6 January 2022 - COVID-19 Update for staff

Dear colleagues,

Firstly, Happy New Year; I hope you enjoyed a restful break over the festive period.  

I wrote to you at the end of last Semester in relation to COVID-19, detailing Scottish Government guidance on the response to the emerging Omicron variant. 

We understand these are difficult and turbulent times and appreciate colleagues’ nervousness while wanting to do the best job they can under challenging circumstances.

Whilst the situation with Omicron remains uncertain, we hope that it will not impact unduly on our plans for learning, teaching and research on our campuses. However, we recognise that it may affect, at short notice, some facilities and the extent to which we can accommodate activities.    

Yesterday, the First Minister announced the latest COVID-19 guidance, which focused on isolation and testing. There has been no sectoral update that requires changes to current arrangements as managed by Schools and Colleges for on-campus teaching and research.  

Colleagues should continue to work from home where possible and where not required to deliver essential services on campus; we will continue to keep this position under review as the external environment evolves. If you have any questions about how this applies to you, please consult your line manager.   

Research should continue as planned across our campuses, with no anticipated changes to any activities.

Plans in place for teaching on campus should go ahead as timetabled and as communicated to students prior to the Christmas break.  It is understood that Schools will need to be pragmatic and move online or make other arrangements where staff are isolating or caring for family members, but still able to work remotely.  

Key facilities that remain open include the Main Library, the James McCune Smith Learning Hub, UofG Sport facilities (including the Stevenson Building), and the student support desk in the Fraser Building. Users of all facilities will be required to follow the latest safety guidance, including the wearing of face coverings.

The First Minister asked that staff in all educational settings take a lateral flow test just before starting back at work and regularly thereafter. 

Please be aware of Scottish Government guidance and continue to observe health and safety protection measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19:  

  • Vaccination – getting two vaccinations and a booster jab remains the most effective defence against COVID-19. Booster vaccinations have been offered to everyone over 18. You can get the booster any time if it has been at least 12 weeks since your second dose and at least 28 days since a previous positive PCR test. You can find details about vaccination sites and eligibility on the NHS Inform webpages.
  • Testing – The Scottish Government advises everyone to test regularly and before meeting with people from other households. We also ask all colleagues and students to take a lateral flow test before travelling to work, study or to events on campus. You can access free lateral flow testing kits from pick-up points on our campuses, as well as many pharmacies or you can also order them online. New Scottish Government guidance is that a positive lateral flow test should be treated as an individual having COVID-19 – a PCR test is only required if you are symptomatic.
  • Self-isolation – changes have been made to self-isolation rules in line with public health advice and testing requirements to help maximise testing capacity and ensure a speedier start to the process of contact tracing. The new guidance is available here: NHS Inform website.
  • Face coverings – wear face coverings unless you are exempt, including when moving around in buildings, in libraries and study spaces, in classrooms (including teaching labs) and in offices and other workplace settings where two metre distancing is not possible. Face coverings should also be worn when outside if in a congested area.
  • International travel – from Friday 7 January, people travelling to Scotland from abroad who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 will no longer need to take pre-departure Covid tests, and will also no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival until they've received a negative result.
    Travellers in this group will still need to take a test on or before day two after arriving in the UK - which can be a lateral flow device rather than a PCR test from Sunday 9th January. Anyone who tests positive on their lateral flow test will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.
    Ministers have also agreed to approve vaccine certificates for a further 16 countries and territories from 0400 on 10 January to allow quarantine-free travel to Scotland. The red list of highest risk countries will remain unchanged with no countries currently on the list.
    Full details can be found on the Scottish Government website: Easing of restrictions on international travellers.
  • Campus safety – We will continue to monitor transmission rates on our campuses and maintain enhanced cleaning and ventilation protocols; physical distancing; wearing of a face covering; and occupation limits where necessary, to help minimise virus transmission. We will keep these arrangements under review as new guidance emerges. 

The First Minister also confirmed yesterday that updated guidance for the Higher Education sector will be provided shortly and that the Scottish Government will publish a new framework in the coming weeks on the evolving response to COVID. 

The situation with COVID-19 is expected to continue to change. The University will continue to liaise with the Scottish Government and all relevant organisations; we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of all members of our community.

I would like to thank all at the University for their ongoing understanding and support.

With best wishes,

David Duncan  
Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary  

First published: 6 January 2022