current situation. Asking important questions about working from home, our 'Rest and Recuperation Fridays' and 'Meeting Free Fridays' and your work/life balance; there has been an excellent response rate so far and I would encourage those who have not taken the time to participate to do so. Your health and wellbeing remain of the utmost importance to us and this influences all of our decision making.
Please also continue to prioritise your own health and well-being as we enter the later stages of the lockdown. Lighter evenings and slightly warmer weather make outdoor exercise a more viable option than earlier in winter, and I would encourage you to continue to take regular screen breaks and take advantage of the longer days.
Through the coming week, you may be aware that International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March. This is a great celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making an important call to action to accelerate women's equality.
As part of our commitment to equality and in line with our values, Strathclyde has arranged for a number of events to take place online throughout March, reflecting the themes of International Women’s Day as well as exploring women’s development, progression and leadership at the University.
Finally, and as I flagged in last week’s message, next week will see me begin the next phase of Principal’s Engagement Sessions. These have been constructive exchanges through the first two phases and we have now set dates for me, along with other members of my Executive Team, to meet each Faculty and the Professional Services and Support Staff. I look forward to meeting with you in these events and I encourage you to register for the meeting relevant to your part of Strathclyde.
Once again, I would like to thank you for your on-going efforts on behalf of Strathclyde and I hope that you can make the most of your Rest and Recuperation Day.