Update on the return campus

We are preparing to welcome colleagues and students back to campus in greater numbers over coming weeks, as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

This article will update you on the latest preparations, including: 

  • Returning to offices
  • Guidance for line managers
  • On-campus testing and vaccination
  • Test & Protect and self-isolation

Returning to offices

As previously communicated, the University is anticipating that colleagues will begin to work on campus up to one day per week from 1 September, increasing to two days from 1 October, and with no restrictions from 1 November.

This point is a milestone for many people who have been working remotely over the course of the pandemic.

The return to campus survey showed the majority of colleagues would like to be able to work in a hybrid pattern on an ongoing basis. We believe that working on-campus does offer certain benefits that cannot be realised through exclusively remote working, such as the opportunity for social interaction and collaboration. Through the ‘People First: Enabling New Ways of Working’ programme, the University is supporting a hybrid approach, both over the next few months and beyond for the longer term.

If you are concerned with any aspect of returning to campus, please raise this with your line manager who can outline the support options available to you. There are also FAQs on the HR webpages, including advice for those who have been shielding, those with underlying health conditions or those with other considerations for whom additional risk assessments can be carried out to support a safe return.

As well as updating guidance, over recent months the University has been working to improve ventilation across the estate, ensuring the flow of fresh air is maximised in both our naturally and mechanically ventilated buildings - we will provide a more detailed update about this work in coming weeks.

Guidance for managers

The return of office-based colleagues requires effective communication, planning and risk assessments.  Line managers should read the University’s Returning to Campus Guide for Line Managers ahead of members of their team returning. 

There is further guidance and support for managing the transition published on the Guidance for on-campus activities.

You can find answers to some common questions, as well as any new and emerging queries on our FAQs and comprehensive knowledge base, accessible through the HR Helpdesk.  Professional HR business partner support is available on a case-by-case basis for more complex enquiries.

Plans for on-campus testing and vaccination

Testing

Scottish Government advice is to test using lateral flow devices twice a week; tests can be collected from pharmacies or ordered online. For more information, please see the Scottish Government guidance on testing.

Over coming weeks, we will provide workplace lateral flow test kits on our campuses for both staff and students. We will be operating pick-up points on Gilmorehill, Garscube and Dumfries.

Vaccination

The University has been liaising with Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government about operating vaccination centres on our campuses, so students can complete their course of vaccinations as soon as possible after arrival if they have not already done so. These will be open during September and early October with dates, locations and booking arrangements to be confirmed shortly.

Test & Protect and self-isolation

The Scottish Government recently amended the guidance on self-isolation for those who are double-vaccinated or are under 18 years and 4 months, and have taken a negative PCR test. You can read more on the Scottish Government guidance on Test & Protect and self-isolation.

To ensure that Public Health Scotland (PHS) can track rates of the virus, everyone should download the Protect Scotland app. This also helps identify where people may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and so helps break the chain of transmission.

The University will continue to work with PHS to ensure our campuses remain COVID secure. We have not seen any outbreaks among colleagues on our campuses to this point, however if we detect evidence of transmission, we have a robust Outbreak Management Plan to keep our staff, student and local community safe.

Although many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted over recent weeks, we must continue to be careful and vigilant, particularly as our campuses get busier over coming weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has worked on our campuses over the course of the pandemic and for helping to keep the University community safe in these unprecedented times.


First published: 23 August 2021