CoronavirusStaff update: 3 September

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this communication finds you well and preparing for the excitement of welcoming our students back to Strathclyde in the new teaching session; albeit under changed conditions.

As the COVID-19 situation changes from day-to-day, and with renewed restrictions coming into force in the Greater Glasgow area this week, it is clear that we will be living with the challenges of this virus for a considerable time to come.

I would like to re-emphasise that the health, safety and well-being of our staff and students remain our first priority. We have put these commitments at the heart of all our decision-making and as we approach the new term, this continues to be our absolute focus. Our preparations for the return of our students are well aligned with the Scottish Government’s guidance to Universities and Colleges, published on 1 September and aimed at minimising the risk of infection transmission.

This week, I emailed an update on our plans for the upcoming academic year to all of our new and returning students and I reassured them that we are committed to them having the best possible experience this semester.  As they will have plenty of questions, we have produced a comprehensive set of FAQs on the different aspects of life at Strathclyde. I would encourage you to review the material and share it as widely as possible.

We are also working closely with Glasgow City Council and the other Universities and Colleges in our city to develop and communicate a range of safety measures which are in place across Glasgow and designed to keep our student population safe.

Despite the on-going challenges, our University will still hold the traditional annual Inauguration Event to welcome new students to the Strathclyde community, but this time it will be online. These events have become a highlight of the first semester for all four Faculties and are an opportunity for our new first year students to get an understanding of our wonderful institution and the community of scholars that they are now part of. As ever, our Student Executive will be heavily involved in the welcome too.

As the weeks go by, increasing numbers of our colleagues are working on campus, mostly from academic research teams, with up to 500 people each day on site. On the recommendation of the Return and Resume Development Group, the Executive Team this week approved the reopening of the Graham Hills Building and the Lord Todd.

This week’s Senate meeting – the first of the new Academic session – devoted a large part of the agenda to outlining our plans for the resumption of teaching; through online and a blended approach. Along with a presentation from Veena O'Halloran on institutional Return and Resume progress, which highlighted the extensive work being undertaken to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff on campus, the Vice Deans Academic from each Faculty outlined their arrangements for the resumption of online and on-campus teaching and there was an overview of how the campus will operate as we move, in a managed way, towards greater occupancy.  

Nonetheless, please remember that despite this gradual return, home working will continue to be the norm for the majority of staff for the time being. Senate also had an update on our NSS performance for 2019-20, noting the positive progress being made along with areas that require ongoing attention. I am particularly pleased to note that we retained our top quartile position for overall student satisfaction in 2019-20.

As I highlighted in my previous message, I am looking forward to getting the chance to speak to many of you over the coming weeks during my next round of Staff Engagement Sessions.

There will be sessions allocated to each Faculty and Directorate as well as one ‘all staff’ option for those who cannot make the session allocated to their area. The sessions are open to staff from all areas and each has a maximum capacity of 300 participants, so please book onto your preferred session.

As ever, I will be happy to answer any questions at the sessions themselves or any which are submitted beforehand. Please submit any that you might have by simply replying to this email.

Once again, thank you for all your efforts for Strathclyde and your continued commitment to our students, your colleagues and the entire community. Please make the most of your Meeting Free Friday tomorrow and have an enjoyable and restful weekend.

Best wishes,